What you need to know:
- Many residents and leaders in Kayunga District have criticised the minister for putting the OPM iron sheets to his personal use, with some asking him to resign from his ministerial position. But the minister has vowed not to resign, insisting he is innocent.
The Minister of State for Finance, Planning and Economic Development (Planning), Mr Amos Lugoloobi, has pleaded with his voters in Kayunga District not to abandon him, saying he is not a thief as critics portray him.
Speaking to hundreds of residents in Kayunga District during the launch of the Parish Development Model (PDM) in the district’s 71 parishes at Kayunga Mayor’s Gardens in Kayunga Town on Tuesday, Mr Lugoloobi expressed shock that some people were calling him “a thief”.
Mr Lugoloobi is one of the ministers named in the current iron sheets scandal.
He reportedly received 600 iron sheets said to be part of relief materials that the government procured through the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) for vulnerable people in Karamoja Sub-region.
This was the first public appearance of the minister in Kayunga District since he was implicated in the iron sheets saga.
“I have for a long time donated iron sheets worth millions to churches, mosques, schools and even individuals using personal money.
Recently, I mobilised Shs105m to buy iron sheets for a seed school in Kayunga Sub-county. Now, how can you allege that I can steal 300 iron sheets?” Mr Lugoloobi, also the Ntenjeru North MP, asked amid laughter from residents.
The minister, who said he had used the OPM iron sheets to roof a goats’ shed on his farm in Misanga Village, Bbaale Sub-county in Kayunga District, revealed that he had removed the iron sheets from the shed and replaced them with new ones he bought using personal money.
He said he had discovered that the OPM branded gauge 28 iron sheets were ‘evil’ and no longer wanted them because they had given him sleepless nights.
In a new twist, Mr Lugoloobi told his voters that he didn’t know the iron sheets for which he is being attacked were meant for the vulnerable people in Karamoja Sub-region.
“When I removed the iron sheets and the people who are calling me a thief came, I surrendered the iron sheets to them. I did not break into a house to steal iron sheets. What you should know is that I signed for them,” he explained.
He added: “I appeal to you to stand with me because I am not a thief. I am just fore-sighted because the goats shed is meant to help me breed goats that will be given out to all parishes in this district. It is my foresight that is making me be called a thief,” Mr Lugoloobi said amid applause from the audience.
Many residents and leaders in Kayunga District have criticised the minister for putting the OPM iron sheets to his personal use, with some asking him to resign from his ministerial position. But the minister has vowed not to resign, insisting he is innocent.
Mr Charles Tebandeke, the Bbaale County MP, asked the people responsible for selecting the PDM beneficiaries not to turn the programme into a political one, insisting that supporters of Opposition parties too should be considered.
“PDM is not a political gift to the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party supporters, but rather a poverty alleviation programme so all residents, despite their political affiliation, should benefit,” Mr Tebandeke said.
The State Minister for Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Ms Joyce Ssebuggwawo, asked residents to own the PDM programme, saying the money under the programme is theirs.