May 13, 2018 – In ancient numerology, a cat can cheat death only nine times while the Muslims believe that a thief can only get away with it fourty times.
Both myths are a metaphor for the law of probability and they must have rung loud and true in the ears of Gender, Labour and Social Development Permanent Secretary Mr. Pius Bigirimana this week.
As the OPM scandal unraveled in 2012, Bigirimana, who as PS in that office could have sensed the whiff of the grand corruption that was going on there, somehow emerged as a whistleblower. As his co-principals were carted off to jail and conviction, Museveni described Bigirimana as a whistle blower and quickly transferred him to the Ministry of Gender as PS.
Meanwhile his co-principal, Godfrey Kazinda who was the Principal Accountant carried the can and was convicted and sentenced to jail for grand larceny.
That narrative came into question on Friday, when Bigirimana appeared before the Justice Bamugemereire Commission of Inquiry into the land mess. Clearly shaken, Pious Pius Bigirimana could not explain how a parcel of land he bought for shillings 40 million rapidly appreciated to a value of the shillings 500 million that he collected from the Land Fund supposedly because squatters had settled on it.
Clearly shaken, Bigirimana said that was the value assigned by the Chief Government Valuer. But he could cite any developments he had put on the land for it to appreciate to that value. Museveni’s Whistleblower quickly offered to return the money in case the commission felt that he had received it wrongfully.
The Gender ministry, previously a notoriously ‘dry’ ministry that was considered a halfway house out of cabinet, became flush with cash as soon as Bigirimana was transferred there. Bigirimana was entrusted with the multi-billion shilling Youth Livelihood Project, a cash cow that was supposed to help youth engage in income generating activities by lending them startup capital. Money was given out but recovery is a challenge.
Riding a crest, Bigirimana published two books in 2016. One was about the reconstruction of Northern Uganda while the other was about empowering the youth. He promised to write a third book whose subject would be the loss of integrity in the public service. It might possibly contain a chapter on how a wayward government valuer schemed to soil his otherwise unblemished record to the public.