Aronda Investigates CSO Activities In Oil Region

The unending complaints over activities of some Civil Society Organizations-CSOs in Bunyoro are attracting the attention of Uganda’s ministry of Internal Affairs.

Former Chief of Defence Forces General Aronda Nyakairima is now Minster of internal affairs
Former Chief of Defence Forces General Aronda Nyakairima, Uganda’s Minster of internal affairs

General Aronda Nyakairima, the country’s Minister of Internal Affairs says the ministry has received numerous complaints from district officials about these CSOs doing activities they were not registered for.

Aronda says most of these organizations are interfering with the government program of building an oil refinery in Kabaale, Buseruka Sub County in Hoima district, by mobilizing residents against the project.

The former Chief of Defense Forces-CDF has been in Bunyoro since Monday, holding several closed-door meetings with various regional stakeholders.

In a press briefing on Thursday, Nyakairima said his visit to the region was to investigate these reports and chat a way forward on how to deal with non-compliant CSOs.

Nyakairima says his investigations so far indicate that a couple of CSOs have continuously worked against government efforts to establish the oil refinery in Hoima.

Although he refuses to name any of such organizations, the minister says they risk being de-registered.

It is not the first time government officials are accusing Non-government organizations-NGOs of sabotaging government programmes. In May this year Bunyoro Affairs Minister Ernest Kiiza, threatened to cause arrest of Civil Society activists that are undermining government programmes especially in the oil sector.

The Minister accused some CSOs of being reckless in their statements and feeding the local population on what he called falsehoods to incite them against the oil refinery project government plans to undertake in the Kabaale area.

CSOs such as African Institute for Energy Governance-AFIEGO, Bunyoro Local Oil Advocacy Group-BLOAG and Navigators of Development Association-NOVODA, among others are actively on ground in the Kabaale oil refinery area.

Although government accuses these activists of inciting the residents against the refinery project, the activists maintain that their work is entirely advocacy to ensure that the peoples’ rights are protected.

Michael Businge, the regional Program Assistant at AFIEGO, recently told local media that much as they realize the importance of the refinery, the facility should not be built at the expense of peoples’ rights.

More than 7000 residents from 13 villages in Kabaale parish are facing displacement from their ancestral land to pave way for the refinery construction. The refinery is meant to process the commercially viable crude oil in the Albertine rift valley.

Two months ago, government began disclosure of the compensation rates for the affected people ahead of the compensation exercise later this year.

However, CSOs say the exercise is not transparent.

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