KAMPALA — On Thursday, Army officers and their members of their families who attended the retirement ceremony held at military headquarters in Bomb were treated to drama after Col. Charles Barija cried out to President Museveni to save him boda boda embarrassment in retirement.
Col. Barija who was one
one of Mr. Museveni’s close escorts during the 1981-86 guerrilla war asked for a promotion to the next rank of brigadier saying it would be befitting if the Commander in Chief used his powers to promote him to the next rank before he retires.
Teary Col. Barija spoke at the military retirement of 618 senior and junior officers including 14 generals.
“I kindly request my beloved president whom I have been loyal to, to remember me and reward me with a rank of brigadier general so that I don’t use boda bodas while going home and I promise to keep discipline.”
Col. Barija said he joined the military in 1979 from Kakoba in Mbarara and trained at the Kabamba school of infantry and was promoted to the rank of Corporal, having emerged as the best trainee from field craft.
He would later be posted in Kampala, in D coy under the command of Lt Col Bazilio Olal Okello.
His maiden mission, he says was to escort Mr. Museveni who was the vice chairman of the Military Commission. Military Commission had assumed presidential powers following the historic downfall of President Idi Amin. It also comprised Gen Tito Okello and Paulo Muwanga.
Col. Barija says he performed the assignment well and that he would proceed to rescue Mr. Museveni at a roadblock in Kireka on Saturday, October 11, 1980 after he had been arrested.
Barija recounted that soldiers had forced Museveni, his wife Janet and their son Muhoozi Kainerugaba who is now a military general to sit on the ground by the roadside for a number of hours.
“In my first operation, I rescued His excellency Gen Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, his wife Maama Janet and First Son Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba under the command of Lt David Rubereza and 2ndLt Salim Saleh by then,” Col Barija recounted.
He, however, noted that of the people who rescued Museveni and his family, only three including Gen Saleh, Brig Mwesigwa Bitanuzire and himself .
He would later join Museveni in the bush war after the 1981 alleged election fraud sparked skirmishes.
Col. Barija urged UPDF soldiers to maintain love and respect to one another, a foundation that he said was started in 1981.
“Please don’t forget the people who started UPDF family and respect them because they did a great job that you are enjoying now,” he urged.