‘Disruptive’ Uganda People’s Congress [UPC] party stalwart and former political science don at Makerere University, Dr. Dan Okello has threatened to sue the Uganda government if it does not immediately allocate more funds to the agricultural sector.
In the press release, Dr. Dan Okello, Denis Okwir and others argue that agriculture is the back-bone of the country which employs nearly 80 percent of Ugandans.
The petitioners say each fiscal year government breaches the Maputo Protocol – something they want it quickly addressed through courts of law.
With the budgetary allocations for the financial year 2018-2019 standing at shillings 32.7trillion, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija while reading the national budget months ago, announced that shillings 893billion was allocated to the agricultural sector.
This, according to Dr Dan Okello, is roughly 2.7 percent of the total budget which contravenes the Maputo Protocol singed by African leaders and which Uganda is a signatory.
“We demand an immediate supplementary increase in budget allocation to the agricultural docket to reflect at least 10 percent of the total budgetary allocation for the current financial year 2018/2019,” Dr Okello’s press statement copied to TND News Uganda reads in part.
They say there has been a deliberate and discriminatory move by current regime which infringes on the rights of the farmers.
Using their lawyer Innocent Omara of Omara and Company Advocates, the plaintiffs have now issued a statutory notice of intention to sue the Attorney General on behalf of government if their demand for the 10 percent funding increment to the agricultural sector is not met.
“That all time materials to this case, the plaintiffs are citizens and farmers resident in Uganda……..that we intend to sue the government of Uganda…..” the press release reads
What the Maputo Protocol say
According to an extract from New Partnership for Africa’s Development – NEPAD at the Second Ordinary Assembly of the African Union in July 2003 in Maputo, African Heads of State and Government endorsed the “Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security in Africa” (Assembly/AU/Decl. 7(II)).
The Declaration contained several important decisions regarding agriculture, but prominent among them was the “commitment to the allocation of at least 10 percent of national budgetary resources to agriculture and rural development policy implementation within five years”.
Government statistics on agriculture
According to the information available on the government of Uganda website, Agriculture is a core sector of Uganda’s economy. It contributed about 23% of GDP at current prices in 2011.
Agricultural exports accounted for 48.5 percent of the total exports in 2012. The sector provides the basis for growth in other sectors such as manufacturing and services.
About 60 percent of Uganda’s population is engaged in agriculture, forestry and fishing. Agriculture has grown at an average rate of 2.8% per year in the last 8 years. It presents immense opportunities for growth in other sectors like manufacturing especially agro-processing.
Who is Dr Dan Okello?
Okello retired as a lecturer from Makerere University about ten years ago. He later joined politics and was elected as Lira District UPC party chairman in 2006 a position he currently holds rebelliously.
Okello who is allied to the camp of Joseph Bbosa, the rival UPC party president, is a strong critic of Jimmy James Michael Akena Obote, the UPC party president and Lira Municipality MP.
Mr Okello – whose party president Joseph Mbosa and his executives are carrying out ‘UPC party’ business from unknown place, is not only a detractor of Mr Akena but a sworn critic of President Museveni and his NRM party.
Okello contested for the Erute North parliamentary seat in the 2016 polls but lost miserably with six others to FDC’s Charles Angiro Gutumoi.