So much noise has been made in Uganda by acolytes of the ruling system after the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project basing on environmental and human rights concerns.
Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa called it “economic racism” while President Museveni said the project will go on by “hook or crook.”
There is an online petition, denouncing the EU resolution making rounds on social media platforms especially twitter.
“I have signed this important petition. Please add your voice too,” they announce it with the excitement of someone who has won a lottery.
Interestingly, many of those signing the petition are not the ordinary people in Buliisa or Hoima, who have been displaced without compensation to pave way for the EACOP project.
Those signing are not ordinary Ugandans; the Uncle Toms and Mama Jonah type who have to endure poor social services and economic hardships brought about by theft of public resources.
They are not the young people or political activists jailed or tortured for choosing to hold political views that are not palatable to the state.
The people signing the petition are the Mercedes Benz-driving-city lawyers, senior government officials, some business people and a few opportunists all joined at the hip by the singular desire of scheming on how they can benefit from the anticipated oil windfall by whatever means!
The EU Parliament resolution has given them the platform to cunningly dress their “personal interests” as “national interests.”
They are trying to whip national sentiments against the resolution saying Uganda and Tanzania are sovereign countries that do not need lectures from neo-colonialists, whose “mannerisms” they love to imitate in the way they dress, food they eat and cars they drive.
None has offered a detailed rebuttal to the EU Parliament resolution because not many people have read and understood it.
The resolution actually does not raise anything fundamentally new about the project that has not been said before.
It just puts emphasis on the fact that some of the issues that have dogged the project such as lack of environmental safeguards; many people are yet to be compensated; that some people were violently evicted from their land; that activists who speak about some of these things are being threatened or arrested.
Since Uganda discovered oil, government has been opaque (to borrow the famous word used by the four dissenting IEBC commissioners in Kenya) about some of the processes in the exploration and development stages.
A number of oil prospecting agreements have never been made public and calls for transparency in the entire process have fallen on deaf ears.
Oil, they say, is a matter of national security (or is it personal financial security).
The revelations of gross mismanagement and influence peddling at some of the public corporations like Uganda Airlines have reinforced fears that the same thing will happen when the oil starts flowing.
Yes, we need the oil and the resultant revenues but no, I will not sign the petition denouncing the EU parliament resolution because it is petty.
The author is the Editor of Nile Post. The views expressed here are personal.