The president of Ugandans in North America Association (UNAA), Mr Monday Atigo insists that the association’s Board of Trustees (BOT) which is chaired by Dr Joseph Buwembo is illegally constituted.
Mr Atigo last week disbanded Mr Buwembo’s board claiming they were undermining the confidence of the organization and “causing more harm than good.”
However, Mr Buwembo in reply said Mr Atigo has no authority to disband the UNAA board because he is not constitutionally recognized as the association’s president.
The former UNAA president who nominated the current Board of Trustees, Mr Brian Kwesiga intimated to us that members were nominated on the board that did not meet the requirements hence illegal. Mr Atigo was Kwesiga's Vice President then.
UNAA's constitution has a requirement of five consecutive years of membership for any individual to be eligible to serve on the Board. Interestingly the current impasse is a result of last year's controversial elections, in which Atigo claims he won in Miami. The Board nullified the election based on some voters having failed to meet UNAA membership requirements, the same charge Atigo's camp is accusing the Board, hence serving illegally.
The Board's power to sack Atigo is supposed to be derived from an amendment passed through the same controversial elections which the Board nullified.
The Board advised the Electoral Commission to conduct fresh elections in February via online but the EC according to their secretary, Mr Peter Simbi, unanimously agreed to have the elections conducted during the Association’s convention is Seattle in August.
This was also under fact that it's unprecedented in UNAA's 30-year history of having an election fully conducted online.
With this impasse, it seems only UNAA's general assembly will have the last word in Seattle as the Board's term ends in April. If Atigo hangs in, the Board will be no more.
Constitutionally; The Board of Trustees shall have the power to recommend to the UNAA Council the suspension or impeachment with cause, any member of the Executive Committee and to present the decision of the UNAA Council to the next Annual General Meeting for review and final disposition.
In a January 19 letter to Mr Atigo shortly after he announced that he had disbanded the board, Mr Buwembo said: “The current UNAABOT members' term of office expires in April 2018. A UNAA president has no constitutional powers or right to summarily disband the BOT. I also need to remind you, Mr Atigo, that constitutionally you are not the President and CEO of UNAA at this time, instead you are a presidential candidate.”
“UNAA Board of Trustees recognizes Mr John Julius Muwulya as the interim president until the by-election occurs, at which time the elected individual will be sworn in as the president of UNAA,” Mr Buwembo added.
In a reply later, Mr Atigo responded claiming the board lacked an understanding of the constitution they quote. He then threatened to have them withdrawn for the Association as well.
“They have created confusion among our members and sponsors thereby causing potential financial loss to the organization. This behavior calls for revoking their membership to UNAA as well,” he added.
Mr David Musinguzi, the Board Secretary would later confirm that Mr Atigo has been stripped of all UNAA effects including UNAA records, bank accounts, even the credit cards were canceled.
He said the authority now shifts to Julius Muwulya who was initially Atigo’s deputy.
On whether the current board is illegal as Atigo claims, Mr Musinguzi said that the BOT is not illegal since it was nominated by Mr Atigo in his prior capacity as Vice President.
“If the BOT is illegal as Atigo claims, why did he not kick them out earlier before this fracas?” he asked.
However, Mr Atigo claims that the BOT members were nominated by then President of the association, Mr Brian Kwesiga.
“I did not nominate them. The then President who happens to be Kwesiga cunningly brought them in through the back door. We trusted that he had done his due diligence as President but we were fooled,” Mr Atigo said.
“It was illegal because as we all now know, not all of them met the requirement of having been UNAA members in good standing for five consecutive years preceding their appointment. It should also be noted that he (Brian the then President) had orchestrated the firing of the then treasurer (Mr Jude Ssempungu) and therefore he was the only one with access to check whether these individuals were indeed members in good standing for the required period.”
“Mr Atigo was the Vice President at the time (2013-15) and participated in the nomination - so really this is the height of hypocrisy on his part. Then another member of the board, was actually nominated and appointed by Mr Atigo after he was already President,” Mr Kwesiga said.
Mr Kwesiga, however, conceded that members that were nominated on the board did not meet the requirements hence illegal.
“Technically Yes they are illegal, but it’s more complicated than this...The constitution says that at least two of the five trustees have to be from Canada, and that all trustees must have been members for five consecutive years. The problem with Canada is we don’t have UNAA Members who meet those strict requirements - since most of the UNAA Membership is in the USA. That is how illegal members come in,” he said.
UNAA is the oldest Ugandan diaspora association and they have earned recognition and sponsorship from government to the tune of $100,000 (about Shs380m) annually. However, members of the group have failed work amicably as with each passing year, they disagree over one issue or another.