Tension as Lango MPs Confront Education Ministry over Akii Bua Stadium

IMG 20240113 WA0063
Dr Samuel Acuti Opio, MP Kole North
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Lango Parliamentary Group clashed with Ministry of Education officials today regarding the construction of Akii Bua Stadium to host AFCON 2027. This occurred during the presentation of the budget framework paper for the financial year FY 24/25 to the Education and Sports Committee in Parliament.

Tensions escalated after the Education Permanent Secretary, Ms. Ketty Lamaro, indicated in her submission that there was an unfunded priority for AFCON of 2.19 trillion Ugx. This amount was required to pay hosting fees and construct two stadia. However, she did not mention the names of the two stadia in her presentation.

This drew criticism from Dr. Samuel Opio Acuti, the Member of Parliament for Kole North and representative of Lango Parliamentary Group (LPG). He questioned why the Ministry of Education had not disclosed the names of the two stadia to be constructed when they were already known. Dr. Acuti proceeded to table the official government position on AFCON, which was presented to Parliament by the Minister of Education on October 3, 2023. The position affirmed that Akii Bua was one of the two stadia designated to host AFCON. He further presented a copy of the East Africa AFCON bid submitted to CAF, supporting his claims of Akii Bua as one of the stadia for AFCON 2027. He accused the Ministry of backtracking from the government position and warned that the Akii Bua issue had escalated from a hot to a volcanic issue in Lango, which could erupt politically at any time. He requested the committee to include the budget for the construction of Akii Bua Stadium in the 2024/2025 budget.

Additional reactions came from Hon. Etuka Isaac from Upper Madi (NRM), who described as unfortunate the move to deviate from the official government position in constructing Akii Bua. Hon. Auma Linda, the woman Member of Parliament for Lira District and spokesperson for LPG, informed the meeting that there was widespread dissatisfaction in Lango over the exclusion of Akii Bua from AFCON. Some residents had resorted to petitioning CAF, and there was a need for the government to intervene and resolve the impasse.

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Hon. Julius Achon, the MP for Otuke East (NRM), decried the government’s failure to celebrate its sports heroes. He questioned whether he, as an Olympian for life, would be remembered when the first Olympic gold medallist, John Akii Bua, was still struggling to be remembered more than 50 years after winning Gold.

In response, the Education Permanent Secretary indicated that Akii Bua Stadium was a pledge, and Lira didn’t have any international airport to qualify to host AFCON. Additionally, she mentioned that government had earlier received funds to construct Akii Bua, but the project was affected by Covid-19. She, however, stated that the Ministry had agreed to include funds for the construction of Akii Bua Stadium in the 2024/2025 budget.

Her claims about Lira lacking an airport and, therefore, not being able to host AFCON did not sit well with the Lango MPs. Dr. Samuel Opio Acuti challenged the Permanent Secretary to explain whether Kampala, which has Nakivubo Stadium, one of the AFCON stadia, has an international airport.

Hon. Chair, Nakivubo Stadium is in Kampala, which has no international airport. It will rely on Entebbe airport, which is in a different District. Similarly, Akii Bua Stadium will depend on the Gulu Military Airbase. Secondly, this is not an issue about a pledge but a government position to construct Akii Bua to host AFCON 2027,” he further added.

Hon. Auma Linda accused the Permanent Secretary of telling lies by claiming that the earlier construction of Akii Bua was affected by Covid-19. “We are all aware that the construction of Akii Bua Stadium was not affected by Covid-19 but by the delay of the technical team in the Ministry to provide the technical specifications, leading to the loss of the Chinese grant,” she explained.

The Chair of the Education and Sports Committee, Hon. John Twesigye (NRM), faulted the Permanent Secretary for providing conflicting information, including the false claims on Akii Bua construction being affected by Covid-19, which wasn’t true. He directed the Ministry to go back and harmonize their position on the stadia for AFCON, considering the concerns raised by the Lango MPs.

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Ojok Isaac Walter
Ojok Isaac Walter
1 month ago

It must be very clear that if our Akii Bua is not built NRM bosses should not cross Northern Uganda