Relief and Disaster Preparedness state minister Musa Ecweru has been accused of using secondary and technical school students to back up his claim that majority of the Amuria people support the presidential age limit bill.
Locals in his constituency told The Observer on November 2 that while his colleagues in Teso subregion were consulting at each sub-county, the minister selected a few of his 2016 election campaign agents to consult on October 30.
Ecweru is the latest in a growing line of ruling party MPs who have faced the wrath of constituents over his support for the bill.
An elder from Asamuk sub-county, Benedicto Okiror, and Amuria district councillor, Silver Omer, revealed that the minister coached a few of his campaign agents from his house in Omes village.
“For us people from Asamuk subcounty, we are really disappointed with what the honourable did. That was not consulting when he called his agents to be appreciated and pay them for protecting his votes,” Okiror said.
“For us elders we denounce his views and we disassociate ourselves; we were not part of the consultations and he never reached us to tell him that we do not support the age limit removal from the constitution,” Okiror said.
“Calling people in his house was uncalled for… Information is circulating in the district that he is using some of his agents to register secondary students and Wera technical institute students below 18 years to claim that majority of people in Amuria support the bill,” Omer added.
Okiror and Omer said that not more than 10 NRM supporters were allowed to express their views at the consultative meeting held at Asamuk before one of his agents ‘moved a motion’ in support of the Raphael Magyezi bill.
“We had expected him [Ecweru] to go to each sub-county to consult and gather many views from the people about the age limit but he called few in a small hall.
Those that attended his house meeting sat strategically and when they raised their hands to speak, they were the ones allowed and after that he said the people of Amuria are in support, which is not true,” Omer said.
The hall in which the meeting was held could only hold about 200 people which meant some remained outside. It also made it difficult to freely rotate the microphone.
However, a woman identified as Martha Apio, an NRM female councillor for Amuria town council, found her way inside the hall and grabbed the microphone. She asked the minister why he was consulting on an important subject inside a small hall.
“I forced myself here although I was not allowed to enter inside. I was told not to come inside by some people but honourable minister, my leader, I am also a leader of people in Amuria, my prayer is, come and consult us down there, don’t make resolutions inside this conference [room] I beg,” Apio said, attracting cheers.
Ecweru later said he had consulted 500 people and majority supported the age limit bill.
“Majority support but few don’t agree. That is the fact that I am going to share with my colleagues [in parliament]. The few do not support but the majority has given me mandate to support Honorable Magyezi’s bill,” Ecweru said shortly after the consultative meeting.
Meanwhile, during a consultative meeting, Kapelebyong MP Julius Ochen (Independent) organised at Obalang trading centre last Wednesday, locals applauded him for giving each of them chance to contribute.
“Here we are safe; in my county Amuria people are being threatened. I am a councillor for Apedur sub-county but it was a total embarrassment in my county Amuria when Honourable Ecweru was consulting. The business of calling people in a house and you give them Riham and Shs 40,000, I think is abomination. For us who are saying, mamu itoror (don’t touch) were stopped from telling the minister so,” Paul British Esogu said.
“Most of us in Amuria we say Museveni oloto, Museveni agende [go] but those eating with him want to stick him onto us, bagende!” Esogu added.
Another elderly person, Max Opejo said it was unfair for old people to continue occupying offices. “We need peaceful change of leadership; our president should stop being greedy and leave the young people to occupy these offices and take care of us,” Opejo said.