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New leadership for civic oil coalition

Image: Irene Sekyana

Irene Sekyana, newly elected Chair of CISCO (Photo: NY)

Transparency and access to information will be the key demands and objectives of the Civil Society Coalition on Oil and Gas (CISCO) under its newly elected Chair, Irene Sekyana.

“We want to see how the coalition can be broadened out to reach grass roots people in the oil producing areas because they are vulnerable and they will be impacted most by oil and gas development”  Ms. Sekyana told Oil in Uganda.  “We want to reach these people and give them information and then see how they can use that to advocate for having their rights respected—property rights, land rights, environmental rights and social rights.”

Ms. Sekyana, who is also National Coordinator of the environmental rights NGO, Greenwatch, was elected Chair of CISCO during its Annual General Meeting earlier this month.  The coalition was founded in 2008 and has more than 20 member organisations.

“The coalition has been going through a tumultuous period,” Ms. Sekyana commented.  “There’s been a lot of internal confusion and members had lost confidence.  We are looking at confidence building and building a credible and reputable coalition.”

She will be assisted in that task by a national coordinator, the coalition’s first full-time employee, who has been taken on thanks to a grant from the Democratic Governance Facility.  The coordinator will work out of the offices of Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE), which has served as ‘host institution’ for CISCO, and was unanimously re-confirmed in that position at the Annual General Meeting.

Enock Nimpamya, who works full time with Action Coalition on Climate Change, will serve as Alternate Chair.

Outgoing Chair, Henry Bazira, who is Executive Director of the Water Governance Institute, said “After giving five years to CISCO it was time for me to step aside and it was important to have a new face.  I wish Irene all the best.”

Asked if he had any parting advice for her, Mr. Bazira said “CISCO needs to change its approach in terms of being proactive and timely, not getting delayed by bureaucracy and red tape, but to be vigilant and act when things need to be done. The Chair and Executive Committee need to be given that leverage to act according to their judgments.”

He urged CISCO not to accept the passing of the Petroleum (Exploration, Development Production) Act as definitive, but to continue lobbying for “amendment of some of those very bad clauses.”

“The fact that we are having a woman following me is a good sign,” he added.

Asked whether she saw her election as a victory for women in the male-dominated oil industry, however, Ms. Sekyana responded “I wouldn’t look at it that way.”

Report by NY