Kampala, Uganda — The Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah has tasked leaders from Northern Uganda to consider working in unison to redeem the region, saying it ranks poorest in the country.
Oulanyah said the Northern region has received numerous ‘helping hands’ from government and development partners, but that the disunity among leaders has kept the region in poverty.
“The biggest problem we have as Acholi people is never to accept leaders. I can almost hear the same conversation we had in Kitgum. We were in Kitgum and people were saying, ‘is it this teacher who has now the bishop?’, ” Oulanyah said.
Making reference to the Gulu Diocese Archbishop, John Baptist Odama, Oulanyah said the region is gifted with potential leaders but lacks the collaboration that would cause transformation.
“We have strong leaders, key among is Archbishop Odama who has tried a transformation approach through cassava. The President talks about his project all the time; if we could just support what he is doing or pick something, we would move together as a region,” he said.
Oulanyah made these remarks at the consecration and enthronement of the Eighth Bishop of Northern Uganda Diocese, Rev. Godfrey Loum in Gulu City, on Saturday, 21 November 2021. The ceremony was presided over by the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Most Rev. Stephen Samuel Kaziimba Mugalu.
Oulanyah urged MPs under the Acholi Parliamentary Group and all elected leaders from the North to support the new bishop, cognizant of the fact that, the church has been pivotal in the post war recovery programmes.
“By the powers entrusted to me as the Speaker of Parliament, I declare this place as the precincts of Parliament for one purpose that all the elected leaders of Acholi, those present here to declare without reservation support for the new Bishop,” Oulanyah said.
His plea was in lieu of the call of the Chief Justice, Alphonse Owiny-Dollo who spoke against the fights amongst the church leaders that he had to ‘sort out’ before a new bishop could be enthroned.
“We held four meetings; they were arbitrary. There is an outcry in this house but the will is there to give you an opportunity to lead one house not a divided one” Owiny-Dollo said.
Archbishop Kazimba was equally concerned about transitional wrangles not only in Gulu but in other dioceses and guided that such conflicts should be handled out of courts of law.
He cited the scenario in Kumi Diocese where a one Rev. Charles Okunya dragged the House of Bishops to court when his election as the Bishop was nullified. Okunya’s election was nullified on discovery that he had falsified his age.
“Matters of the church should not be solved in court; settle your issues out of court. We pray for Kumi where acts of hooliganism prevail,” Kazimba said.
Speaker Oulanyah contributed Shs50 million towards the consecration, Deputy Speaker, Shs20 million and MPs from the region Shs78 million.
Oulanyah also pledged Shs30 million to the ‘Bishop’s Starter Fund’ which is meant for the new Bishop’s welfare.
Bishop Loum thanked Parliament and pledged to augment its representation role by addressing issues of gender based violence, post war trauma, domestic violence and poverty alleviation.