President also commissioned multi-billion shilling road works for the construction of the 100km Rwekunyu-Apac-Lira-Puranga road.
LIRA - President Yoweri Museveni has called on the clergy and Christians in general, to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ and emulate dimensions of his mission of hard-work, preaching the gospel, feeding the hungry, and healing the sick as a way of helping humanity.
The President was on Wednesday speaking at a scientific ceremony to mark the golden jubilee of evangelisation and commissioning the newly renovated Lira Martyrs Cathedral, Lira Diocese in Lira district.
The cathedral was refurbished and expanded by Gotino Construction Specialist Limited, following the President's initial contribution of sh400m.
"I want to congratulate the Christians of this diocese for the anniversary of the 50 years. I was talking to the former bishop and he told me how he arrived here in 1971 and has been here since. He must have seen the turbulent times we went through.
The people of Uganda should be thankful to God that after 50 years of this diocese, we are now living in peace and seeing development and freedom of worship. All these things were under challenge.
I congratulate the Christians on the 50 years of the diocese and congratulate and thank you for building the house of God. If you had not taken the initiative, we who are from far would not have made a contribution," he said.
Museveni hailed the Gulu Archbishop, John Baptist Odama, for walking in the footsteps of Jesus by empowering the Christians.
"I am also some form of a Christian, I was President of the scripture union. I am sure I would have been a bishop if God had not given me other assignments.
"In the 1960s, the Church of Uganda had some Christians called Abazukufu, (the ones who had to awaken). Their line was, look here, we the Christians are passengers through the world, we do not have to waste our time here, gifts are in heaven. Here we do not have to sweat because... look at the birds in the air, they neither sow nor harvest, but God feeds them. This is very dangerous," Museveni added.
"My father went away when he was 96 years old. And for somebody to be a visitor for 96 years and not work and just sit there is not a good idea," he said.
The President said the parable of the talents says the master was not happy with those who did not use talent.
"How can you sit on your talent and say you are in the path of Christ? When I remember what Jesus did when young, he worked in the carpentry of Joseph, then preached the gospel, fed the hungry and healed the sick," he said.
The President contributed six tractors to the Diocese of Lango for ploughing and said if the Church is using them well, the Government would enhance the farm machinery so that Christians can hire them and it becomes an income of the diocese but also build agriculture for the population and the country.
Museveni pledged a contribution of sh300m towards the Bishops House and sh100m to the cathedral car park.
President on COVID-19
He also congratulated the Christians and the people of Uganda on helping in the fight against the coronavirus. "Ugandans have done Africa proud.
People anticipated that the virus would kill us because of the bad hospitals and so on. The way you are seating and wearing masks is commendable," he said.
The diocese heads
Archbishop Odama thanked the President for his contribution towards the expansion and renovation of the cathedral.
The host, Bishop Santos Lino Wanok, was grateful for the President's support towards the development of the area and making a memorial visit to Lira Diocese to celebrate with them.
Bishop Emeritus Joseph Franzeli commended the President for his dignity to work for all Ugandans, especially the poor families.
The ceremony was attended by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, Cabinet ministers, area MPs and other religious leaders.
Road project launched
In a related development, while in Lira, the President also commissioned multi-billion shilling road works for the construction of the 100km Rwekunyu-Apac-Lira-Puranga road with an original contract price of sh337.5b and a 36-month projection duration.
Speaking during the ceremony at Anai Primary School on the outskirts of Lira city, the President said in planning for development, the Government considers priorities.
"The Government had to start with the construction of the road from Tororo, Soroti, Kamudini, Pakwach up to Arua to soften the workload on the triangle road network in the region.
The road from Tororo to Kamudini is also going to be reconstructed," the President said. He said the Government has invested a lot in infrastructure development and there are a lot more roads to be constructed to transform the country.
UNRA on roads upgrade
The executive director of Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) Allen Kagina, said the upgrading of Rwenkunye-ApacLira-Puranga road (191km) to paved standard will increase the connectivity in the region and ensure a stable, all-weather connection with the rest of the country.
The Government is implementing the project with funding from the Islamic Development Bank to upgrade the 191km-road to paved (Bitumen) standard.