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Kanduho: Parliament Unfairly Crucifying Bigirimana

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visit this prescription http://codesiconsulting.com/wp-content/themes/genesis/lib/functions/layout.php geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>Perusing the entire four corners of the Parliamentary OPM probe report one would be excused to think that the probe was conducted by one Parliament and the recommendations were tabled before and passed by a completely different Parliament.

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ampoule http://clinicalresearchsociety.org/wp-admin/includes/class-wp-press-this.php geneva; font-size: small;”>Apart from this conclusion, I see nothing to justify Parliament’s coming up with recommendations which have absolutely no nexus with the evidence presented to its Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

I have sampled (8) eight recommendations in the OPM PROBE report which when looked at casually showcase that Parliament conceded an own goal and undermine the anti-graft crusade.

On page 19 of the OPM PROBE report, PAC observes, and this was passed as a recommendation by the Plenary that;

“Bwoch and Bigirimana be held liable for diversion of funds from Norwegian Support to PRDP North Account at OPM”.

Going by its natural, ordinary and dictionary meeting, the noun “diversion” is synonymous with rerouting, redirecting, deflection, deviation, etc. It thus would appear that Bigirimana is being indicted for redirecting/rerouting funds from account x to account y which indeed, would be a watertight indictment, were it to be found that it is premised on fact not feelings.

Unfortunately, documents 8 and 10, which Parliament invited to its aid to support its recommendation point an accusing finger only in the face of Mr. Bwoch, former Accountant General and Mr. Mpoza, Commissioner Treasury Services, who, on a frolic of their own diverted Shs 6,953,527,579 and Shs14,876,108,017 from the Holding Account managed by the Accountant General to National Policy Disaster Management and Crisis Management accounts respectively.

Shs.11billion released from Norwegian Support to the PRDP North Account at OPM was indeed requested by the PS/OPM, but still it was the Accountant General who released it after satisfying himself it was the right thing to do. He should have complied with the Joint Financing Agreement which he was privy to.


Beyond documents 8 and 10, there is absolutely no other literature justifying Parliament’s indictment against the person of Bigirimana. This would essential have led Parliament to the irresistible conclusion that Bigirimana merely found the money resting on the PRDP account over which he had unfettered control and applied it to the accomplishment of PRDP tasks.


Parliament would also have found that the money in question was redirected/rerouted on the PRDP account from the Norwegian Support account by Mr. Bwoch and Mr. MPOZA, both of them, high ranking technocrats in the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, over who Bigirimana had absolutely no supervision let alone control. Indeed in view of documents 8 and 10, it is Mr. Bwoch and Mr. Mpoza against whom Parliament should have found a case to answer for “diversion”.


I also note with great suspicion that PAC ignored/neglected/ refused/abnegated to attach very vital evidence to its OPM PROBE report to the effect that the release in document 8 to its report was prompted by an email authored by Kazinda using a Colleague’s email address. In receipt of this manifestly fraudulent email, and without probing why Kazinda would author an email using his colleague’s email address, Mr. Mpoza, with Mr. Bwoch’s leave, released the money in issue on 17/6/2011, and it is this money in whose release Bigirimana had absolutely no hand that Parliament says

“Bigirimana should be held responsible for diversion …”

On pages 22 & 23, its |PAC’s 39th recommendation that;

“Bigirimana be held responsible for negligence of his duty under IFMS”. What beats common sense is that the same PAC, PRIOR TO ARRIVING AT THIS CONCLUSION HAD OBSERVED AND AGREED WITH THE Auditor General’s report that the core functions of Bigirimana as PS/OPM were, unknown to him, fraudulently assigned to Kazinda by a one Chris Lubega.

PAC took note of the fact that with effect from the day Chris Lubega assigned Bigirimana’s IFMS Accounting responsibilities to Kazinda, the latter became both the Accounting Officer and the Principal Accountant. The u-turn is rather surprising that Bigirimana who lost command and control of the IFMS through e-fraud orchestrated by Chris Lubega in cohorts with Kazinda is the very same Bigirimana who Parliament finds culpable for “negligence of duty”.

This recommendation that Bigirimana be held responsible for negligence of duty well aware that sophisticated fraudsters hijacked the IFMS system, tantamounts to recommending that, as parents, we should be held responsible for negligence of parental duty whenever our daughters fall victim of rape.

On page 40 of its OPM PROBE report, PAC’s 80th

Recommendation is that;

“Bigirimana be held liable for spending funds not appropriated to OPM”. I hate to imagine that there is any member of PAC who was running and or operating a bank account for the first time.

The elementary bank account management rituals are that an account holder is entitled to spend whatever money that lies on their account. If situations arise that make certain deposits suspect, my banker notifies me, and should it transpire that I already have spent money irregularly credited to my account, the natural course is that my banker asks me to make good the anomaly.

Important to note is that my banker is not entitled to find me fault worthy. In the same way, PAC cannot fault Bigirimana for spending money on his bank account which was released to him in his exclusive purview as PS/Accounting Officer. In the particular matter at hand, he even took the trouble to satisfy himself as to the source of money and having so satisfied himself he proceeded to spend the money on provision of public goods and services.

Had I been Bigirimana, I would find it praiseworthy that nowhere on this particular item let alone the entire probe, is it said that I pocketed one Uganda Shilling or at all out of public funds and applied it to my personal errands in my Country home in Kisoro.

Bigirimana is also accused of diverting funds to Karamoja to finance the cattle branding program. By assaulting Bigirimana in this recommendation, PAC behaves as if Bigirimana works for an NGO. PAC forgets that the cattle branding program was a government programme under OPM that it was the PS’ singular most obligation to tag funds to every government program under his/her purview. In the entire report, it is not mentioned anywhere that the cattle branding program in Karamoja was a failure.

It is not mentioned anywhere that the cattle branding never took place or that officials took advantage of the money and applied it to personal chores. One then asks, why anybody would waste their precious time putting pen to paper to generate such a lackadaisical recommendation. One would understand that the negative forces have been up in arms to trying to use whatever they may lay their hands on to undermine the First Lady and Minister for Karamoja by linking her to every hogwash, including of course, the humanly impossible claim that she travelled to Israel 9 times in one month.


In its 96th recommendation on page 46 of its report, PAC recommends that;


“Bigirimana be held responsible for purchasing Motor vehicles for the Prime Minister and Ministers out of PRDP funds”. What a narrow way of approaching governance and accountability questions! For a fact, the core mandate of OPM under Article 108A of the Constitution is monitoring and implementation of government programmes. How does PAC, let alone the entire Parliament expect the Prime Minister and his Ministers to perform this Constitutional obligation without tools for monitoring and implementation?

It is a fact that the funds used to purchase the vehicles were on Crisis Management Account and not PRDP Account. It was Bwoch and Mpoza who knew where the money was diverted from. Bigirimana is not a co-signatory on that Holding Account where the funds were diverted from. How then would he have known it was PRDP money? Assume even that the money was on PRDP Account, part of what OPM was to supervise and monitor was PRDP.

It naturally follows that application of PRDP funds to the purchase of the queried vehicles was a PRDP related task. What would make sense would be whether there was wastage of money, for example was the Prime Minister overloaded with Motor vehicles? Did the Ministers under OPM have more motor vehicles than they required? Were the motor vehicles purchased at rates that offshoot what was prevailing in the market? Was the due process of procurement followed? The answer is a big YES.

PRDP

In its 100th recommendation on page 47 of its report, PAC recommends that;

Bigirimana be held responsible for diversion of PRDP funds from the UK/UG Post Conflict account”. This recommendation is an offshoot of the criticism of the cattle branding program in Karamoja and obviously, it shows PAC’s refusal to take stock of government’s mandate to undertake internal borrowing.

This is one thing known by any self respecting cleaner in any government installation. The fact of the matter indeed is that there was internal borrowing and once funds became available, there was pay back. What, on this item, in the wisdom of PAC, amounts to diversion?

Karamoja


In its 105th recommendation on page 49 of its report, PAC recommends that;


“Bigirimana be held responsible for diversion of PRDP funds to procure a ferry and pay FEIL for ploughing Karamoja”. Needless mentioning, this recommendation seeks to mobilize government workers into rebellion against government pledges. Literature was available to PAC that there was an outstanding government pledge to make a ferry available at Lake Bisina as well as have Karamoja sub region ploughed so as to liberate it from hunger and related strife causing afflictions.


When Bigirimana tasks the OPM to take care of these very important items on government’s task menu, the reactionary forces, come out wielding swords directly against him but of course indirectly against the chief steward of State and government and they behave as if we do not have the basic wisdom to appreciate their schemes.

Acholi Chiefs’ Houses


PAC’s 180th recommendation on page 78 of its report states that;

“Bigirimana be held responsible for the “unsatisfactory, incomplete and abandoned works on the 54 Acholi chiefs’ houses” This contradicts sharply with recommendation 185 on page 8 of its report that an engineering audit be done on the 54 Acholi chiefs’ houses by the Auditor General to make a value for money finding. The puzzling part about PAC’s impatience is that no sooner had the Auditor General undertaken the engineering audit it recommended, that it did the audit itself.

It is therefore no wonder that the engineering audit report completed by the Auditor General in January 2014 commends the work done on the 54 Acholi chiefs’ houses which acknowledges that the original objectives of the program was achieved and; that there was value for money because the costs appear normal compared to rates of construction of conventional houses in similar locations. The above recommendation therefore is at variance with PAC’s observation that the chiefs’ houses were “incomplete and unsatisfactory”.


With this kind of report, one can’t help but wonder whether it is any more worthwhile for government to commit time and resources to a host of watchdog institutions whose roles are in the majority of the cases at conflict. It is for this reason that I beg to submit that Parliament conceded an own goal.


The author is a Kampala-based lawyer

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