- November 2, 2021
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You have made my office irrelevant- minister Hilary Onek threatens to resign Over bitter war with Nabbanja
The Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Hilary Onek, has threatened to resign over the conduct of the new Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja.
“Hon Prime Minister, if you have decided to carry on working like this and rendering my docket irrelevant, kindly put it in writing to H.E the President who is the appointing authority and I will relieve myself of the responsibilities and allow you carry on with your duties,” said Hilary Onek in a letter to Nabbanja on October 29.
The conflict between Onek and Nabbanja started when the Prime Minister diverted Shs5 billion from the Shs15 billion allocated to the Ministry of Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees.
The money was part of a contingency budget to support areas affected by disasters.
The matter was brought to Parliament where MPs wondered why the Premier diverted the funds and yet it is the Ministry for Disaster Preparedness that is charged with responding to disaster issues.
Nabbanja explained that she needed the Shs5 billion because she had plans to manage other disaster-related issues
But the conflict appears to have escalated with Onek officially writing to Nabbanja to express his disappointment.
“From the time of your appointment, I have been observing with total displeasure the fact that my role and that of my deputy as the Ministers in charge of refugees and disaster and the lead policymakers on matters of refugee and disaster management have been totally usurped by your office,” said Onek.
The Minister says Nabbanja calls for meetings and visits disaster areas without informing him.
He gave the example of the October 29 meeting during which Nabbanja met with the local leadership of Bududa without involving the line ministry “which may lead to decisions being made that contradict earlier and official cabinet positions.”
Onek said Nabbanja also purged the department of disaster management and took over the distribution of relief items and caused interdiction of staff without proper investigation.
The 9 OPM staff were interdicted on accusations of procuring substandard relief items for the flood victims in Kasese District following an investigation by the head of State House Anti-Corruption Unit, Col Edith Nakalema.
Onek now says the staff were accused of causing financial loss without conducting a forensic audit by involving the office of the Auditor-General.
On October 5, Nabbanja wrote to Onek halting the settlement of refugees in Kyangwali over land ownership dispute, which he says was arrived at without involving the line ministry officials.
Onek warned Nabbanja that “undercutting the Ministry of Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees and directly working with local government officials will lead to further contradictions and confusion.”
The Minister reminded Nabbanja that he worked under three Prime Ministers – Apollo Nsibambi, Amama Mbabazi and Ruhakana Rugunda – who executed their mandate of coordinating legislative agenda, leading government business in Parliament and monitoring ministry programs.