Locals petition IGP over Ayivu district status
By Andrew Cohen Amvesi
ARUA. A section of locals agitating for the creation of Ayivu district in Arua have petitioned the office of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) over their planned peaceful walk to State House Entebbe to meet President Yoweri Museveni.
The locals under the umbrella organization, ‘Save Ayivu Initiative (SAI)’ said the intended walk to State House follows failure to reply to the several letters they wrote to various government offices including that of the Speaker of Parliament, Annet Anita Among.
“We were in the office of the IGP on Monday to ask why is it that he allows police to always disperse Ayivu elders’ meetings over the district issue. This one we thought it was unfair, we wanted to know from the IGP why do you disorganize peasant farmers’ meetings when they cry about their land,” Gasper Piriyo, the SAI spokesperson said during a feedback meeting with SAI leaders in Arua city on Wednesday.
“The good news is that when we reached there, first of all, the IGP’s representative told us that they were not aware that security was harassing us. Two, they should not and never again try to disrupt a peaceful meeting, so that is an achievement we got,” Piriyo said.
He also said they asked the IGP that since all the government organs have refused to respond to their cry, can they go to meet the President who is the last option for the people of Ayivu.
“That was the motive we wanted from the IGP’s office before we organized a walk to the State House Entebbe. From there we were now advised that please, this is a political matter and as police, they can’t handle it but the best person to handle this issue is the head of Ministers, the Prime Minister. So, the following day we went to meet the Prime Minister to find out why she was quiet about our concern of getting district status and why she couldn’t prevail on the Minister of Local Government who was notified two years ago,” Piriyo said.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get her in office because she is abroad but the good thing is that the staff of the Prime Minister were welcoming and allowed us to explain everything to them. They said there was nothing wrong with our petition only that there was no follow up. Now we have got feedback, we were requested to write formally to request for a meeting with the Prime Minister which we have done, it will be scheduled. Two, we requested through the Speaker to allow the committee of Parliament dealing with Local Government to come to Ayivu to look at our petition and see whether there is sense, so we were also assured that they are going to schedule for us a meeting with the Speaker of Parliament and also with the President himself,” Piriyo added.
During the feedback meeting, Manasseh Yuma, the ‘chief’ of Ayivu thanked the team that returned from Kampala for keeping the fire burning.
“These young people who are leading SAI, they are my right hand. Why are they my right hand, the issue of the city when it was brought, we were not consulted. If at all they consulted people, they consulted political elders, they consulted those who can receive money and then sign. My elders and the young people here are not the kind. We are here not to overthrow or to argue with the government but to show that our people who are in Ayivu are suffering,” Yuma said.
He further observed that when the city was brought, it took away the services which the government was giving to the local people down there.
“The city combined the former seven sub-counties in Ayivu to be one sub-county called Division. The city has robbed us now of our land, the city has imposed taxes on us, the city doesn’t know about the poor because our politicians thought that they are the only ones who know about the government. I’m here because of our land, I don’t want this land to be taken away from the poor people, where will our children go?” Yuma bitterly asked.
Al-Hajj Isah Afeku Kato, the then Arua Municipality Mayor at the time of Arua city creation said they didn’t approve the city but only applied for the elevation of Arua Municipality to a city status.
“Kato as a Mayor at that time had no authority to approve the whole of Ayivu to become part of the city, no! That was not our responsibility. It was the then Arua district council; the district chairman who sat with his councilors to say we now decide to have Ayivu to be taken wholesomely to the city,” Kato clarified.
He said: “If the councilors of Ayivu, Vurra, Madi-Okollo and Terego sat and decided that this is the format of the city, we in the Municipality had no powers over their decision.”
But Kato now says as a born of Ayivu, he supports the demand by the people to create Ayivu district and maybe, they should consider the peri-urban areas of Ayivu to be part of Arua city.
Kato assured the public that he is ready to join his brothers and sisters in the walk to State House Entebbe if their demand for Ayivu district continues to be ignored by the government.