By Emmanuel Omona
The Resident District Commissioner for Arua Ibrahim Abiriga puzzled the civil society Organizations in Gulu when he criticized the award of Baptist John Baptist Odama, the winner of the International Peace Award 2012.
Abiriga while addressing the congregation criticized Bishop Odama saying that he did not deserve to win the International Peace Awards.
Abiriga also criticized World Vision and other civil society organizations saying they defaulted the procedures to be taken when scrutinizing the nominees.
“The local people should have been involved in this awards but we cannot see them”, Abiriga claimed.
To Abiriga, the Awards should have been given to army officers who fought very hard in bringing the prevailing peace in northern Uganda.
He cited army officers such as Brigadier Otema Awany and General Salim Saleh, whom he cherished for fighting Joseph Kony.
The gallery became irritated with Abiriga’s comments and shouted on top of their voices telling him to get lost from the function.
But Abiriga could not stop but continued that, “In future the Award might even be given to chicken because no proper procedure is being followed”.
In a separate interview with Uganda Picks ,the Director of Peace Building from World Vision, Mathew Scott justified that the nominations for the Award were done on internet globally.
“The bishop was nominated by Owor who works for justice and reconciliation project and underwent through different people around the world, not only in Gulu, not even Africa, but it is done at the International”, Matthew explained.
Bishop John Baptist Odama was awarded with two categories of awards which were in kind and a cheque worth 5,000 US Dollars which he immediately donated it to the Acholi education initiative board of trustees chairman Rt. Bishop Baker McLeod Ochola.
There were also a number of people who were recognized for their elaborate struggle in bringing peace in Northern Uganda.
They included Minister for Water, Betty Bigombe Atuku, Sheikh Musa Khelil the Acholi district Khadi, Ajelina Atyam founder for concerned parents association, Rwot David Acana II- the Acholi Paramount Chief and the late Walter Ochora- who was the Gulu RDC at the time of LRA Insurgency.
Delivering his acceptance speech of the award, the bishop said the award is like a restoration of hope to the people of the greater north who have been at the centre of the war.