When money sneezes, Balaam Barugahara, whose job title is now unknown, catches cold. He just sniffs it and all hell breaks loose.
Such is what happened when he heard that the Uganda Cranes team was grumbling over an unfulfilled presidential pledge. For about a fortnight, Balaam has had sleepless nights over the money, and he is not letting the Uganda Cranes’ players sleep either.
Remember Prsident Yoweri Museveni pledged $1M as a token of appreciation towards the team for making it through the AFCON group stage in Egypt last year.
“I’m very happy the Uganda Cranes went up to the last 16. I know we will perform better next time. I will organize $1m with the Government to distribute it among the players and officials. Ofcourse, the officials will not get as much as the players,” Museveni noted.
The wait has been on for more than a year, a thing that saw an uproar on social media after the team had been tossed left, right and centre with no clear feedback on the pledge status.
“We have been patient enough, but the problem is that we keep getting contradicting updates from FUFA and state house,” team Captain Denis Onyango told Mbarara City News.
He said it is why they approached the Head of State directly, ignoring all the avenues. Their direct approach was through social media.
This is the first time Uganda Cranes has been in a money ‘war’ with State House. All their other troubles have been with FUFA. One might wonder if this is about trust as FUFA was the one lobbying for financial boost on behalf of the players.
Bad Black opened our eyes, Onyango says.
In this ‘we want our ka money’ project, one thing we are certain of is that the lobbying has been intense behind closed doors, but public social media campaign was a result of Bad Black’s approach that saw her walk away with a small box of money and an MOU.
“Naffe Uganda Cranes Mzee teyatusasula oba tugende ewa Balaam. Naye waa 50/50 (commission). Let’s keep waiting.”
That was the tweet on June, 20 by goalkeeper Jamal Salim that started the campaign. It was supported by assistant Captain Hassan Wasswa Mawanda, “Yes Jamal, we have to get that money because if we always stay silent, we shall end up being the losers. Kaguta Museveni, President, we have not been paid yet.”
Other players went on to copy and paste Onyango’s message on their timelines, a thing that saw Balaam Barugahara and Ashburg Katto reach out and give them offers while asking them to calm down.
“Greetings President Kaguta Museveni, in these tough COVID-19 times, we find the timing right to remind you about the $1m promise after AFCON last year. We feel frustrated and unhappy that our token of appreciation hangs in balance. Pliz intervene,” read the message Balaam and Ashburg wanted players to pull down.
The players ignored Balaam and Katto’s pleas. When Balaam hinted that he could take them to the President, they ignored him.
Balaam, Ashburg harass Players with calls at mid night.
There have been several tales about how hard it is to get the audience of the President. It is a game of snakes and ladders, whether you go through official channels or use unorthodox means.
Ignoring cabinet minister or state House Officials, there are middle men who take people to the president.
Balaam has claim to that fame, and when there is no one seeking his services, he extends “ help” to them, by hook or crook, to take them meet sevo.
The latter is what is happening as Mr. Connections Balaam and new recruit Ashburg are harassing Uganda cranes` players, mostly captain Onyango, with endless calls and Whatsapp messages. “Those guys are always on my phone. Iam not a socialite or a celebrity so I can`t deal with them. Actually we don`t need them and they should stay away from this issue,” Onyango told The Kampala sun. “The concerned people have already contacted us and the state minister for sports Dennis Hamson Obua, is in the know.”
“We are following up, be optimistic that this particular pledge will be paid, ”Obua reportedly informed the players.
Onyango did not just tell Balaam and Ashburg to stop calling him and find something else to do, he also told them not to disturb his fellow players, for no single person was going to pay them any commission when the president`s pledge is finally fulfilled.
“Balaam should stop calling us late in the night. We have families to keep warm during the night,” one of the players noted, adding that he even went on to block him.
This is a deal gone wrong and a bad patch on Balaam`s glittering CV that had Bad Black as his most recent conquest. Balaam also conspicuously turned up with Sudhir Ruparelia`s team at court recently. The others he has reportedly taken to meet the President are King Michael, Big Eye, Full figure, Catherine Kusasira, Bebe Cool, Salvador Idringi and Ashburg Katto.
Now that the crane`s team has finally binned the middleman, their other challenge is of a legal nature. With all those tweets tagging President Museveni, will they be charged for cyber bullying the person of President?
“Tweets, let me hope Uganda Cranes reminding His Excellency @KagutaMuseveni about his $1m promise via the internet isn`t cyber bullying,” Onyango wondered on Wednesday.
All our six calls to Balaam yesterday all went answered, and we hope he doesn`t claim cyber bullying.