By Henry Gombya
Uganda’s ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) is to continue giving the Uganda North American Association (UNAA) US$20,000 per year to help it organise its annual convention. This was said by the country’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Mr Henry Oryem Okello during an exclusive interview with The London Evening Post (TLEP).
The Minister was answering questions put to him by TLEP at the Sheraton Downtown Denver Hotel, in the great city of Denver Colorado, as to why Uganda keeps sending a high delegation of Uganda government officials during UNAA conventions. For example, this year’s convention was attended, among others, by the country’s Vice President Mr Edward Ssekandi, the speaker of Uganda’s parliament Ms Rebecca Kadaga, Uganda’s Ambassador to the United States, Prof Perezi Kamunanwire, Prof Tarsis Kabwegyere, until this year’s election the Minister for Disaster Relief and Preparedness, senior presidential advisers, several NRM members of parliament, senior staff at the US embassy in Washington, to name but a few.
In answer to this question, Mr Oryem Okello said the presence of so many high-ranking NRM officials was indicative of the recognition by the Museveni government of the role Ugandans in the Diaspora are playing in the development of their country. He revealed that remittances to Uganda from those in the Diaspora now amount to an average of nearly a billion US dollars per year. “Over the years we have realised the enormity and benefit of those Ugandans who, because of Uganda’s turbulent history, many live in the United States, there millions of Uganda who live in Europe.” He said studied his ministry has carried out on remittances made by these Ugandans is enormous.
The foreign minister said it was the intention of the Uganda government to cultivate and work closely with Ugandans in the Diaspora. The NRM had therefore realised the benefit that these Ugandans bring to their country and is now making an effort to make them understand what is taking place back home. In addition, it would continue to give UNAA US$20,000 per year to help them organize their conventions. “We could do better if Ugandans who live in the Diaspora understood government positions, understood what was happening in Uganda and understood that in spite of its difficulties, in spite of its challenges, Uganda is still their country.” He went on to add: “Instead of being antagonistic towards each other, we should work together as Ugandans and have a win-win situation for all of us.”
Oryem Okello went on to explain further that the presence of such a high-powered delegation from the Ugandan government showed that President Museveni was committed to letting all those that live abroad understand that they can have a role in what is happening in their country and while they remain living in the Diaspora, can help towards the country’s development. “That is why you have seen at this convention a number of Ugandan ministries represented, including the Speaker who is here to assure Ugandans about how democracy is being exercised back home.”