President Yoweri Museveni has hailed the late Rtd. Col Charles Patrick Okello-Engola Macodwogo for pacifying Northern Uganda by rejecting negative divergent ideas of the political elite class from the North who were saying the NRA/NRM government had overthrown the government of the Acholis in 1986.
“He was a patriot. He didn’t listen to those saying NRA had overthrown the government of the Acholis,” H.E Museveni noted, saying he first saw Macodwogo in 1986 when he was manning a 14.5 mm machine gun.
Gen Museveni who was on Wednesday speaking at a funeral service to honor the former State Minister for Labour, Employment and Industrial Relations, Rtd. Col Charles Patrick Okello-Engola held at Kololo ceremonial grounds described the late as a good and courageous soldier who finished off the rebels in the North to enable peace and development that earned him a name Macodwogo meaning “fire has returned”.
The President explained that Col. Engola fought effectively against the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) rebels and people were able to go back and cook and have a normal life without being scared of the enemy.
Retired Col Engola was shot on Tuesday 2nd May 2023 by one of his guards- army Private Wilson Sabiiti, while he prepared to go to work. Sabiiti later turned the gun on himself at a nearby salon.
President Museveni told the mourners that Okello-Engola had nothing to do with the cause of his death, saying, “It must be a problem somewhere else.”
He added that the Chief of Defense Forces has already constituted a board of inquiry headed by Brigadier Rugumayo to establish the cause of the shooting.
“So definitely we’re going to get a report,” Gen Museveni said, who was in company of the First Lady Mama Janet Museveni.
The President expressed dismay that some Members of the political class and even members of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) have started departing from the NRA/NRM line. He said their ideology, strategy and work method was voluntarism, patriotism and sacrifice although some people started talking about premature issues such as big salaries and other benefits.
The President advised that they should return to the original doctrine of the NRM.
“So, those people who have been pushing that line, need to realize their mistakes,” H.E Museveni said.
He gave an example of the former President of Uganda Idi Amin who paid high salaries to public servants and soldiers and when the war came, they couldn’t fight.
“If you make the salaries of each soldier so high, how will you get manpower to defend the country,” Gen Museveni said, adding that Uganda cannot afford high salaries.
The President further called upon the political class to go back to the NRA line of sacrifice to avoid embarrassment like the killing of Col. Engola describing the nature of his demise as an embarrassment.
“This is a very big embarrassment from the army that somebody deployed to guard a useful cadre ended up killing him. This is terrible. The army will have to sort out its internal problems,” H.E Museveni further said.
The President also apologised to the family of the late Engola, the people of Lango, Uganda and Africa at large and assured that those involved will be crushed.
“It’s unfortunate that this wonderful cadre ended up being killed by a bad product produced by our own system,” Gen. Museveni said, adding that the army will have to discuss with the family to reconcile for the unfortunate incident.
“And it does not have to be seven (7) cows. Yes, you have forgiven us, but it should be with conditions because it may bring about impunity,” H.E Museveni said.
Mrs. Joyce Engola the wife to the deceased described the death of her husband as the darkest part of her life but thanked God for having prepared her to face it having fasted for 21 days prior to his death not knowing what was meant to happen to her. She expressed gratitude to President Museveni for all the support and according to her husband an official burial.
“It has given me strength, courage and hope,” Mrs. Engola said.
Mr. Samuel Engola Junior, the eldest son of the deceased described their father as a great warrior, politician, farmer and a very enterprising person who implemented President Museveni’s wealth creation gospel in the region with passion.
Engola Junior told mourners that their father taught them to forgive and for that matter the family of Private Sabiiti who killed their father has been forgiven so that they can find some rest.
“Our father told us that whenever someone wrongs you, that’s a debt for God to handle and just forgive,” he said.
He noted that his father was a very generous man and by the time of his death he had 21 dependants some of which have completed education in various disciplines including one PhD holder, Master’s degree holders and others with Bachelor’s degrees, diplomas and certificates.
Mr. Sam Engola, the brother to the deceased, described as unbelievable that his brother had 28 bullets on him upon his death having fought all the wars that liberated this country. He said they don’t want any compensation from the family of Sabiiti.
He further thanked President Museveni for all the assistance and love for Okello family and for according to him an official burial.
The Minister for Gender Labour and Social Development, Amongi Betty Ongom told the mourners that Charles Engola will remain one of the pillars of Lango and described his death as a painful one.
Minister Amongi called upon the people of Oyam and Lango as a whole not to demand compensation from the family of Private Sabiiti who took the life of their son.
“The soldier who killed the Minister was an employee of the state and the gun was given to him by the state to protect Col Engola,” Minister Amongi said.
She called upon those on investigations to do a thorough job to establish what prompted Private Sabiiti to kill the person he was meant to protect.
The Bishop of Lango Diocese, the Rt. Rev. Assoc Prof Alfred Olwa who led the service hailed the late Engola as a hardworking Christian who utilized his time on earth by balancing his spiritual life and the life of work.
Bishop Olwa said Col. Engola understood the words of St Paul: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat,” and that he spearheaded wealth creation in Lango by engaging in large scale commercial farming.
“We cannot simply name and claim what we have not worked for. Our God is a working God. We must work hard like Hon. Macodwogo because we serve a working God. Col. Engola always worked hard and diligently wherever his assignment was,” the Bishop said.
Kenya’s Cabinet secretary at the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, Hon Florence Bore expressed her sympathy to the family of Engola and the entire country for the loss of the minister with whom before his death they worked closely as sister Labour Ministries.
She thanked President Museveni for mentoring their President William Samoei Ruto, saying it became easy for them as heads of Ministries to work together.
“It was easy for us to bond because you Presidents are friends,” she said.
The ceremony was attended by Ministers, Members of Parliament, Senior UPDF officers, the former Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda among others.
Engola’s body will on Thursday depart for Oyam District where a council sitting will be held in his honor and thereafter, it will be taken to the deceased’s home in Awangi Village, Iceme Sub-county in Oyam District on Friday and laid to rest on Saturday.