By Fred Kiva and Johnbosco Tugume
HOIMA. The Omukama of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom Solomon Gafabusa Iguru on Sunday named a new cabinet, appointing a Minister in charge of Oil and Gas and another in charge of reparations and restituted assets.
In the new cabinet, Petroleum Geologist Andrew Byakutaga was retained as the Prime Minister and added another responsibility of Minister for Oil and Gas. It’s the first time Iguru is appointing a Minister in charge of Oil and Gas and this is seen as a move by the Kingdom to well position itself in the wake of the ongoing oil activities in the region.
The kingdom has always lacked the technical expertise and a deliberate program to prepare its subjects in the face of the oil opportunities. The oil discovery in Bunyoro has come with far reaching implications, among them displacement of communities to pave way for oil projects, the fast developments coupled with the rapid population explosion as many people get attracted to the region to tap the oil benefits among others. All this necessitated a deliberate effort by the Kingdom to prepare its subjects and also guard against cultural erosion amid oil developments.Appointment of a petroleum geologist to head the Oil and Gas Ministry is enough indication of how the Kingdom is readying itself for the nascent oil sector.
The Omukama also appointed three deputy Prime Ministers, with one specially assigned to chase for Bunyoro reparations and restituted properties.
“The Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom has appointed Mr. Stephen Twesige Besisira as the 3rd Deputy Prime Minister/Minister Bunyoro Reparations & Restituted Properties with immediate effect. To this end, Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom, the central government and the general public is hereby informed,” reads a note from the Office of the King dated October 22. The 3rd Deputy Prime Minister position was not on the list of the cabinet members released yesterday.
Bunyoro Kingdom is currently in talks with the central government for the full return of the restituted properties, which among others include land, forests and buildings. The properties reverted to central government following abolition of Kingdoms by the Obote government in 1967. Following the restoration of Kingdoms by NRM in 1993 government returned the assets, although land titles and other ownership documents still remained in the hands of the central government.
It’s believed that this unique Ministerial position will play a vital role in the ongoing engagement between the government and the Kingdom on the full return of restituted assets.
Omukama Iguru dissolved his 33-member cabinet in June this year amid accusations of illegal sale of Kingdom assets. The King only appointed a Prime Minister together with a few assistants to tentatively run the Kingdom.
In his latest reshuffle, the King trimmed his cabinet from 33members previously to only 13Ministers. He did not give reason for downsizing his cabinet, however after dissolution of the previous cabinet, Dr. Fred Kabagambe Kaliisa, who is the Chairman of the Bunyoro Royal Commission said, the King would take some time doing thorough scrutiny to ensure that only the most relevant ministries are retained and capable persons appointed to serve in the next cabinet.