MOYO, UGANDA: The Government of Uganda has without misgivings abandoned and deserted the plight of the Madi on the extended Apaa conflict which has dragged on for over 10 years with no crucial resolve in sight, Moyo West MP Hon Azza Tom has said.
“Government is ignoring the laud and genuine complaints of Madi and discriminating us against our neighbours in Acholi subregion, turning a blind eye to our predicament on the pervasive Apaa contest when we have endeavoured to end the conflict on terms favourable to both parties including government,” MP Tom Azza lashed.
Leaders in the Madi sub-region on Saturday, July 22, 2023, drew high-pitched responses during a meeting that was convened by Chairman WENDA (West Nile Development Association) Mr Anyama William who doubles as district chairman Moyo to among others review the status of Apaa conflict and the formalization of Madi cultural Institution (Lopirigo of Madi) that was held in Adjumani district council hall.
The high-profile meeting was attended by RDCs, districts chairpersons and CAOs, CDOs and clerks to councils from the Madi districts of Adjumani, Moyo and Obongi, Other categories include cultural and religious leaders, elders and leaders of MACDEF (Madi Cultural Development Foundation).
The Moyo West County legislator Azza said since 2011, the Adjumani woman MP Ababiku Jesca, former Obongi county MP Hassan Fungaroo and myself have brought the issue on the floor of parliament to inform of petition and matters of national importance and further raised it directly to the president but the matter was never given a deserved attention”.
“Today I want to resolutely declare that government has no political goodwill for the Madi people, I will mention this without fear of intimidation because am now 61 years old and a seasoned NRM mobilizer who has been elected to serve the voice of the Madi people to relevant government organs”.MP Azza sorrowed.
Equally dismayed Adjumani district chairman Mr Anyama Ben said what is difficult to understand is that the president could not put all his statements in a blueprint or white paper including the heart-sinking Kaunda declaration which has made it impossible to offer explanations to their constituencies.
Mr Anyama suggested that the leaders should seek another audience with the president to ascertain why he has always reversed decisions reached by government organs or institutions assigned to handle the matter of Apaa aside from the pending Judicial Commission of Inquiry whose report cannot benefit the Madi people for obvious reasons.
The Adjumani RDC Taban Data Peter said his experience of the struggle to resolve the Apaa conflict is vindictive because on four occasions’ leaders in Amuru and Adjumani came close to solving the Apaa deadlock when they agreed to closing the market which was the centre of attraction in the area but the efforts were overturned in the eleventh hour when UPDF command in 4th Division Gulu said the CDF (Chief of Defense Force) did not receive orders from the commander in chief.
The February 2023 Kaunda declaration in Gulu city has dented the hope of leaders in Madi and for whatever reasons the president opted for a Judicial Commission of Inquiry whose outcome is predictable because the Judiciary is headed by Acholi kinsmen the Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny Dolo and the minister of Justice and Constitutional affairs Mr Nobert Mao who are an interested party in Apaa conflict.
Mr. Dravuga an Elder from Moyo district wondered why leaders are wasting time meeting the president again when he has demonstrated his will not to end Apaa conflict on propitious standings to Madi people and advised the Madi people to seek alternative resolve since it is not in contention that Apaa is in Adjumani district and the land belongs to the Madi community.
Leaders observed that their counterparts in the Acholi sub-region have drawn a one-sided master plan for three outlets to the Apaa solution; cause a referendum aware of their numerical strength, degazette the area for human settlement or maintain the status quo.
The ill-famed Apaa conflict has been approached using several strategic campaigns but final decisions were all reversed by the president for whatever reasons and the latest being the unfortunate February 2023, ground Kaunda declaration when prime minister Nabanja Robina based on the 2021 cabinet resolution issued an ultimatum of 3 months for Apaa settlers to vacate, beginning February 12th 2023.
In 2019, the result of the parliamentary select committee on the Apaa conflict that visited Apaa disputed land and travelled to England and retrieved the original Map of Uganda in Lancaster to authenticate the border between Adjumani and Amuru districts which originally was the border between Acholi and Madi districts.
In 2016, President Yoweri Museveni addressed a rally in Apaa and declared that Apaa is in Adjumani district and emotionally said when the area was gazetted as a wildlife reserve during the regime of former president Milton Obote 1 regime when late Onama Felix and Otema Ali Madi both senior ministers are all from northern Uganda and why are you causing confusion in my government.
In the same year, the prime minister of Uganda Hon.Rukuhana Rugunda was assigned by the president to head a committee of leaders and elders from Madi and Acholi to come up with recommendations ‘for action but the report that was handed to the president the same year but the report was never executed.
Several ministers including Ephraim Kamuntu former minister for tourism, Sarah Opendi minister of state for lands, Late Gen.Aronda Nyakairima minister of internal affairs, Maj Tom Butime, the Minister of local government were sent by the cabinet to oversee the peaceful evacuation of the illegal settlers in Apaa but to no purpose.
A senior government official in the office of the ministry of local government voiced trepidation over the unjustifiable sojourn by the office of the president in determining Apaa feud when all investigations and research reports from Parliament, Cabinet, cultural and religious institutions which are sufficient for putting the matter to rest are all lying side by side on the table of the president.
Many observers on the Apaa conflict believe the resolution of the meeting seeking yet another meeting with the president is a handsome time wasting since the president’s priority for now does not include the Apaa conflict for whatever reasons otherwise the best solution ever on the matter was the cabinet resolution which the president reversed during his address in Kaunda grounds in Gulu City in what many Madi spectators’ term as the last straw on the back of the camel.