BY ANDREW COHEN AMVESI
February 4, 2023
ARUA. Rt. Rev. Sabino Ocan Odoki, the Bishop of Arua Catholic Diocese has appealed to the government to consider enrolling religious institutions as part of the Parish Development Model (PDM) program beneficiaries.
Odoki made the appeal to Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny, the state minister for Northern Uganda who was giving out a total of 81 Friesian cows to 47 different beneficiaries at the former Arua Hill Division Headquarters in Arua Central Division, Arua City on Friday.
The beneficiaries, including religious and cultural leaders, politicians, people with disabilities and government institutions among others were carefully selected from all the districts in the West Nile region.
But during the function, Odoki who was among the beneficiaries after receiving three heifers, commended the government for the offer and went ahead to beg for religious institutions to be included in the PDM program.
“Parish Development Model is good but I would like to put a little request that you also consider the different religions in their own settings. Like for us Catholics, we already have the Parishes. So, when you are talking of Parish Development Model, sometimes we think it is ours,” Odoki said, attracting a loud applause from locals.
He added that: “but then, later on you find that it is a different kind of Parish, so our Catechists say eh but we heard that we were going to have a Parish Development Model when is it coming? So, I want to appeal that in your own wisdom, find also how to empower our Parishes. The name is already fitting and the Parish Pastoral Council is there, they will handle this very well and it will be now the real Parish Development Model.”
Odoki wondered how Muslims will put it but he said for the case of the Anglican faith, they already have their Parishes which are also ready to embrace the program.
“Now Islam, you need to invent your Parish well so that this program that we are now witnessing, next time we are called for Parish Development Model so that we see how to empower those Christian and the Muslim communities,” Odoki said.
Odoki’s appeal was quickly supported by Habib Aluma, the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council Regional Secretary for West Nile region who said their listenership is always very large.
“When you look at the way Churches are filled to capacity on Sundays and when you look at congregational prayers in Mosques every five times a day, you will really know that we who preside over these services are commanding a lot of audience and that engagement with the people always gives us an advantage to get closer and to mobilize them successfully. So, with the government involving religious leaders in the campaign for the PDM, I think we shall deliver this initiative to its success,” Aluma said.
However, Jackson Atima Lee Buti, the Arua Central Division MP rubbished the question of partisanship if the government goes ahead to grant religious leaders their wish to be part of the PDM program, saying they are like any other citizen of Uganda.
“The Church plays a very big role in nourishing the population of this country spiritually. Things that go in the hands of the Church will always reach people because they are transparent. So, if in future the government adds religious leaders to support this PDM, I think it will be a success. Giving service to people is not partisan like these Friesian Cows we are giving out now, we have not talked about NRM, we have not talked about one religion but we are serving the population of Uganda. So, when PDM is given to the religious leaders, they will benefit from the program like any other citizen of Uganda,” Atima stressed.
In her remarks, Kwiyucwiny said she will be waiting to hear that the animals she gave out have delivered because they are already inseminated.
“At least from some beneficiaries I first gave these cows, I have heard three already reporting to me that my cow has delivered. I felt like it was me delivering a baby, I was so excited. So, this is what I want to hear from you because this is the beginning. This is not the only number; these are not the only religious leaders, these are not the only cultural leaders, these are not the only civic leaders but let us start with what we have received today,” Kwiyucwiny said.
“Let us be a good example, your good example will motivate me to come back with more, will motivate Parliament to allocate more resources because now the President is saying, there is peace, can we now do something more meaningful. It has just to be wealth creation, nothing else! In this world what else do you need, at least wealth makes you comfortable but if you don’t have anything, what do you do and if the government has supported you like this, own it and show an example,” Kwiyucwiny advised.