Members of the Greater North Parliamentary Forum have been urged to focus their legislative agenda on the most pressing issues that affect their region.
Speaker Jacob Oulanyah who was meeting members of the forum on Wednesday, 13 October asked them to avoid the temptation of focusing on national issues while forgetting their own plight.
“Let us come down to the greater North issues; mixing up things is what always brings us down,” said Oulanyah.
He asked the MPs to take interest in discussions such as the renewal of the northern region based NUSAF programme whose funding expired two years ago.
“We have big funding gaps; for the last two years, there hasn’t been funding for NUSAF but even then, it has been running on US$100 million for a period of five years. What is US$100 million in five years? How much can it do?” Oulanyah asked.
Oulanyah implored legislators to improve the rankings with motions, bills and petitions that address the region’s specific gaps.
“I need to hear how many laws we intend to propose to bridge the gaps; what questions for oral answers we plan to put forward to government,” he added.
The budget cuts for government programmes as a result of Covid-19 have also affected funding for the greater North, which Oulanyah said calls for strategic thinking so as to come up with well thought through priorities.
“The budget for post war recovery pledges which was shs1.7 billion in the last budget is now at zero in the new budget. Aren’t these the things we should be focusing on?” Oulanyah said adding that, ‘how do we structure the debate now and how do we show the need, how do we insist that certain things will not go through until our things are done, how do we bargain?’
The Chairperson of the Forum, Hon Silas Aogon saidtheir priorities for the next five years will be on land disputes.
“Land disputes are everywhere; in Bunyoro because of oil exploration, in West Nile because of contested boundaries and other areas as a result of unfair land appropriation by the Wild Life Authority, ” he said.
Aogon added that the forum will also prioritise a campaign to urge government to functionalise the newly created districts. He noted that many new districts lack the capacity to deliver services.