INTERVIEW: Esther Akullo Responds To Questions Regarding Replacing Cecelia Ogwal, Land Conflicts In Lango, And What She Offers Dokolo If Elected Into Parliament

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The death of Cecilia Barbara Atim Ogwal on January 18, 2024, at the age of 77 thrust Dokolo district into the limelight – for losing an iconic politician and leader and the task of electing a replacement.

According to the Electoral Commission, the by–election program commenced with the update of the National Voters’ Register for District from Monday, February 12, to Thursday February 15, 2024.

The nomination of candidates will be conducted on Monday, March 11 and Tuesday, March 12, ahead of Election Day on March 21, 2024.

Among the people who have expressed interest in replacing Cecelia Ogwal is a businesswoman and Rotarian Akullo Esther Obot. In this interview, Esther Akullo discusses her passion for uplifting Dokolo district, Lango sub-region, and Uganda as a country. Below are the excerpts.

Who is Esther Akullo?

My name is Akullo Esther Obot, daughter to the late David Obot and Mary Tumusiime Obot. I was born and raised in Adok Dokolo district.

During the 1985/86 insurgences, I went to Adok Primary School before going to complete my upper primary at Fairway Primary School in Mbale and Nabumali High School for my O levels.

I went to Makerere High School in Kampala for A levels, where Dr. Tanga Odoi was my history teacher. I excelled at Makerere University (MUK) to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Social Administration (SWSA).

I went back to Makerere University to do my Masters. I also studied at the Eastern and Southern African Management Institute (ESAMI), a Pan African Regional Management Development Centre.

I also have a PhD in Economics.

Dokolo district lost a matriarch, Cecilia Ogwal, who was widely respected as a politician and leader, where does this loss leave the district?

This is true and may her soul rest in peace. Many people lead by seeing while others lead in practice. Dokolo district has structures that are present.

These are so far managing this loss, For now, we are waiting for the Electoral Commission (EC) to announce the campaigning dates and for the candidates to show interest.

Following that unfortunate vacancy, many young able ladies have come up and will compete favorably. This is all I can say for now.

You have expressed interest in replacing Cecilia, what is inspiring you to take this road?

What is bringing me into this race is the unfinished business in Dokolo district and Uganda at large. Dokolo, just like most parts of Lango, has given Uganda the best brains.

I will deliver when mandated by my constituents in all aspects. Government programs must continue.

I am also an active member of the business community in Lango where I sell all MTN Uganda products and services in real time. I am the Chairperson of MTN dealers in the country.

The issue of land is core for all Dokolo residents and this has caused conflict in some parts of Dokolo and even neighboring districts. Being the Chairperson of Uganda Land Owners Association, Northern Region, I have a personal task to ensure our people have equitable and just issues on this matter.

Finally, Dokolo district has social services that need attention. Dokolo district performed poorly in the last Primary Leaving Examination (PLE), why? These are the gaps that must be addressed, amongst others

I love my culture. I believe culture is the foundation for development. I love God because of his wonderful decision to create humanity.

Your profile is rich in project management and governance but what can you say is your strength as a politician and leader?

I am a hardworking person, I have good networks and I am a professional. I also work, live, and bond well with all members of the communities at different levels of life in Dokolo.

What are you bringing to the Dokolo table? What should people expect from you if they trust and vote you into Parliament?

The people of Dokolo should expect me to upscale the vast and rich experience that has turned me into a great leader. My first employment was in 1994 at the Kachung Maize Mill. I was a finance director for my father’s mill. I served most communities of Dokolo and beyond.

I also worked in Lira with the Family Planning Uganda office. I also worked at the Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU) attending to issues of OVCs and education support. I have also been employed by the United Nations (UN).

I have also worked at the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MOFPED). All these areas offered me a wide range of services above my own experience. I crown it all by being a Rotarian.

I am also an employer; directly giving many young people jobs. The private sector job creation arm is very critical because public service can’t absorb all so we backstop government.

What do you consider the burning challenges facing Dokolo district that need urgent solving?

All social services need attention: markets where farmers can sell their farm produce, value addition to their production, unemployed youth, and unattended elderly, amongst others.

Dokolo is a strong opposition (UPC & FDC), how do you, an NRM member, plan to navigate and convince the voters that you are the right person for the seat?

I am a known independent member of Dokolo. I am part of a politically diverse business Community. I have lived and worked in that community as a child, and now as an adult.

Because of my independence and influence, I appeal to all parties. The people of Dokolo should vote for me because of my strengths as a person and leader, not because of any party colors.

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