Gulu Municipal Council today put the town clerk under fire, during a full council meeting at the council yard, to rectify a number of issues in which he holds key decision and administrative responsibilities.
Francis Barabanawe was given a directive by the Municipal Council speaker, Peter Okwera Onen, to have issues in the office of the Chief Finance Officer, CFO sorted and a report given to council to avoid unnecessary presumed litigations in future.
Gulu Municipal has for about four years had two Chief Finance Officers working in the same office and position though one is being considered as acting in his colleague’s position.
According to inside sources, Edward Ojok, the principal Finance Officer was interdicted about four years ago and later returned to office after 6 months. He was interdicted for drunkenness and failure to behave in a manner befitting his position despite his qualification.
The source also reveals that the Acting CFO, George Nicholas Kidega is not qualified to hold the position forcing the Division to retain Ojok to sign Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) Project documents as the CFO because he is qualified for the job.
The matter caused uproar in the full council meeting this afternoon when members urged that Ojok was kept in the office because of his qualification to help sign money for the multibillion World Bank funded USMID project.
Fourteen municipalities are benefitting from the USMID project, geographically spread across the country and include: Arua, Gulu, Lira (Northern Uganda); Soroti, Moroto, Mbale, Tororo, Jinja (Eastern Uganda); Entebbe, Masaka (Central); Mbarara, Kabale, Fort Portal and Hoima (Western Uganda).
The town clerk said last week that USMID extended its project of infrastructure development in Gulu municipality for the next five years. More than 13 roads have been constructed within the municipality under the USMID fund since 2013.
Speaker Okwera directed that the town clerk handles the issue administratively and only gives council a feedback because the issue is long overdue.
“No town Clerk. Handle this issue administratively. We cannot let you discuss this with council right now.” He interjected as the town clerk rose to speak on the matter.
Kelly Komakech, Pece Division LCIII chairperson noted that the issue of the CFO has become political because there are vested interests in the formerly interdicted CFO as a qualified finance officer. His colleague in the acting capacity allegedly does not have.
A qualified CFO holds MBA or CPA certificates among other working experiences in a related field of finance.
Komakech wonders why the town clerk continues to maintain an officer without giving him full powers to run activities in the office.
“His junior is the one in office. It is very unfair to keep him in office when his junior is the one acting in his position.”
The Local Government’s Financial and Accounting Regulations, 2007 indicate that the Chief Finance Officer is the head of Finance.
“The head of finance shall be responsible to the chief executive for all financial transactions and accounts of the council, and shall be the receiver, paymaster and chief accountant of the council and his or her duties shall among others, be—to manage the financial affairs of the council prudently, efficiently and effectively…”