Kampala, Uganda | GODFREY SSALI | Uganda’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, Amb. Nelson Ocheger, has appealed for the support of Parliament to provide funds for the construction of the country’s permanent High Commission in Abuja.
Ocheger, who on Wednesday met Opposition MPs at the rented High Commission Building located on Mandara Close, off Mambilla Street in Abuja, said that the government of Nigeria had given land to Uganda for the construction of its mission and the High Commissioner’s residence.
The land allocated for the High Commission is located in Central Area, Diplomatic Drive in Abuja, while the High Commissioner’s Residence, which has since been built, is located in Maitama, Abuja. The land was given to Uganda in 1991.
“When the issue of the High Commission in Nigeria comes up, please support us; we want to develop that land such that we stop spending money on this rented building,” Ocheger said.
He added that Nigeria has handed over the title to the land to Kampala.
The Opposition MPs included Hon. Santa Alum (UPC, Oyam district); Hon. Angeline Osegge (FDC); Hon. Fred Tumuheirwe (FDC, Rujumbura) and Hon. Silas Aogon (Ind., Kumi Munic.). The MPs are in Abuja, Nigeria for a benchmarking workshop on strengthening the capacities of the Opposition in the Parliament of Uganda. The workshop is being held at the National Institute for Legislative Studies, Abuja.
Amb. Ocheger said that when the initial designs were done, it was estimated that the construction of the High Commission Building would cost about US$ 43 million, which has since gone up. Of this, government has provided only about UShs 250 million in the 2017/2018 financial year.
Ocheger also said that there was need to scale up efforts in trade, tourism and investment between the two countries for the benefit of the people. He said that there was a high potential to increase trade from only US$ 6 million imports and US$5 million exports between Uganda and Nigeria.
He said that Uganda enjoys cordial relationship with Nigeria and that the administration of the Nigeria National Assembly had scheduled a trip for October to learn from the operations of the Parliamentary Commission.
The MPs agreed with the High Commissioner’s position and promised to support the cause during the next cycle of budgeting.
“It has been our position and recommendation as Parliament, for Uganda to own its property and stop renting. You have our backing; we shall provide the necessary funds while appropriating funds,” said Hon. Santa Alum.
Hon. Tumuheirwe was grateful that the government of Nigeria gave land to Uganda and even transferred the land title to Uganda.
Hon. Aogon said there may be need for a formal motion in the House to push government to phase the construction of Uganda’s missions in foreign countries considering that all of them cannot be built in one financial year.
The Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee, Hon. Angelline Osegge, appealed to the High Commission to project the country’s great potential in tourism.
The Uganda High Commission in Abuja has six diplomatic staff, who also cover 15 other countries including Benin, Ghana, Guinea, The Gambia, Liberia, Senegal, Mali Togo and others.