President Yoweri Museveni on Tuesday evening held a special meeting with MPs-elect from Northern and Karamoja region to discuss pertinent issues affecting social and economic transformation.
The meeting which started at about 6:00pm included all the elected new NRM MPs, and independents from Northern Region including Karamoja led by NRM Vice Chairperson for Northern region Jacob Oulanyah, who also doubles as Deputy Speaker of the 10th Parliament.
According to president Museveni, the meeting was to touch base with the Northern and Karamoja MPs to “discuss on a point-by-point basis, issues affecting our people in that region and remedies.”
In his opening remarks, Museveni congratulated the MPs-elect for making it to the 11th Parliament and in a special way thanked the people from Northern and Karamoja region for overwhelmingly voting for NRM in the just concluded election. For the first time, President Museveni scored a record 65% votes in Northern Uganda with the majority of the NRM parliamentary candidates sailing through. In 1996 elections, Museveni scored just 12% votes and the percentages have remained lagging in the respective elections of 2005, 2011 and even 2016. NRM leaders in Northern Uganda led by their CEC representative Jacob Oulanyah have been greatly credited for this success.
During the meeting, the two regions; Northern and Karamoja presented issues that generally cut across that needed urgent government intervention. The sub regions of Acholi, WestNile and Lango presented similar issues of agriculture, production, value addition and markets, while Karamoja issues circled around insecurity which the President pledged to address. Other issues that took centre stage include; cattle compensation, Acholi war debt claimants, food insecurity in Karamoja, etc.
Museveni promised that food insecurity in Karamoja would be dealt with by increasing fast maturing seedlings and an increase in relief by the Office of the Prime Minister.
In a bid to build a self-sustaining household plan, the MPs proposed that the government avails agricultural inputs such as two tractors per constituency to facilitate agriculture on a large scale. The President however, disagreed with them saying that two tractors per constituency cannot support commercial agriculture. Museveni proposed that 5 tractors per constituency would be more plausible.
He further challenged MPs to engage in large scale farming if they are to empower their communities and drive the country into middle income status. He promised to bring in experts to share in their best practices so that the members would get first hand information from them.
It is at this juncture that the NRM Vice Chairperson for Northern region Jacob Oulanyah supported the President’s proposal and requested that it would be pertinent that the president reconsiders some benchmarking trips for MPs, citing that it would improve their legislation and policy making.
Oulanyah added that although some trips were “bad” the important ones are necessary for the MPs to learn best practices for the good of the country. Oulanyah’s proposal received a huge applause from the MPs. Oulanyah who is a candidate in the speakership race has on several occasions emphatically criticized the current leadership at Parliament for derogating and abusing the meaningful purpose of benchmarking trips and turning them into “favours” from the Office of the Speaker.