Monday January 1 2018

Museveni’s unfulfilled pledge angers leaders

A section of the proposed office complex now

A section of the proposed office complex now at the foundation stage at the district headquarters in Luweero Town. PHOTO BY DAN WANDERA 

By Dan Wandera

Luweero- Luweero District is contemplating securing a bank loan to construct the district headquarters after waiting for about 25 years for President Museveni’s pledge in vain.

A fortnight ago, the district councillors moved a motion seeking approval of the relevant government ministries to borrow Shs1b to finance the first phase of the construction of the proposed Shs4.5b office block.

The councillors also faulted the ruling NRM party leaders in Luweero who have done very little to remind the President of his pledge.

“Our repeated attempts to make a follow up on the pledge have not yielded fruit despite the district being well represented at Cabinet level, in government and individuals who serve in strategic government offices including the NRM party,” Mr Ronald Ndawula, the Luweero District chairperson, said during an interview last weekend .

“I believe that the NRM government owes the people of Luweero because of the different challenges which could possibly be beyond human control that they went through,” he said.

He added: “The ruling party should be able to trace its roots and possibly have some of the pledges that are overdue fulfilled. For example the district headquarter block, it was not only a pledge but a compensation which I believe Luweero deserved to have.”

Luweero was the epicentre of the five-year guerrilla war that ushered Mr Museveni’ government to power in 1986.

Residents in the area have been loyal to Mr Museveni by generously contributing to his vote pool and electing ruling party representatives at various levels.

In 2008, the then district chairman, Hajj Abdul Nadduli, currently the Minister Without Portfolio, said government through the Office of the Prime Minister had requested Luweero District to come up with a detailed plan and documentation on the presidential pledge for the office block so that government can generate a possible intervention.

By the time Hajj Nadduli’s two terms of office expired in 2016 government had not yet responded.

According to Mr Joseph Ssemakula, 72, a retired civil servant and resident of Luweero Town Council, the district had the opportunity to have some of the presidential pledges realised before two new districts were carved out of the mother Luweero District.

“The carving out of Nakaseke and Nakasongola districts from the original Luweero narrowed the chances of demanding for some of the pledges that had been made by President Museveni,” Mr Ssemakula claimed.

Mr Ssemakula said the tax base to back up the district local revenue resource envelope reduced by more than half because the carved out districts are cattle corridor areas which provided the bulk of the revenue.

“It is true that Greater Luweero has several individuals serving in different capacities in government who could help press for the realisation of some of the pledges but many have been compromised and currently serve selfish interests,” he added.

Early last year, the State Minister for Higher Education, Mr John Chrysostom Muyingo, approached President Museveni on the plans by Luweero District to construct the office block complex.

The President through State House instructed the Ministry of Finance to have Shs100m extended to the district as a contribution towards the construction.

However, the Shs100m, according to Mr Ndawula and the Chief Administrative Officer, Mr George Gakwandi, has not been released to the district.

According to Mr Bwanika Baale, an elder and the FDC party chairperson for Luweero, the issue is not about the Shs100m pledge, but the old pledge of compensating Luweero for the buildings that were taken over by the Army in Bombo Town.

“I believe our politicians should be realistic and remind the President that he had pledged to have Luweero compensated. The people who meet president Museveni should be bold and remind him of the circumstances under which he made the pledge. It could be that the president cannot remember the history of the pledge,” Mr Baale said.

He added: “We also have several other pledges which include upgrading of Luweero Health Centre IV to a hospital status. It is now or never.”

In March last year , Luweero District mobilised Shs180m for the initial architectural plan and foundation construction process from the local revenue resource envelop but the works have stalled for the last eight months due to lack of funds.

The district council hopes to use the bank loan to construct the first floor of the office complex although a section of councillors are skeptical about the move particularly on how the district will service the loan.

Luweero collects about Shs360m in local revenue which funds most of the projects including the ongoing construction works for the 100 bed ward facility at Luweero Health Centre IV.

When contacted, Hajj Nadduli said he was not in touch with the district leaders as regards to the construction of the office complex.
“I don’t know what they agreed on because I had thought that government was supposed to have taken over the entire process including approving the architectural plan. I will find out what is happening on the ground,” Hajj Nadduli said recently.