Prime Minister “Ndugu” Ruhakana Rugunda was recently rumoured to be quitting his job as Leader of Government Business. Although this rumour was quickly squelched by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), it does make you go hmmm. And ask the million shilling question: what makes an effective prime minister?
Dr Rugunda is a gentleman of the old school; well-mannered but a little rough around the edges courtesy of being the person he is.
So he may pull out a woman’s chair to make her feel at ease and just as easily pull away an opponent’s chair so that person lands flat on their backside!
By this token Ndugu has shown us that a prime minister must be intelligent, but not necessarily guided by common sense.
His tenure (along with Kintu Musoke’s and Prof Apollo Nsibambi’s) has also proven that the OPM works best when run by politicos who are not bound by the provincial demands of their constituencies. So why not appoint former Arsenal boss Arsène Wenger as prime minister? If not him, then we need a leader who follows the managerial practices of Wenger.
Three of these practices standout:
One, Wenger focused on ushering in new phases in his career at Arsenal by nurturing youthful replacements for big-name departures. For instance, in attack, Ian Wright was replaced by Nicolas Anelka who was followed by Thierry Henry.
Two, Wenger was frugal even though he had plenty of cash at his disposal. So Arsenal’s limited activity in the transfer market was a reflection of his restraint instead of the club’s insolvency.
Three, Wenger took a Gunners team floundering on the reef of its Premiership woes and transformed it into league champions, FA Cup winners in his second season and “invincibles” in the season of 2003/04. Then, after 22 years at the helm, he said farewell and walked into the sunset.
In similar fashion, Uganda needs a prime minister who will unearth unknowns on our political landscape in the same manner Wenger brought newbies Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit and Nicolas Anelka to Arsenal.
It is in this spirit of developing new talent that former president Milton Obote nurtured Rugunda, Olara Otunnu and Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile, to name but three.
As sure as the Gunners established a reputation for playing some of the most stylish football in Europe, Obote’s protégés matched Arsenal’s crisp one-touch passing by easily passing muster each time their abilities were tested. Otunnu, for one, became under secretary general of the United Nations and special representative for children and armed conflict from 1997 to 2005.
Again, with our public debt mounting to $15.27 billion, and then some, Uganda needs a prime minister who will look for the cheapest way of doing government business in order to crater this debt.
Wenger’s frugality helped repay much of Arsenal’s £260m debt, accumulated upon the club’s move to the Emirates Stadium. A Wengerian prime minister, even if that leader supports Manchester United or Chelsea, would thus be able to manage our debts according to the syntax of sound business sense.
Wenger announced his retirement as Arsenal manager on April 20, 2018.
“Maybe I stayed too long,” he admitted.
If our leaders could look back on their records, without seeking to extend them, but to prevent them from becoming broken, then their records would serve as inspirational and not cautionary tales.
“The supporters were not happy any more. You can understand that, at some stage, 22 years, people want a change,” said Wenger.
When a Ugandan leader can make such an admission, then that leader may solve what President Museveni once termed (pun intended) as Africa’s biggest problem.
Mr Matogo is the managing editor Fasihi Magazine.