Gulu Leaders protest Shs 24 million Govt’s offer for independence celebration

Gulu District leaders have complained that Shs 24.8 million offered by government for the 53rd National Independence Day celebrations set to be hosted by Gulu district is not enough.

The central government recently released the money to the district accounts as part of funds towards preparations of the national event.

The district leaders however said the money is little arguing that it was released even before the district had issued their budget for the celebration to the central organizing committee for the event.

Mr Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, LCV Chairperson Gulu told in Acholi Times on Wednesday in an interview that the central government’s offer was way too little to cater for visitors, meals, and general preparation of the event.

He said the district executive committee in a meeting they had, early this week came out with a Shs 104 million proposed budget for preparations of the event which the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Gulu had taken to the central organizing committee by Tuesday night.

“We are going to have an estimated 10,000 visitors for the national celebration. Others will be foreign dignitaries, this is not just a mere celebration and we need to make it a colorful event but with the government’s offer, this may not be achieved,” says Mr Mapenduzi.

He said the district work plan and budget at the moment is limited and cannot support any national event but noted that the district may only contribute a small token which will not fully cover the proposed budget for the national event.

“What our committee members worked on is what we feel is practical, we looked at what needed more allocation of funds like catering budgeted at Shs 61 million, mobilization and publicity at Shs 21 million and traditional entertainment, these are already beyond the Shs 24 million government offered,” says  Mapenduzi.

We want to coordinate with the Central Organizing committee on this tentative budget, where things are hard we shall bend, but I won’t be pleasant if the government fails to allocate funds for the proposed budget, Mr Mapenduzi said.

“We shall try our level best with the district business persons, stake holders to raise some money, but if it fails we shall also have no alternative but to proceed on with what we have at hand,”

Newly appointed Gulu Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Capt Santos Okot Lapolo while attending a district organizing committee meeting for the Independence Day celebration at district council hall on Thursday protested the cash released by the government.

“This is small money given (Shs 24.8 million), we are trying to negotiate with the central government to increase the money so as it fully cover our budget for the event. This event means a lot to us,” says Capt Lapolo.

High gear preparations

Late last month, the UPDF Engineering brigade kicked off the construction of the Shs 1 billion modern parade grounds at Kaunda grounds in Gulu Municipality where the national celebration is expected to be held.

The construction works will be in phases and the first phase which will constitute a tent area, standard pavers, access roads and parking lot for Very Important persons (VIPs), parade arena and will be handed over before 9th October for use.

Last year’s impendence celebrations were held at Kololo Airstrip in Kampala.