Mp Acon

Exclusive: MP Acon on building a church; reveals irrepairable disunity among Lango MPs 

(Last Updated On: 4 March 2024)

Kampala I The Otuke East Member of Parliament Julius Acon Bua has spoken exclusively to tndNews, revealing why he chose to build a multi-million church for his people.

Also serving as treasurer of Lango Parliamentary Group (LPG), Acon disclosed irrepairable disunity among the 32 MPs from Lango, half of whom are distanced from the group.

tndNews Milton Emmy Akwam interviewed ‘the boy who runs’ [as he’s fondly called by his constituents] on February 28, and below is what the publication can share with you. 

Hon., you are serving your second term as an MP. Tell us what kind of projects and support you have accorded to your people.

Whatever I have done so far is personal, not government projects. So these are the projects that I have done from the time I was elected into Parliament in 2016. In the eight years so far, I have drilled 75 boreholes in the villages of Otuke and I have also repaired several boreholes – approximately 200. Each time I am ready to fix any borehole which is down. 

I have distributed almost 22,000 seeds to homes for the last 11 years; it began in 2009 before I joined Parliament. Recently, on February 23, 2024, I opened one of the third largest churches in East Lango – Yahweh Pentecostal Church which cost me shs700m.

Mp acon
The shs700m Church.

Why did you choose to build a church, not school[s]? 

After building a health facility named after my mother, I read a story of 1 King where King Solomon built a Palace or a place of worshipping God and also when God asked him what he wanted, he said he wanted ‘wisdom’ before being rich or anything. So these are the kind of stories in the Bible that motivated me and I believe God’s house was a blessing, that is why I became a great athlete, because God had a good heart in me – that is why I wanted to appreciate God in return by building a big church which accommodates about 1,000 worshippers.

The church will be equipped with power (electricity), and a video system; where people go and watch the story of Jesus. 

Also, I have built a Health Center III called ‘Christina’ in the name of my Mum who passed away in 2005 to help the community.

This year, from June, my running company called Nick, will release some money [funding] which we will use to have an operational theatre and also put a fridge (mortuary) at the same site. This will upgrade the facility to Health Centre IV. This is the vision and what I want to do for my people.

In the second week of March 2024, I will also give households 15,000 hand hoes which I have bought to boost agriculture for the community of Otuke. I look to stand strongly in agriculture, health and education because these three key things, when it’s doing well [I think] the lives, the community will feel much better.

What is going to accompany the hoes you are going to give to your people?

Well, this year I am going to give only hoes. In 2023, I gave maize seeds which still exist. So the hoes which I give, in ten years will already be finished because this is a large number of households, it takes a while to give every year. So I give every five to six years. There are some people who cannot afford it, and it is part of appreciation. When they vote for you, you give them something in appreciation because you cannot appreciate only one person or a few.

Also read: MP Acon constructing shs9m toilets for Gotojwang traders

Did shs700m come from your pocket alone or were there contributions from friends?

For the church, the shs700m was basically, strictly from my pocket and my wife’s. I have saved this money for 15 years. Each time I was running I was saving: that was US$166,000 which I had saved for 15 years and no single coin came from anybody.

I would say, ‘Maybe my brother’ – Jimmy Okullu who gave me shs20m in support, and then Members of Parliament were 21. Each contributed shs500, 000; that is about shs 10.5m. The Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Anite Among has also promised to give me something. So, this amount strictly all came from me and my wife as a family. 

So, the contributions that they gave now sum up in the shs700m?

Yes, it sums up to shs700m

Talking about agriculture, what big concerns have you seen or heard from your constituents?

One challenge in my constituency is the road. Accessibility of roads….I would appeal to the government and I am happy with shs1b to open up some local roads and the security roads. This is one of the things which were affecting agriculture. Secondly, the prices were too low and the government needed to come up with support to make sure when farmers plant their crops they should look for the markets. 

I cannot do this alone, like making roads or putting up the prices. So normally we have to appeal to the government to make sure we have enough buyers. For example, the maize seeds I gave last year to almost 20,000 households, have harvested at least 80 per cent but you look at the price of maize – only shs500 per kilo. When it is turned into posho it becomes so costly – shs2000 per kilo which is like cheating the farmers. That is what I am looking into so that the government can come in and help.

In order to boost our country, I think there are three key things which I would request the government to do. One is the roads that are causing the loss of lives of people and losses in agriculture. Secondly is the health or the hospital. This is one of the things that the government should look into. People should be healthy and more hospitals should be built, and have more access in different villages or parishes.

Thirdly is education. The government schools have no better construction and also teachers should be paid, they should equip schools with textbooks. These are the kinds of things which have weakened this government. Three key things: education, roads and health are a cry for everyone.

As a senior leader of Lango Parliamentary Group, what should Lango expect from you as a group?

Well, we as Members of Parliament of Lango, are 32 and out of 32, I am their treasurer. We are in a group where when the issue of Kamdini-Lira road came up, I am so pleased that we rose as Members of Parliament from Lango and I can see there is reconstruction going on which is much better. 

Before, we used to drive for 2 hours and at least you can see that the one-hour drive is coming back although reconstruction is still going on.

The issue of John Akii Bua also came up. These are things that everyone is taking more concern and we as Members of Parliament are also taking concern to make sure the government at least should come and fulfil the pledge.

As a Lango Parliamentary Group, I know it has not been so easy for us, it has been a struggle because one of the hardest parts is, that we are divided into two or three which makes it very difficult for us to stand together in a certain way.

Some Members of Parliament are not in the association (LPG), they are on their own, and then some are looking into the party. You should not consider a party once elected to represent the people of Uganda, not only your constituency. Thirdly, there is undermining of the leadership among us. Our chairperson is a woman – Hon. Judith Alyek (Kole Woman). Among us as LPG, some members undermine the leaders – either because she is a lady, or she has won or taken the position which they should have taken.

Also read: New LPG Chairperson: Inside Alyek’s manifesto

We have challenges; don’t expect much from us as LPG because now we are in the third year. We could have come together a long time ago, so I see that we lag.

Out of the 32 MPs from Lango, how many are together?

Out of 32, we find one person as a non-registered member, on his own, and then you find the 11 undermine a leader and like 15 are together, but still it’s not enough. And then the rest who are not included really don’t mind about the Lango Parliamentary Group – doesn’t care, for burial, they don’t go, contributions they don’t contribute. So you see there is that division.

I understand there is supposed to be a monthly contribution from all the MPs under the group. Is this something members are adhering to including those I would refer to them as “rebels”?

We are only about 15 members who are on contributions and this is why you look at it – it weakens. If a few or 50 per cent are contributing, then the 50 per cent have fallen apart, making it very difficult to bridge that gap, to bring the contributions to use. So we end up keeping it for ourselves or for themselves. 

Before we used to contribute [let’s say a colleague lost a close relative, father, son, brother or mother] people would contribute. But you find sometimes it’s a struggle. For example, look at what happened [but I appreciate everyone for burying Hon. Cecilia]. At least everyone contributed which was convincing although some were not willing, you know!

For the late Hon. Charles Okello Engola, it was something like a struggle, you know! Some, maybe like two people, did not contribute. So, you see people become so greedy when they come here (to Parliament) and mostly not respecting the position. Some believe they are highly educated, some believe they are too rich, some believe they spend a lot during campaigns, they have loans, and some believe for who they are. You know! These are the kinds of things which I see.

Do we have to agree that all you have mentioned above are contributing to the decline in service delivery and division in Lango sub-region?

Yes, sure. So it is what causes the decline in service delivery in Lango because some would go to the radio [station] and when you listen, he talks as if he doesn’t receive a salary yet we all receive equal salary. And then also some talk on radio like – for him he doesn’t get any additional benefits from the government of Uganda but when the benefits are received, he or she pretends as if he or she never received it. 

The people of Lango should ask, ‘Why are you talking on behalf of everybody and ignoring yourself’? So those are the kinds of things when I hear on the radio, some of our Honorable Members of Parliament from Lango talk, like he or she is innocent and doesn’t know anything.

What do you think are the immediate solutions before we go into the next elections? Coming [back] together as a group?

Well, at the moment I look at it as if it is too late because it could have been done before the end of the second year. Now in the third year, everyone will become very rare on the floor of Parliament or reporting. You will find that even speaking on the floor of Parliament, out of 530 Members of Parliament in the entire country and then 32 for Lango, few people will be making 50 per cent, and many will be going back to their constituencies. I don’t see any immediate help or change in the current group of Lango MPs.

What is going to be your primary focus for your constituents as we head towards 2026?

I think for me as an individual, my primary focus now is to make sure I am close with the community, to do something [although it is not mandated or not a Law] because our people are too poor; where you have to repair boreholes, you have to lobby other things from both the government and international and also to give out of your pocket. So many demands from your people also make poor performance in this country as a Member of Parliament because the demand is too much.

Phone calls alone are just crazy. The primary thing to do, I will be close to the community and try to do the needful. When they see you in their presence they are happy.

How many phone calls do you receive from your constituents per day?

[MP Acon bursts into laughter and replies]: Like for me, the average phone calls from Otuke are about 40 per day and all these are problems. There is no phone call which I receive only for greetings or to ask how are you doing. Sometimes they don’t even greet you; they only say ‘Honourable, I have a problem.’ They don’t introduce themselves.  It’s a big challenge, it’s for everybody but for me, I see that average of 40 phone calls a day. 

Sometimes I explain and say, ‘Look, if I give you [money] now I have to go and repair boreholes and that is about shs500,000 to shs1m, why don’t I go and repair the boreholes?’ I got an ambulance, I have the hospital next to you there, nearer and affordable and then also I have to look for money to go for Church fundraising, I have to look for the money for burials.’

 There are a lot of explanations. Sometimes we go broke and you don’t even have money on your mobile phone, it’s not easy.

Many thanks, Honourable for your time.

You’re welcome.

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