Kampala – Lango Parliamentary Group on Friday clashed with the Ministry of Education officials on the construction of Akii Bua stadium to host AFCON 2027.This was during the presentation of the budget framework paper for the financial year FY 24/25 to the committee of Education and Sports in Parliament on Friday.
Tensions arose after the Education Permanent Secretary, Ketty Lamaro in her submission indicated that there was an unfunded priority for Afcon of 2.19 trillion UGX which was required to pay hosting fees and construct 2 stadia. Her presentation didn’t mention the names of the two stadia.
This drew criticism from the member of Parliament for Kole North, Dr Samuel Opio Acuti who was In attendance to represent Lango Parliamentary group (LPG) questioning why the Ministry of Education had not mentioned the names of the two stadia to be constructed yet they were known. He proceeded to table the official government position on AFCON that was laid on the floor of Parliament by the Minister of Education on 3rd October 2023 that affirmed that Akii Bua was one of the two stadia to host AFCON.He further showed a copy of the East Africa AFCON bid submitted to CAF that supported his claims of Akii Bua as one of the stadia for AFCON 2027. He accused the Ministry of back tracking from the government position and informed the meeting that the Akii Bua issue had turned from a hot to a volcanic issue in Lango which could erupt any time politically. He asked the committee to include the budget for construction of Akii Bua stadium in the 2024/2025 budget.
Further reactions were drawn 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 publicity for LPG informed the meeting that there was wide spread dissatisfaction in Lango over the exclusion of Akii Bua from AFCON and some of the residents had resorted to petitioning CAF.There was need for government to intervene and resolve the impasse.
Julius Achon,the MP for Otuke East (NRM) decried the failure by government to celebrate their sports heroes and questioned whether he as an Olympian for life would equally 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 by the Education Permanent Secretary , she indicated that Akii Bua stadium was a pledge and Lira didn’t have any international airport for it to qualify to host AFCON. In addition, government had earlier received funds to construct Akii Bua but was affected by Covid-19. She however stated that they had agreed as a Ministry to have funds for construction of Akii Bua included in the 2024/2025 budget.
Her claims of Lira lacking an airport and hence not being able to host AFCON did not go well with the Lango MPs. Dr Samuel Opio Acuti, tasked 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.In a similar manner, 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.
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 construction of Akii Bua stadium was not affected by Covid-19 but delay by the technical team in the Ministry to provide the technical specifications which led to loss of the Chinese grant,” she explained.
The Chair of the Education and sports committee, 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 harmonise their position on the stadia for AFCON with due consideration of the concerns of the Lango MPs.