Leaders in Bunyoro have asked government to give people in the sub-region access to benefits accruing from natural resources therein.
During celebrations to mark the 24th coronation anniversary of Omukama Solomon Gafabusa Iguru yesterday, the Hoima District chairperson, Mr Kadiri Kirungi, asked government to operationalise Bunyoro University to skill area residents.
Without a public university in the region, Mr Kirungi said, the Omukama’s subjects risk becoming slaves of the ongoing infrastructural developments in the sub-region.
“Your Majesty, without your people getting skills, our children risk becoming slaves of lifting luggage and engaging in casual labour yet the resources are here in our region,” he said.
Government is currently constructing an airport in Hoima District and 10 roads across the sub-region that are critical in facilitating commercial oil and gas operations. Government also plans to set up a crude oil export pipeline and an oil refinery in Hoima.
Mr Kirungi added that district leaders in the sub-region had unanimously rejected a decision by the National Forestry Authority to offer leases in central forest reserves to people from outside Bunyoro yet they had denied them to residents who have protected the forests for generations.
The kingdom prime minister, Mr Andrew Byakutaga, said during a meeting with the Omukama in April, the President agreed to operationalise Bunyoro University and Kigumba Petroleum Institute, and expedite a return of all the kingdom’s restituted properties.
“We, however, asked the President to consider more of our people for government jobs as ministers, ambassadors and on boards and commissions,” Mr Byakutaga said.
He asked government to increase budgets for local governments in Bunyoro to improve on service delivery due to the huge strain on the existing social services in the sub-region by refugees.
He said government should roll out a systematic demarcation of land in order to give people in the area titles under government’s affirmative action programme.
“Many people are suffering with threats of eviction from their land by the rich and some people dressed in uniforms similar to those of Uganda’s security services,” he said.
He said such eviction threats are common in Kyangwali Sub-county in Hoima and in Kiryandongo and Buliisa districts.
The Omukama asked his subjects to work hard to alleviate poverty and work towards peace, unity and development.
“I reaffirm whatever my prime minister has told you” the Omukama said.
In a speech read by Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, President Museveni urged cultural institutions to uphold peace, unity and tranquillity.
“Traditional leaders should continue to help us in ensuring that our languages and cultures are preserved. Our vernaculars must be preserved because they are rich and unique. The young generation must be taught to speak in their local languages for posterity purposes,” the President said.
He called upon Bunyoro Kingdom to join him in intensifying the aggressive crusade for the improvement of household incomes. “The people of Bunyoro should engage in wealth creation by planning carefully, capitalizing on crops that do well in this area,” Mr Museveni said.