Opposition leaders yesterday welcomed President Museveni’s decision to dissolve the National Agricultural Advisory Services (Naads) programme due to its poor performance and corruption as “a step in the right direction”.
A State House statement released yesterday said the President on Monday directed Cabinet to dissolve Naads due non-performance and that the Shs120 billion allocated to the project be redirected towards government efforts in enhancing agro-based production.
“I have directed Cabinet to dissolve NAADS. This is due to the mismanagement of funds. The veterans’ project led by the UPDF officers has demonstrated exceptional delivery of services to the intended beneficiaries which is contrary to the fleecing practice of Naads officials,” Mr Museveni is quoted as saying.
Mr Museveni made the remarks while addressing a group of 550 NRM youth leaders from central region at State House, Entebbe.
Shadow Finance minister Geoffrey Ekanya described the President’s directive as “judicious”.
“That’s exactly what has been our alternative for three years. We have always advised the government to channel the money through the Ministry of Agriculture to boost water for production, planting materials, help the farmers access low cost fertilisers and facilitate the establishment of an agriculture bank,” Mr Ekanya said.
While the President condemned the Naads administration for spending Sh24 billion that the government allocated to the project in central region without any sign of value for money on the ground, Opposition leaders, however, blamed the President for politicising the programme.
“Naads was doing well until when he directed that the project is turned into the failed prosperity-for-all project,” Mr Reagan Okumu (Aswa County) said:
However, Minister for Presidency Frank Tumwebaze defended the President’s decision as being ‘farsighted’.
He said: “The President has never politicised the Naads and let the Opposition articulate their own superior programmes if any. How can they complain over a programme that they never designed? How come they have been criticising Naads if it’s good, just like they oppose anything of NRM.”
At the celebrations to mark 28 years of NRM victory held in Mayuge District in January, the President said all national Naads coordinators in the country would be laid off for failure to transform rural communities from poverty. He said whereas the government disburses Shs120b to districts for Naads activities every year, there is no change in the economic status of the rural beneficiaries.