By Ivor Sempa
Adults, take note. Children are watching. Often, they dream of being like you. For Gilbert Nyaika, he looked up to three uncles who served in Uganda’s army, the Uganda People’s Defence Forces. He loved the way they conducted themselves and the respect they earned in society.
Someday, the young Nyaika told himself, he would be like them.
When he graduated with a Uganda Christian University (UCU) Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance in 2008, Nyaika got employed in a telecommunications company. But his heart was restless. That is not where he thought he belonged.
Seven years later, in 2015, when an advert calling for people to join the Police force was published in the Uganda Gazette, Nyaika saw it as his chance to join the armed forces. He applied and got the job. Nyaika was a regular Police officer at the Hoima Police Station. According to the Police Act, the Police is supposed to protect people’s lives and property, as well as their rights, maintain security within Uganda, enforce the laws of Uganda, ensure public order and safety, detect and prevent crime in society, and perform the services of a military force.
In 2020, Nyaika was promoted to Assistant Superintendent of Police – the officer in charge of Police stations in Bunyangabu district in western Uganda. He reports directly to the Regional Police Commander.
One would think that holding such a demanding office of overseeing Police posts in the whole district would keep Nyaika away from the everyday law enforcement impact. Far from it. In fact, he says part of the reason for his promotion last year was because of how he was positively impacting communities, and those appointing him don’t want that work to cease.
Nyaika has contributed to the infrastructural development of up to 13 schools in Bunyangabu district. Through his resource mobilization skills, in 2020, Nyaika mobilized up to $40,000 (about sh145m) from donors. This money was used to build classrooms, and purchase furniture and scholastic materials for learners. Some of the beneficiary schools were Bunyangagu Progressive School, Hoima Advent Primary School and Hoima Modern Primary School.
Among the many who applaud Nyaika’s efforts are a former teacher at UCU. Vincent Kisenyi, the former dean at the UCU School of Business, said: “I am proud to see him prosper and that he learnt a lot of values from the university. Nyaika thrives to see change in the community, which makes me feel very happy as his former teacher and mentor.”
So, what did he learn while pursuing studies at UCU?
“My experience at UCU taught me to serve,” Nyaika said. “I was inspired to serve my community using my skills; UCU inculcated in us a sense of social responsibility.”
He is a recipient of the Vice Chancellor’s award by Professor Stephen Noll, who was the UCU Vice Chancellor at the time. Nyaika was awarded after spearheading a cleaning campaign in one of the suburbs of UCU. He served in the UCU guild government of 2006-2007 as a Member of Parliament of the business faculty. The following year, he was appointed the minister for agriculture. His achievements also were mirrored academically as he bagged a second-class upper degree.
Nyaika attended Buhinga Primary School, before joining St. Leo’s Kyegobe Senior Secondary School, for O’level. For his A’level education, Nyaika studied at Mandela Secondary School.
Nyaika’s well-rounded interests include sports. He sits on various sports committees in Uganda, including on the board for the Federation of Uganda Basketball Association (FUBA) and the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA). On the FUFA board, he sits on the ethics and investigations committee. Nyaika also founded a team, Kitara Soccer Club, which plays in the second division in Uganda.