OYAM. Col Charles Okello Engola was laid to rest yesterday at his ancestral home at Awangi Village, Iceme Sub-county in Oyam District.
Col Engola, the former State minister for Labour and Oyam North MP, was shot dead at home by his bodyguard, Pte Wilson Sabiti, on May 2, 2023. Sabiti shortly after turned the gun on himself.
Postmortem report says Col Engola was shot 28 times while his personal assistant, Lt Ronald Otim, who is still hospitalised, was shot seven times. No conclusive motive has been established for the shooting.
But the war veteran leaves no power vacuum as the family has fronted his son, Samuel Okello Engola Jr as successor. However, Junior is not his late father’s match. Why? The reason is simple.
The civil engineer does not have any military background neither the big fan base his papa enjoyed in the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party.
Moreover, Junior is a diehard of the Uganda Peoples Congress Party (UPC), which has twice ruled Uganda and is immensely popular in his Lango sub-region. He has previously been elected and served as councilor on the UPC party ticket, which he is not known to have renounced.
But now that the father, with whom he had stood on different political ridges is no more, plans are underway to dress him a yellow to ease his journey to Parliament as has been the case with many whose parents or siblings have died while in Parliament.
Mr Jacob Okello, the Otikokin clan chief (Rwot) in Oyam North, confirmed the development.
He said the clan had resolved that Engola Jr should be elected to conclude the tenure of his father.
“We have consulted him (Junior) and he has agreed to succeed his father,” the clan leader said.
Mr Engola Jr confirmed last week that he had accepted to take up the mantle of leadership from his father. The tenure of the 11th Parliament ends in 2026, after which Ugandans again go to polls to elect parliamentary representatives, head of state and local leaders of various capacities.
The Oyam District NRM chairman, Mr Jasper Onena, said his office was already flooded with names of aspirants hoping to replace Col Engola, among them his son, who was fronted by the family.
He also said on May 6, the Oyam NRM executives met some aspirants who included former Ambassador Julius Peter Moto, Iceme Town Council chairperson Alfred Okello Obaro, and Mr Augustine Obanga Kenekene, a medical worker.
Others are Mr Willy Omodo Omodo, the former NRM youth vice chairperson for northern Uganda, and Queen Dorothy Amolo.
Mr Omodo Omodo, who contested with Col Engola in the 2021, said: “Politics is governed by the constitution of the [NRM] party, and is not a monarchy where the child takes over from the parent when he or she passes on.”
Ambassador Moto, who has served as Uganda High Commissioner in two countries for 10 years, and former Oyam District speaker Okello Obaro are all eying the Oyam North seat.
Mr Moto has worked for the government for more than 10 years and served in the private sector for another 20 years.
“I offered myself to stand as MP in 2006 and also in 2011 and campaigned for President Museveni and he made it in all the areas in Oyam North where he used to get zero per cent. So, this is an opportunity for me to replace Col Engola in Oyam North,” he said.
Mr Okello Obaro, the chairman of Iceme Town Council, said he was ready to fill that vacant position too.
Ms Amolo is an investor based in the United States of America. She is the brain behind various community groups promoting wealth creation initiatives in Aber, Minakulu, Myene, Loro, Acaba, and Iceme Sub-counties, all in Oyam District.
On May 3, Ms Amolo told Look North that Col Engola’s death has crippled the development plan they had for the people of Oyam District.
“We had just concluded a partnership to bring a radio station to the people of northern Uganda and several pieces of equipment for the community hospital that he founded in Oyam North—a plan we set in motion months ago,” she said.