Opinion: Leaders Should Learn to Wear Thick Skin When on Public Duty

Opinion: Leaders Should Learn to Wear Thick Skin When on Public Duty

By Ofwono Opondo

Holding top leaders with a large sense of self- in Uganda to account is a mucky job but someone has to do it. They usually don’t appreciate that in God’s law there is no statute of limitation. And so in their own world of ghosts they cannot believe that there are no witches because they often tremble at curses. The ongoing expose of flagrant abuse of public resources at parliament has enlisted absurd and unsubstantiated claims meant to deflect accountability that exhibitors are either funded by LGBTQ, and imaginary ‘enemies’ in an internal power struggle to succeed President Yoweri Museveni. Rather than answer pertinent issues being raised, parliament leadership is hiding in plain view but hires media activists to flush dung with unrestrained arrogance.

Now months since three Presidential Executive Orders were issued and the ‘Balaalo’ haven’t yet been evicted from Acholi sub-region, probably due to intricacies involved. But Chief Justice (CJ) Alfonse Owiny-Dollo Chigamoy is angry with criticism he should dissuade himself from leading the crusade against Balaalo pastoralists allegedly trespassing into Acholi.

In particular, Owiny–Dollo has made cheap scapegoat, unwarranted attacks and ridicule due to an earlier column in this newspaper. At various public occasions, Owiny-Dollo has made threadbare claims that the Balaalo have hired me to ‘attack’ him. I challenge him today to prove it or keep his peace. And he has been aiming sideswipes at whoever disagrees with his stance against the Balaalo. At one occasion he even threatened to resign from CJ if that was the price. As former Agago MP and minister perhaps he still nurses some excess in self-regard which shouldn’t tip the scale. Surely, as CJ, he should be defending my right to speak even when he disagrees with the content and style, and after all, am not a mucker.

I had chosen to ignore the eccentric outbursts, had it not been for persistence because in public discourse it isn’t prudent nurse personal grudges. As a senior judicial officer, CJ ought to appreciate why many think he shouldn’t be leading the public crusade against the so-called Balaalo as the matter could eventually land on his desk for determination, but nay. But maybe he’s deluded that he is insulated from open criticism. Owiny-Dollo seems to think that it’s his sole duty to protect Acholiland from ‘foreign invaders’ which I strongly disagree with because it’s our collective duty as citizens to protect, defend, and promote the rights of the vulnerable.

Though thrilled to talk with macho as CJ, which, I respect, but when he throws himself into matters under public discourse, he should always be ready to tango until the best ideas, not officialdom prevail, and his entanglement with the Mengo feudal establishment following Jacob Oulanyah’s death in 2022 which forced him to publicly coil tail should have been a lesson.

On this street, many will see him for what he really is, a man of thin skin, probably whining for a lost cause. So far so good, he is fighting an imaginary war with me over Balaalo with whom I have no links, except defending the rights of every Ugandan to work, invest and live wherever they want provided it’s legal and peaceful.

Unlike the master of the universe, Owiny-Dollo could be experiencing the pains of his futility after discovering that he cannot change much. His fight is dim although he doesn’t realise it, and attacks on me could be faint throes of a man looking for a fish out of water. I still plead with CJ to torn down his anger while responding to critics otherwise he comes off as a man of thin skin, and yet hopes that angels are on his side.