The Member of Parliament for Nwoya district and former Presidential Advisor on Northern Uganda Hon Richard Todwong has scooped a ministerial position in the recent ministerial reshuffle by President Yoweri Museveni that took place last Wednesday.
The new ministerial list flaunted Todwong as the Minister without portfolio in charge of political mobilization, a position initially offered to former DP stalwart turned NRM mobiliser Al Hajji Nasser Ntege Ssebagalalast year but failed to successfully convince the vetting committee in parliament that he was the man for the job.
Todwong began his political career when he was recommended by Frank Tumwebaze to work as one of the commissioners on the Prof. Fredrick Ssempebwa's Constitutional Review Commission. When chairman Ssempebwa wrote a minority report against lifting term limits, Todwong was amongst those that took a contrary position and rallied behin president Museveni in advocating for the amendment.
He would later be rewarded as presidential advisor for northern Uganda. In 2011, Todwong was elected MP for Nwoya district, in district like most in Acholi that had previously been hostile to his NRM.
Prior to his election in Nwoya, Todwong contested for the Parliamentary seat in Gulu municipality in 2006 but lost to David Oceng Penytoo, before making a second attempt in Nwoya district, and winning the hotly contested seat in 2011 beating FDC’s Simon Oyet. Oyet like many other incumbents in Acholi sub-region attributed the surge in NRM victories in the region to the “financially oiled” rigging machinery that was put in place to guarantee victory to the ruling party.
Talking to our reporter on his new appointment, Todwong attributed his appointment to hard work and said that he sees it as a reward from God for his efforts: “hard work pays, its the might of God that has propelled me this far and through Him my great work for the people of Nwoya and Northern Uganda was visible even in the dark. There for I request my people from the North to pray for me so that I go through the parliamentary vetting process, and God protect me and make me achieve greatly in this new office. Long live NRM, Long Live the people of Nwoya and Northern Uganda! I say this, For God and My Country.”
Todwong now joins three others hailing from Acholi sub-region in ministerial posts and they are: Hilary Obaloker Onek who is the MP for Lamwo and Minister for Internal Affairs, Betty Atuku Bigombe, the Woman Member of Parliament for Amuru and State Minister for water, and Henry Okello Oryem the MP for Chua and State minister for Foreign Affairs.
Todwong’s alleged one time foe Hilary Onek welcomed “with a lot of happiness the appointment of Todwong,” and refuted any allegations about any bad relationship between himself and Todwong. Onek said that those were malicious rumors by opponents who claimed that they were fighting for the recognition of the President.
“If that were the case, I have been adequately recognized by the President. I have been a senior cabinet minister since 2006. Why should I fight a junior colleague in order to be recognized?” Onek asked.
Adding further: “I have successfully served the country from 1980 to 2001 at different levels before I joined politics. My performance as a lecturer at the Faculty of Technology, Makerere University, Chief Engineer and later Managing Director at National Water and Sewerage Corporation and as a practicing engineer, is enough evidence”.
Onek said that unless one joins politics for selfish reasons, he believes there should be no fights in politics, particularly when you are in the same party. He does not therefore consider his colleague Todwong an enemy. “So the assumptions are wrong and misplaced, I thank Todwong for his hard work that elevated him to ministerial position.”
Meanwhile Todwong’s nephew Tony Awany who fought a bitter battle for the candidature of the NRM seat in Nwoya during the 2011 primaries, also welcomed Twodong’s appointment and congratulated him upon his achievement.
“I take this opportunity to congratulate Hon. Richard Todwong upon his ministerial appointment. The elevation to the cabinet position of Minister without portfolio (in charge of political mobilization) is a plausible move by the appointing authority,” Awany said.
“The breaking news got me pensively communing with the almighty God interceding for the soul of my great friend Johnson Okee Kiiza who passed away at Kampala International Hospital after years of very enterprising healthcare ventures in the UK. The news of the cabinet shakeup came minutes before the late Johnson was laid to rest at Bed-mot village, Karuma Parish, Mutunda Sub-county, Kiryandondo district. Todwong was the chief mourner at the funeral where the announcement of his appointment was preemptively made by Samuel Oduny the MC of the day who called on the area MP Owor Sam Otada to invite the “Hon. Minister without Portfolio” to address the mourners,” Awany added.
Awany called on his uncle Todwong to use his position to develop services in the region for the betterment of his people.
“We hope it is a timely placement to enhance his ability to advocate for better service delivery not only for his constituent Nwoya but for the region and Uganda in general, we pray that the almighty God helps the good MP and the new minster to particularly be sensitive to the desperate predicament of the people of Northern Uganda still emerging to the shores of post conflict rehabilitation; and as a minister may he also practice political maturity in advancing national reconciliation .May God bless him in pursuing the enormous task ahead of him,” Awany said.
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