Former spymaster, Gen David Sejusa on Wednesday gave a moving speech as he faced his commander in chief, President Museveni during the former’s official retiring ceremony from the UPDF.
The maverick general has for the past 26 years sought to forcefully leave the army but at all times been forced to stay until Wednesday when he was officially relieved of active service of the Ugandan army.
Nevertheless on Wednesday, Sejusa who was the most senior retiree attended the retirement ceremony at State House in Entebbe where he last went in 2015 and gave a moving speech
He paid tribute to President Museveni for providing leadership during the struggle and the army leadership as well as the people of Uganda.
“I am proud to belong to NRA/UPDF, which has made incredible strides. I thank the people of Uganda from all regions for their sacrifices. We all know there was a phase in our struggle when our civilian population was the vanguard. They were our eyes, the ears, our protectors, they fed us and this phase took a bigger part of 1981. They gathered intelligence; they carried out reconnaissance missions for us to acquire small arms and so on. If we did not have the population on our side, then there would be no NRA/UPDF and certainly NRM,” Gen Sejjusa said, adding that it’s not easy to keep a country peaceful for 40 years.
President Museveni poses for a photo with the 48 retiring UPDF generals.
Gen Sejjusa, noted that however much a lot has been done; a lot is yet to be achieved to consolidate the victories and the mission to liberate Africa.
“Therefore, continue training, take advantage of the opportunities being provided, make sure that you deepen your ideological horizons but above all, love your nation and honor the people of Uganda always. They are special people for there’s no greater honour than serving the people.”
He saluted specifically saluted his commander in chief, President Museveni for the opportunity offered to him to serve the people of Uganda and for the victories and achievements registered.
“We have shared a lot but we have served Uganda and I am sure Uganda will prosper.”
Speaking to the retiring generals, President Museveni said having done army work for most of their time, it was now time for them to do something for the country in other capacities other than the UPDF.
Museveni said that now that the generals are retiring from active service of the army, they should now use the opportunity to create wealth for themselves now that government is able to send them off with some good remuneration.
“You have done army work .Now, go and do something in the economy in these last years,” Museveni said
He applauded the officers for accepting to work under difficult situations with no or low pay to a stage where the system is now able to support them unlike in the previous armies where officers retired upon death.
“The army of 1971, many Acholi and Langi officers were killed by the Idi Amin group which was coming in. That was their retirement. Now when you’re beginning to retire, the country you supported is now a bit more able to also support you,” Museveni said, adding that this has made retirement a good gesture.
He however cautioned the retiring officers not to listen to opportunists giving them advice on how they should spend their savings but rather invest wisely in commercial agriculture.
“So, my advice to generals, please, buy yourselves land and practice the four acre model of agriculture by venturing into coffee, fruits, pasture for animals (zero grazing), food, chicken and pigs in the backyard, fishing near the swamps etc.”
The Chief of Defense Forces in the UPDF, Gen Wilson Mbasu Mbadi applauded the president for allowing the retiring officers to serve in various capacities and asked them to continue using their experience wherever they will go.
“Retirement is a golden gesture to release them when they’re still energetic. So, General officers retiring today, don’t just retire from UPDF, have something to retire to so that you can keep mentally alert, physically fit and productive,” Gen Mbadi urged.
Whereas 49 generals of the UPDF were supposed to physically attend the retirement ceremony at State House in Entebbe, the number present was 48 since Gen Elly Tumwine died and was buried earlier this week.
Other notables among the retirees included Lt Gen Andrew Gutti, the former chairman of the General Court Martial,Lt Gen John Mugume, Maj Gen Steven Kashaka, Maj Gen Joram Kakaari Tumwine, Maj Gen Manon Katirima Finehans, Maj Gen Elly Kayanja, Maj Gen Geoffrey Balaba Muheesi and Uganda’s most decorated female military officer, Lt Gen Proscovia Nalweyiso who is currently serving as Special Presidential Advisor on Defence and Security.
The UPDF Chief of Personnel and Administration, Maj Gen George Igumba informed the president that 267 senior officers at the rank of Major to Colonel who were part of the same batch had been seen off a day earlier.
Wednesday’s retirement was the 12th batch after 11 batches had been seen off since 2014 making a total of 9026officers who have been retired since then.
According to Maj Gen Igumba, this time around for batch 12, the plan was to retire 2,539 personnel, involving 75 General officers, 429 senior officers, 275 junior officers and 1,760 militants but the number was reduced tremendously to only 316 officers due to budgetary limitations.
“The category of captain all the way to private was pushed to batch 13 in the financial year 2023/24 when their salaries will have been enhanced as we were reassured by you. Therefore, the current batch 12 retiring yesterday and today is an unprecedented one in the history of Uganda since independence and indeed since Uganda became a member of the United Nations, reaffirming your excellency’s resolve to professionalize the force in all aspects of military and defense development,” Maj Gen George Igumba said.
The colorful ceremony was attended by among others the Minister of State for Defense and Veteran Affairs in charge of Defence Jacob Oboth Oboth, the Minister of state for Defense in charge of Veteran Affairs Hon Oleru Huda, families of retiring Generals and other senior officers.