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Professor Rubayihayo Was Not A Political Turncoat :: Uganda Radionetwork

Professor Rubayihayo Was Not A Political Turncoat

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He stood for UPC and by UPC until his death.
16 May 2024 19:28
Uganda People’s Congress supporters are mourning Professor Patrick Rubayihayo who passed away on Wednesday. 

Patrick Rubaihayo was MP for Mbarara Central and Minister for Agriculture and Forestry in the 1981- 85 Obote government. He was also the National Chairman and treasurer Uganda People's Congress from 2004-2009.

atrick Rubayihayo was one of the few UPC loyalists that kept its fire burning though the NRA/NRM party banned political party activities. He continued to serve the party after the death of Dr. Apollo Milton Obote and worked under the Miria Obote and Ambassador Olara Otunnu administrations.

He was a very highly moral person Former UPC Vice President and Chwa County MP, Livingstone Okello Okello is one of the politicians who worked with Professor Patrick Rubayihayo. He says Patrick Rubayihayo was a very highly moral and honest person. 

Okello Okello said Professor Rubayihayo was not a political prostitute or a political turncoat. “He stood for UPC and by UPC until death. He never moved a foot anywhere. And yet there were many attempts to take him away. 

He was very honest I worked with him. He would tell you a thing as it is, ”said Okello Okello Okello.  Many of Professor Patrick Rubayihayo’s contemporaries have over the years abandoned the Uganda People’s Congress to work with the ruling NRM. 

Political turncoatism is deeply embedded in the country’s politics. Most aspiring politicians only use political parties as financial vehicles and machinery during elections. Okello Okello told URN that UPC has lost a very valuable member of the party and a member of the Milton Obote Foundation board on which he had served for a long period. 

Rubayihayo was the chair of the Board of Trustees of the Milton Obote Foundation. Professor Rubayihayo the Pacifier in UPC There emerged two factions in UPC when Miria Obote was the party President. 

Some party members claimed that while she was at the helm of the party, it appeared that her son, Jimmy Akena was the defacto party leader. Jimmy Akena worked as her assistant. Livingston Okello Okello was the party’s vice president while Professor Rubayihayo served as the National Chairman of the party.

There was a commotion at Uganda House during the elections held to replace Miria Kalule Obote as party President. Ambassador Olara Otunnu was elected as party President in 2011. 

Dr. Olara Otunnu nominated Professor Rubayihayo to reconcile the two factions. “He chaired that committee and they did their work. He wanted the party to remain one,” remembers Okello Okello.

. Minister for Agriculture and Forestry.

The 1980 UPC manifesto earmarked agriculture as one of the priority sectors. It had promised to re-open farm schools and provide them with tools, machinery, and facilities and a scheme of "Earn as You Learn" to cater to farmers who become "students" at the schools. UPC promised technical and professional advisory and research assistance to the farmer.

The services were to be delivered through government farms, research stations, and Agricultural Extension Services. It promised to revive the tractor service. Professor Rubayihayo was appointed Minister of Agriculture and Forestry when Dr. Obote formed his new government. 

Patrick Rubayihayo implemented the tractor scheme after the UPC government imported three thousand tractors. Tractors were distributed to sub-counties. Farmers would only buy fuel.    Rubayihayo also worked with the district farm institutes and research stations to develop more nutritious and better-yielding crop varieties. One of the bean varieties was named after him at least in Ankole.   

Rubayihayo the plant Scientist Away from politics as a UPC diehard, Professor Rubaihayo spent most of his time at Makerere University lecturing agriculture students and conducting research in the area of plant breeding. He was a popular figure at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.  

He was one of the scientists who educated and created the first pool of scientists who have been key in solving some of the plant diseases that the country has faced in recent times. His work in the area of banana research featured in some of the prestigious journals and publications on agriculture and biotechnology. 

While some of his works in the area of plant breeding and biotechnology will remain for generations to come, one would say Professor Patrick Rubayihayo has died a frustrated man because some of the technologies that he and other biotechnologists have developed have either remained in laboratories or and confined field trial. 

He once vented his frustrations after Parliament passed the biotechnology Bill that President Museveni refused to assent to. He said President Museveni needed to be educated about biotechnology.   

“We want to explain to him that there is nothing wrong with the technology, the process involves rigorous testing and evaluation and the products are safe.”

He held that musicians, teachers, and historians in Parliament needed to depend on experts like him because fields like genetic engineering that involved looking beyond the cell level are not simple science," he said.  

Patrick Rubaihayo was a Fellow, Vice President, and Chair of the Research and Publication Committee at the Uganda National Academy of Sciences based in Kampala. 

He was once a Regional PhD Program Coordinator (Plant Breeding & Biotechnology) at Makerere University. Patrick received a PhD degree from the University of Illinois and an honorary Doctor of Science from the University of Helsinki. He was a member of African Crop Science Society. He will be buried on Sunday 19 May 2024 in Mbarara.             

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