By Samuel Oduny
When we talk of the National Resistance Movement in northern Uganda, the picture of Mrs. Betty Bigombe comes in our minds and reminds us of the great work she did to urge the people of the region to support the party NRM.
The greater percentage of the people in the north had served in the former Uganda National Liberation Army. When the National Resistance Movement entered the north, it was very difficult for the natives to support the regime but instead they opted to wage war against the NRM Government. The greater area was the Acholi sub-region which was a battle ground.
By good luck in 1988, President Museveni appointed a daughter of the region to be the Minister in charge of northern Uganda. This was Betty Bigombe who was given the task to pacify the region and to see that the war came to an end.
With full commitment Betty Bigombe worked tirelessly with honesty to see that the region became peaceful and the NRM party was supported by the people of the region.
The people of northern Uganda will not forget the great work done by Betty Bigombe to pacify the area and to make sure her natives did not suffer.
Good ideas came from Betty Bigombe that she should have an approach to talk to the head of the fighting force Joseph Kony.
With the help of some people, she managed to meet the Leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army Joseph Kony in 1994 at Pagik in Cwero, Paicho sub-county, Aswa county.
The two had a lot of discussion together as to how the war in the north could come to an end. Although the talks did not enable Joseph Kony to denounce rebellion, many abductees voluntarily gave up and until now they are/have reintegrated into their different communities.
Bigombe’s work has greatly contributed to efforts to see that the NRM gains popularity in the north.
Her pursuit for a fruitful peace talk with Kony to relinquish his rebel activities gave way for bigger talks between the rebels and the Ugandan government in Sudan.
The peace talks, which was in Juba by many Government leaders and elders of the region, Bigombe was one of the most active ones. Currently, she is frequenting the Central African Republic to see that she meets Joseph Kony face to face for a final solution for the release of all the children still in captivity.
It is now going to be very historical in northern Uganda for a lady to be a minister who pacified the area which was ravaged with insurgencies.
It is for her brevity and honesty that Bigombe managed to meet the LRA rebel group that was fighting the National Resistance Movement.
After election of 1996, the people of Gulu Municipality did not vote for Bigombe but instead voted for Norbert Mao as a Member of Parliament. It is when she lost that she opted to join the World Bank, after one year at Harvard University for her master’s degree.
She, however, still visited Sudan to meet the Lord’s Resistance Forces during her work period at the World Bank.
In the election of 2011, the Amuru people asked Bigombe to come and be elected a Woman Member of Parliament. She was victoriously elected and eventually Bigombe was appointed State Minister for Water.
The appointment of Bigombe is not a new thing. In other words she is not a visitor in the World Bank. With the love she has in Uganda her appointment will assist the country a lot. The challenge is Betty Bigombe is widely respected in the region and her departure will leave a wide vacuum of leadership in the region.
The writer is a resident in Gulu.