Kampala- Former National Forestry Authority (NFA) executive director Michael Mugisa on Friday gave an emotional address, calling for the office holders to be given a chance to serve at least 10 years.
Mr Mugisa, who handed over office to Mr Tom Obong Okello in Kampala, said he had not witnessed the fruits of his sweat despite helping NFA recover 70,000 hectares of forest land out of 200,000 hectares from encroachers, and planting more than 4,000 hectares of trees.
He said in six years of his reign, he also spearheaded re-surveying and mapping of 1,500km of forests and signing more than 30 memoranda of understanding with various partners to manage better forests.
“It is very important that a sitting executive director of NFA has some time to ensure all the strategies he thinks of do bear some fruit when he is still in office,” Mr Mugisa said.
“Without mincing words, I was here for three years renewable up to six years. When I was here, people were saying, why don’t you make a proposition that the ED term is too small? I said, when I am a sitting ED, I will not make it but when I get out I will make it. The ED should serve at least 10 years and retire,” he added.
Mr Mugisa said “a lot of things” have been achieved within the six years, including fighting corruption, building donor confidence and persuading government to increase budgetary allocations to NFA.
“When I came here, there were hesitations of donors to support us. Some funds were frozen but as I am leaving, many partners are coming on board,” he said. “When I joined [in 2012], it was around Shs12b but I am leaving when it is almost Shs40b.”
Environment minister Sam Cheptoris tasked the new ED to restore the degraded forests. Responding to the call for extension of the office term of ED, Mr Kibuule said: “I have heard the recommendation that we need to extend the term from three to five years. I do not know whether everyone agrees, but of course everyone would like to continue to serve.”
Towards the end of his term in February, NFA board chairman Mr Gershom Onyanga wrote to Solicitor General Francis Atoke, seeking legal guidance on whether Mr Mugisa was eligible for reappointment after the lapse of two terms. Mr Atoke advised against the proposal and the exercise to recruit a new ED commenced immediately.