By Kevin Patrice
Following the miraculous metamorphosis of pop star Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu into a high-grade political ranking in the country that has since seen him raise to be one of the most thought after contenders for the Presidency, there has been a popular debate on whether age is an important factor in politics at any given level.
We talk to Honorable Asiinah Kagoya, who is arguably been the country’s youngest lawmaker at the level of the Municipality to take us through her political journey.
At just 18 years of age, Kagoya, who is actually the Municipality Deputy Speaker for Bugiri was arguably the youngest lawmaker at the municipal level when she was voted to represent the youths at the Municipality in 2016.
Who is she
Kagoya Assina was born on 13 Oct 1997 in Bugiri Town Council. She rose from a very humble background attending local schools in Bugiri until she made it through to University. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in information technology.
In 2016 when General elections were conducted, she was in her senior six vacations when she got an idea of politically serving her people. She successfully contested to represent the youths at Bugiri Municipal Council as it was called then.
Surprisingly, the youthful Municipal Deputy speaker says hers was the first political victory to be celebrated in her family as there was no political history from her most immediate relations.
At that time, the Town Council had been granted a Municipal status that wouldn’t be approved until about four months after her election.
On July 1, 2016, Bugiri became a functional Municipality and the Town Councillors formed the new Municipal Council.
Two years later, the electoral area was divided I two Divisions and she had to make a choice between retaining her position as a Division Councillor or resigning to seek re-election onto the Municipal Council where she chose the latter.
She was voted and resultantly became the new Municipal legislative body’s Deputy speaker, a position she holds up to now.
At the same time, she was admitted to Kampala International University where she was appointed to the University Guild as Minister of Health.
She says the dual experience at both the Municipality and Guild Council helped her a lot in conceptualizing things which always made her stand out in whatever she used to do.
“The Municipality experience gave me confidence and made me more informed among my fellow cabinet members as my submissions were always more practical than experimental. As a result, I saw myself being delegated with more work from the Guild which raised my bar,” recollects the youthful ambitious politician whose eyes are set on the Bugiri District Woman Mp seat currently occupied by Agnes Taaka.
She says that diligence, trust, and hard work are the most important values she will never let go of her as they have transformed her into the person she always wanted to be.
” I made sure I never missed any council meetings in Bugiri a part from on rare occasions where I had an exam for which I would notify the speaker on time not to cause myself the embarrassment,” She says.
Having served her people to the best of her ability, she feels it’s now time to take on another challenge.
” I feel I have served my people well and now is the time for me to give way other young people to also have the chance to serve. And that’s how it should always be,” she confidently says before clarifying that the task ahead for her will be the Woman MP seat in the next year’s polls.
Even though she looks young, (and indeed she is) her aspirations for her people are those for true political legends.
Asked to highlight what she intends to do for her people, the area Municipal lawmaker first sighs with confidence before taking me on as though she has had the answers on her head for the last five years.
“You know all we need to do is to bring the young people to take up political and social responsibilities by sensitizing them about the fact that the future of the country belongs to them and our parents were just keepers who are now ready to hand over to us,” She begins with the confidence of a priest announcing the imminent return of Lord Jesus.
Her leadership will revolve around empowering the youths as a conduit for rapid economic and social growth, further explaining that an empowered youthful population is a guaranteed future population.
She emphasizes the use of interaction platforms with their leaders to discuss important decisions that affect society which she says would go a long way towards ensuring an informed population which would resultantly lead to easy importation of government programs.
Her major concern is education. According to her, very few of the children in her district make it to senior four despite the high enrollment figures at the primary level. This says that the alarming rate of school dropouts is a real recipe for disaster if not solved immediately. She says concerted community efforts to keep children in school should be a focus for all political, cultural, and religious leaders.
She also castigates the popular acts of forcing children into paid human labor, adding that local leaders need to take up the initiative to combat the deadly voice.
Ms. Kagoya also says that in the box to improve the general livelihood of her people, much emphasis will be put on empowering women since they contribute greatly towards the upbringing of their children than their male counterparts. She gave an example of where some men spend weeks or even months without seeing their children, sometimes because they work from far or even because they are attending to their other families from other women. In such circumstances and very often, it’s the mothers who keep with the children.
She proposes encouraging women to organize themselves in saving groups where they can pull resources and also get financial assistance feared towards development from the government and financial institutions.
On whether giving the young people political responsibilities was not a risky adventure to undertake, Ms. Kagoya insists that human wisdom doesn’t result out of age.
” Some people are as dense as a ten-year-old even when they are at 50. Individual judgment is all that would be required other than generalizing, ” she retorted.
Asked to comment on the suitability for the Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu for the Presidency, Kagoya who seemed too cautious while answering, as if for fear of being misunderstood said that ” He is certainly a great guy and an inspiration to many but I want to be honest with you to say that I am unable to comment on his suitability for the Presidency because I haven’t had an opportunity to interact with him, ” she said.
She added that whoever wanted to judge Kyagulanyi should do it at an individual level but not because he is a youth.
She called upon the youths to prepare themselves for political offices in the next general elections as it’s the only way through which they can get their destiny into their own hands from the elders who are now tired and eager to be relieved.