Members of parliament have Sunday eulogised fallen colleague and Arua Municipality Member of Parliament Ibrahim Abiriga.
Abiriga’s body lay in state at parliament following prayers at Gaddafi Mosque. One by one of the members of parliament took the floor to eulogise the “yellow man”.
What was different for the day however is that most members of parliament were clad in yellow outfit as symbolism to Abiriga’s signature dress code.
“I am dressed in a yellow tie today because of Abiriga,” opposition legislator Elijah Okupa (Kasilo County) said.
Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda moved the motion to honor Abiriga, he said Abiriga served in the Army and retired at the rank of Colonel. He said Abiriga was a patriotic leader. He pronounced the killing of Hon. Abiriga and his brother (his bodyguard) as a cowardice act. He has promised that the killers will be hunted.
“Abiriga was a honest, open minded person who could easily get along with everyone. He has let behind a widow and nine children,” he said.
“Hon. Abiriga was a very approachable, simple person who didn’t deserve such a brutal death. He was in my office this week presenting his people’s grievances and had promised to meet again next week. Unfortunately, the second meeting won’t be in place,” he added.
Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Winnie Kiiza labelled Abiriga a uniting factor in parliament, who was hard to annoy and who joked with everyone even though you abused him.
“I remember at the state of the nation address, Abiriga told me, come and we sit here together. I told him, ah your yellow is too much, I will have to first dress you in blue. He told me, my sister let these colors not separate us,” Kiiza said.
She said that Abiriga was hard to annoy, he never took anything personal and he joked with everyone even when you abused him. “For us, he was a uniting factor”.
However, the LoP was quick to lash out at government for their pathetic failure at curbing the current spate of crimes in the country.
“When they started killing religious leaders, government said it was religious, when they started killing women, they said it was illuminati, when they started on children they said it was sacrifice, when kidnaps on women started, they said it is prostitution, they killed Kaweesi and they said we are going to get CCTV cameras, now they have killed their own,” she said.
“We are supposed to ensure that we take care of each other, but the sole responsibility of security lies in the confines of government. Killings have no shame, no colour, no status, that is why they have gone for children, women, religious leaders and now they are on MPs,” she added.
Kabale Municipality legislator Andrew Baryayanga said when he had the news on social media, he prayed it was fake news. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Hon. Abiriga had genuine love for NRM. His clothes were yellow, car, cups and even bed sheets. He was a committed man”.
“We are tired of assurances that things will be better. Ugandans are demanding for answers which should be provided. We need a reassurance concerning Ugandans security,” he added.
Hood Katuramu (PWD representative) said Abiriga has been a very religious person who could not miss a prayer and meeting of the Moslem Parliamentary Caucus (MPC). He was a truthful person. “The MPC has contributed 5m to the family of the Late Hon. Abiriga.”
Ismail Ogama said Abiriga’s image is never a secret. He is an internationally known person. He loved his people and could do anything to protect them. He joined the rebel group (ADF) with Moses Ali to fight for the people of the Nile valley.
“Abiriga’s character will always be missed by everyone. He will never be forgotten for his generosity. He has been killed in a moment when he was giving tokens to people around him in Kawanda. He didn’t only focus on his constituents.”
Internal Affairs minister, Obiga Kania said Abiriga was not a very educated person but he believed in himself. He used his talent to change his life and the lives of other people.
Chris Baryomunsi said if Hon. Abiriga was killed for his political beliefs, then all politicians should be ready for exile and death. If it was for the decisions taken in the house, then the killers are wrong cause MPs will continue taking decisions in the house.
Lamwaka Catherine said Abiriga was a very honest, open and strong person. “He told me that to manage the position of a District Commissioner, I had to be a down to earth person and leave the book titles in office.”
The first lady Janet Kataaha Museveni said Hon. Abiriga was a very humble person. She wondered whether the killers are trying to tell Ugandans that serving your country with love is a crime.
“Abiriga spread love the country. That’s why many people didn’t know him as a person but as a person who puts on yellow, loves NRM, straight and honest.”
“It’s OK to blame the government for the insecurity in the country cause it’s it’s responsibility to protect the people. However, we should all be concerned as it’s all our responsibility to ensure safety of everyone,” she said.
Francis Mwijuke (Buhweju)
We should be concerned with the security of all Ugandans. If we are still being killed by Idiots and cowards as being said, then we are not serious. These are not idiots or cowards; they are serious killers.
Beatrice Anywar (Kitgum Municipality)
The whole country is looking at us as leaders and whatever we are saying here is sending a message. We are here to console the family of the Late Hon. Abiriga and Ugandans at large not to add salt in the wound.
Abiriga suffered in exile and promised that as long as he lived, no group of people was to be sent into exile. He also promised himself never to be forced into exile again. Let’s not create any situation that forces people into exile
Moses Balyeku (Jinja West)
No one has talked about the bodyguard but this should be a clear signal that bodyguards are people who die for us. An attack on Hon. Abiriga is an attack on Parliament, an attack on Parliament is an attack on Uganda. Let’s put in place a committee to handle these security issues in Uganda.
Born in 1956 in Arua,Abiriga joined the Uganda Army in 1971 up to 1976 and went into exile in Congo .
Abiriga later returned and joined National Resistance Army where he rose to second division administration officer until he retired from army at the rank of colonel in 1990.
The slain soldier also served Resident District Commissioner for Arua and Yumbe districts for 16 years until he resigned to join active politics.
He was in 2016 elected as the Member of Parliament for Arua Municipality until his death on Friday