By Joseph Uzelle & Catherine Tusemeriirwe
The National Economic Empowerment Dialogue (NEED) party has embarked on inspiring journalists in Bunyoro to help the local people to start asking how they will benefit from oil and gas and other natural resources.
“As citizens, we must have an active role in our resources. God did not make a mistake creating oil and fertile land in Bunyoro. We must be participants in putting our issues on the national agenda,” said Mr Nassar Biira Kiwanuka, the lead facilitator at the engagement held at Nsamo Hotel in Hoima city.
“We need to continue interfacing with the people of Ankole, Kigezi and other Ugandans. Bunyoro must be given special consideration while discussing issues about natural resources inside it,” he added.
Mr Kiwanuka said that as NEED, they die for ensuring that resources are exploited in a sustainable manner stressing that journalists have a big role to play towards ensuring that the population participates meaningfully.
“Once they are provided with the right information, they will be able to understand their entitlements and be able to demand in good faith. If we are running a $1m in the oil projects, we must ask ourselves what is our stake? He said.
Mr Kiwanuka added that there are few chances remaining for the people of Hoima city and the city itself to sustainably benefit from the oil resources and short of it, it will be more of a trading centre in the next 10 years.
“It is only the media which can put Bunyoro on the frontline to benefit from the oil and gas sector,” he observed.
According to him, the media has a big role to play to ensure that the people of Bunyoro harness the opportunities in the oil industry and appreciate its shortcomings so they can also participate in mitigating those side effects.
He also identified the need for the local investors to join hands and be able to handle projects that may need huge capital so they can increase the quality and quantity of production.
“Once people of Bunyoro, especially people in Hoima city irresponsibly use their resources, in the next 10 years the entire region will be backward with a city looking like a trading centre,” he warned, highlighting some Nigerian oil areas where locals instead became poorer.
Mr Asuman Marijan Odaka, the NEED General Secretary, advised the people of Bunyoro especially the youths to consider making strategic and long-term investments in order to tap into the natural resources in their land.
“There is no need for the children here to fly abroad for employment opportunities. One can work within the available environment to get economically empowered,” he advised.
Adding: “I would stop you from thinking about it because you are already blessed with what to do and make you rich at your own home.”
Bunyoro is the main host of the major oil projects of Tilenga, Kingfisher and the oil refinery project under development.
NEED is a political party led by Mr Joseph Kabuleeta who lost his contest for presidency in the past general elections.
At the dialogue, the facilitators did not relent to urge journalists to sensitise the masses about voting the right leaders in the coming elections because leaders play a big role towards protecting the interest of the population.
Mr Kabuleeta was not present in this engagement that took place this week.