The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament (LOP), Hon Mathias Mpuuga has challenged cultural and religious leaders to speak up against human rights violations in the country.
Mpuuga started off his outreach programme on Friday, 22 October 2021 with meetings with religious leaders under the Acholi Religious Leaders’ Peace Initiative (ARLPI) and the Ker Kwaro Acoli (Acholi Cultural Institution).
“I don’t intend to be an armchair LOP; whereas we have MPs who represent the various constituencies, I want to have a touch with the people, listen to them, feel and share their challenges,” Mpuuga said.
Mpuuga spoke about the Opposition Legislative Agenda as he urged his audiences to pick interest in the various laws being proposed by the government.
“You can’t afford being neutral in the face of injustice; in a country laden with unfairness, your voice is important to speak truth to power,” the LOP told the religious leaders at ARLPI offices in Gulu City.
“Some politicians sadly believe that this country is about them and that it is their duty to initiate laws and policies, and the others have to only follow without question,” he added.
To the Acholi cultural leaders, Mpuuga reminded them that their voices are critical in the shaping the future of Uganda.
“I am here to ask you to lead your people in demanding for your share in a company called Uganda. The workers of this company have locked themselves inside, eating without reporting to the owners that formed the company,” he said.
He said that there is need to rekindle the dreams of the traditional institutions that agreed to come together at independence to form Uganda.
“If these leaders had agreed otherwise, the history of Uganda would be different,” he said.
Throughout his engagements with religious, cultural and local leaders, issues of conflicts over land came out prominently with the Prime Minister of the Ker Kwaro Acoli, Ambrose Olaa telling him to join their fight against land grabbers.
“Today, we have to contend with the threat of Balaalo pastoralists who have invaded Acholi and evicted people off their land,” Olaa said, also bringing to the fore the Apaa land conflict.
The issue was also amplified by Rev. Fr. Justin Alex Uma, the parish priest of Holy Rosary Catholic Parish Church, Gulu.
The cultural leaders as well as the Archbishop of Gulu, His Grace John Baptist Odama urged the LOP to investigate the failure of initiatives such as the Northern Uganda Rehabilitation Programme (NURP), Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) and the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP).
“We have seen so many programmes running to help Acholi recover; we have had the NUSAF, NURP and PRDP but their impact is not seen on the ground. We want you to help us to ask, what happened? Why is poverty in Acholi rising?” Olaa said.
Quoting the recent statistics that put poverty levels at 68 per cent, Archbishop Odama called for a refocusing of the government priorities and efforts against corruption.