President Yoweri Museveni in company of his wife Mama Janet Kataha on Monday paid tribute to fallen Dokolo district woman MP Cecilia Ogwal.
Ogwal, 77, has been one of the longest serving legislators having joined the legislature in 1996.
Eulogizing Mama Cecilia, battle-hardened Gen. Museveni expressed sadness for having not fully worked together with Hon. Ogwal because of what he baptized as “politics of fragmentation”.
“We couldn’t work together fully although we had similar qualities. I have not worked optimally with Cecilia Ogwal, but I can tell you when I eventually met her I could see that she is a patriot” Gen. Museveni said.
WHAT YOU DIDN’T KNOW
Inspectors revealed that indeed Museveni had a point in missing to practically work with Cecilia. It was revealed in 1996 the time she joined parliament, the head of state wanted to appoint Cecilia as the pioneer female Vice President of Uganda as he tried to prove to the Langis and UPC that he was indeed ready to work with everyone.
Cecilia however, allegedly turned down the offer and yet Museveni was determined to give this position to an opposition lady at the time.
When she rejected the offer, this is how focus turned to Dr. Specioza Naigaga Wandera Kazibwe who was said to be a DP sympathiser. She served until 2003 when she was replaced by another hitherto DP sympathiser Gilbert Bukenya.
Inspectors said Museveni kept benching Cecilia hoping that maybe one day, she could change her heart and accept to directly work in his government, the reason he; in 2011 hurriedly created Dokolo district after Cecilia had lost her parliamentary seat in Lira.
The head of state ensured that Cecilia kept around parliament treating her as his real sister and or, brother. This is how she managed to return making her the pioneer woman MP of that district until she died while still serving in the same position.
SPECIAL ROLES IN PARLIAMENT
Inspectors revealed that even as she chose to remain in opposition, Cecilia left lines of communication with Museveni very open. We’re informed that if there’s any time Museveni faced a tough challenge in parliament, then it was the time Mama Rebecca Kadaga lost her Speakership position to late Jacob Oulanyah.
So intense the battle between Kadaga and Oulanyah was, that the former speaker never attended sittings chaired by her ouster for the one year he presided over parliament, only to return later to mourn him.
However, the aftermath of her job loss wasn’t easy for the head of state!
Inspectors said Museveni reached out to all his circles trying to get someone who could easily explain to Mama Kadaga to accept her fate and let life continue but whoever he approached, allegedly feared to face the hitherto bitter lady from Kamuli.
And yet, intelligence suggested that Kadaga who had come under intense pressure during the speakership campaigns was not doing well medically. This created fear that her life would worsen and blame was to be put on Gen. Museveni for having not helped her.
At this moment, the president had proposed a number of positions for Kadaga to serve in cabinet but she wasn’t willing to listen to any of the suggestions at the time, causing Museveni to delay announcement of his 6th term cabinet!
Inspectors said, Museveni finally reached out to his sister Cecilia and explained his predicament. Remember, Mama Cecilia was a Langi just like Kadaga’s ‘nemesis’ Oulanyah who had scooped the hotly contested race. This therefore, meant Cecilia was undertaking an assignment which likely put her in a tricky situation with her tribes mate(s) back in Lango.
And yet, Museveni got Intel that the only person capable of talking to Mama Kadaga was Cecilia.
“The president asked Cecilia to mediate because everyone had failed to convince Kadaga to accept the result. Kadaga had resigned to fate and viewed Museveni as having directly fought her. She was even contemplating resigning from her MP seat and go back to her village” explained an inspector.
When Museveni heard all this plus the hitherto ‘not so well’ Kadaga’s health condition at the time, he asked Mama Cecilia to help.
The lady from Lango immediately embarked on the mission and visited Mama Kadaga and sat her down in a candid discussion.
So determined to save Mama Kadaga he was, that Museveni even asked Cecilia that even if it meant for her to go and stay with Kadaga at her home village in Kamuli (if it was Kadaga’s choice), he was ready to support her for as long as it takes and also protect her from parliamentary legal reprimand to any member who missed 15 consecutive sittings.
“Mama Kadaga had reached a point where she didn’t want to stay with anyone. She wanted to stay alone in the house. That put her life at big risk. She didn’t trust anyone and she had started refusing to pick calls. Museveni deployed his sister Cecilia to talk to her and that’s how she finally accepted to work again” explained an inspector.
We are told Cecilia up to the time of her demise, kept playing this special role between the two principals whenever anything happened. It is actually, stated that at first Museveni wanted to appoint Amama Mbabazi as PM but Kadaga through Cecilia informed Mzee that she wouldn’t feel comfortable working under Amama with whom they already had running battles. And yet, she didn’t want to be the PM herself. Three names including Amelia Kyambadde, Ruth Nankabirwa and Robinah Nabbanja were allegedly presented to her to choose a person she could work with and she zeroed on Robinah Nabbanja with whom they had worked in the Parliamentary Commission earlier on before being appointed state minister for health.
She asked for a less demanding position and that’s how she finally returned to cabinet as minister for EAC and First deputy premier.
Inspectors said besides this Kadaga role, Cecilia was also doing a great job among legislators across the political divide. Many struggling MPs were confiding in her on especially their health status. Those who needed government intervention and or counselling, they reached out to her in confidence and she would do the necessary connections in addition to those struggling in their marriages.
We’re told of how two vocal politicians from the north nearly died because of a strange ailment. The politicians whom Museveni secretly helped kept telling people that they were bewitched by their opponents.
However, Cecilia sat the two politicians down and told them to stop living in denial but instead start taking drugs. This is how the politicians were taken abroad and are now alive and kicking.
BETTY AOL OCHAN A POSSIBLE SENIOR WOMAN?
She’s the woman MP for Gulu and former Leader of Opposition serving under (now troubled) FDC just like Cecilia was.
Inspectors said the demise of Senior Woman Cecilia has left a lot of questions among legislators on who else they can treat as Senior Woman in parliament. One such names that are being looked at is that of Betty Aol Ochan, the woman MP Gulu. She’s seen as non-divisive, politically less combative and mature in age to play that role. Although she’s opposition, Inspectors said during her stay as LoP, government didn’t face lots of hardships in transacting it’s business on the floor as she always favored compromise for the good of the nation.
Indeed, that’s why Museveni government has reciprocated by extending among others, enough power to her area to possibly to boost her political ratings locally and keep her seat in parliament. Apparently, businesses in Gulu were closing regularly due to power outages and the businessmen in the area were relocating to Lira where power supply was very stable.
However, Museveni through Electricity Regulatory Authority has since set up a permanent Power Station in Gulu with backup plants at Aswa, Kole, Karuma among others leaving hon. Aol and her people especially businessmen very excited with Gen. Museveni’s NRM government.
MUSEVENI PRAISES CECILIA
Museveni while paying tribute to the late Cecilia told MPs to always work together whenever there’s an opportunity especially on matters of national importance referring them to Cecilia’s legacy.
“Take this as a lesson, don’t miss opportunities to work together if there is an opportunity because now some of you are regretting why you didn’t work with her (Cecilia)” he advised.
Other special roles Cecilia played for Museveni included stopping LRA. Apparently, Museveni met Cecilia in the North while fighting Kony.
Here, Kony’s deputy ‘Maj.Gen.’ Vincent Otti rang Cecilia threatening to send her to her creator if she didn’t support the LRA rebels and reject Museveni’s NRM but the Iron Lady as she was fondly referred to, stood her ground and rejected the war.
“She will be remembered for her patriotism by refusing to succumb to the pressure of joining Vincent Otti and other rebels in their fight against us.” Museveni said adding that the second time he saw Cecilia playing an independent and positive role was when she told people to not to follow UPC’s rhetoric telling people to boycott any of Museveni’s political activities (elections).
The third one according to Museveni was when Cecilia was elected to the Pan-African Parliament.
“If you went there to the African Parliament in South Africa, you wouldn’t know that she was not NRM. Outside there, she was a big defender of Uganda; she was very patriotic.” the president noted adding that Cecilia was a good leader whose contribution was suppressed by the bad atmosphere created by the politics of hatred.
“I want to thank all the leaders who are isolating that politics of hatred. Cecilia Ogwal was very much in that process of rejecting that politics of hatred. Akena, Betty Amongi of UPC, Mao of DP have rejected that. Those who are still in the politics of hatred are very few and we know them. You can imagine they even tried to sabotage this NAM,” President Museveni said in what seemed to be a reference to Robert Kyagulanyi, Kizza Besigye and Erias Lukwago whose homes were sealed off as they tried to protest during the important Non-Alligned Movement meeting and G-77+China hosted by Museveni.