BULAMBULI – Maya Angelou is quoted to have said: Nothing can dim the light that shines from within. She reasoned that courageous women find strength in their character that forms the inner core. This resonates well with my sister Hon. Eng. Dr. Irene Nafuna Muloni who despite being cornered in the 2016 elections by a less competent girl then; the incumbent Woman MP Sarah Nambozo Wekomba which choice is regretted, as a woman of steel character and grit, a gem of true value like the legendary phoenix, she remained steady fast and continued serving her people.
As the country gears up for 2021 general elections, there is general consensus that the QUALITY of the aspirants in key Parliamentary posts like women Mp must take central position being born out of the affirmative action movement for women. And this brings her in the spotlight as one of the outstanding woman performers of our time.
So who is Eng. Dr. Hon. Irene Nafuna Muloni?
She is a Ugandan electrical engineer, businesswoman and politician. She is a Senior Presidential Advisor to Ugandan President having served as Cabinet Minister for Energy and Minerals from May 27th 2011 till December 2019.
Born on 18 November 1960, in Sironko District, she attended Budadiri Girls’ Primary School before joining Gayaza High School. In 1980, she joined Makerere University and graduated in 1985 with an Honors degree in Electrical Engineering. These were the first grandaunds of H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in 1986. She holds an MBA degree from Capella University, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA in 2004 and is a Registered Engineer, a Certified Public-Private-Partnership Specialist, and a Professional Balanced Scorecard Practitioner accredited by The Institute for Public-Private Partnerships, Inc. (IP3) and the Water, Engineering and Development Centre of Loughborough University. She holds Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) Degree HC, Commonwealth University, UK (2019)
She was the Winner of the Sarah Ntiiro Award 2003; a recognition as a “Model of Excellence” by the Forum for Africa Women Educationists (FAWE). The forum’s Lecture and Award is an advocacy tool meant to inspire girls to excellence in education and women’s leadership by celebrating the trail-blazer. She was recognized by Uganda Christian University in 2012 with the ‘Eastern Region Women Achievers Award’ for helping improve the condition of women and girls; awarded and accredited as a member of “Who is Who Book of Records” with ‘The 2013 Pearl of Africa Lifetime Achievement Award’ in honor and appreciation of her contribution towards Social Economic Transformation of Uganda and attainment of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, decorated with the Golden Jubilee Medal by H.E the President of the Republic of Uganda as a Member of Parliament for contributing towards the democratization of our country. Since graduation, Irene was gainfully employed in leadership and management responsibilities in Energy, Telecom and Banking Sector for 34 years as Managing Director UEDCL, Board member to Civil Aviation Authority Uganda, Kilembe Mines Ltd, Kyambogo University, Uganda Industrial Research Institute and Finance Trust Bank, the 1st Women’s Bank in Uganda.
In 2011, she entered elective politics, by successfully contesting for the Bulambuli District Women’s Representative in the 9th Ugandan Parliament (2011-2016) a position she “lost” in the next election.
Since losing her position in Parliament, she has demonstrated in so many ways that she is half warrior, delicate and strong; a virtue so rare to find in so many women today. Describing herself as destiny’s child, she committed herself to make a difference in the lives of our people and humanity as a whole.
This is what makes her stand out:
She has promoted education in the district by; securing 4 scholarships for needy students in Bulambuli who include; Emma Nazabwana, Son of Micheal Matebe from Bukhalu Sub-county who graduated as a Medical Doctors from KIU and now works with Case Hospital, Kampala; Derrick Cherriberi Son of Chiara from Bulegeni Town Council who studied at Kyambogo University and now works with Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and is now in Korea to study a Masters in Nuclear Science; Bernard Kiwungulo, Son of Steven Nabwana from Bumasobo Sub-county who studied Laboratory Technology at Mbarara University of Science and Technology and now works with Kampala Hospitals; and Abraham Wogalo, son of the late Wambi Wogalo from Muyembe Sub county who studied Law at IUIU and now works with the Judiciary.
As a senior lobbyist and a behind the scenes negotiator, she helped the elevation of four secondary Schools to A-level status which include St Joseph Buyaga S.S, Nabbongo S.S, Tunyi girls S.S and Bunginyanya Comprehensive S.S which schools saw the construction of 22 classroom blocks. This was important to help students who would otherwise walk longer distances to access the same. Bukhalu seed school was also established with her efforts. Other interventions in the education sector include the procurement of past Papers books from UNEB for all schools in Bulambuli in an effort to uplift the standard of education in the district.
As an advocate for gender equality and women’s empowerment for sustainable development she has provide financial support to several women groups notably; Tunyi Catholic Women Savings Group, Bwikhonge Women Group, Muyembe Women group, Buginyanya Namidambo Women Group aimed at empowering the local woman. She has to date donated 17 modern tailoring machines to several women groups in the District. This was meant to equip young female youths (Mothers) with skills which would enable them address their financial obligations in their respective homes. Two of these were installed at the African Village Support (AVS) Center to train the youths which interventions have since registered tremendous results at household and community level.
At the far end of her responsibility, she established a piggery at Buyaga TC as a breeder to multiply and distribute piglets to 35 active farmer groups in the district. The aim was to improve household income in the district. As a linkage to the project, she lobbied the President to provide 5 Maize Milling Machines for value addition worth over 100 million shillings for Women groups in the District. This came along with the construction of 5 houses worth 180 million shillings to house the project.
As is the trend these days, the youths, farmers and taxi drivers were not left out. She lobbied and delivered 20 Motorcycles to which H.E donated to NRM mobilizers in the district. Taxi drivers association bagged 2,600,000 to kick start their activities.
Recognizing farming as the key driver of poverty alleviation, she lobbied and delivered Four modern brand new tractors from H.E the President that have since been given to three farmers groups thus; Bulambuli Development Forum, AVS and Tabu integrated Women’s group, and the district NRM mobilizers early this year 2020.
With her support, Buginyanya Zonal Agricultural Research Institute received support worth US$250,000 towards Irish potato research in Bulambuli to promote commercial farming and to enhance food security at household level. This was crowned with the provision of maize, onion seeds and coffee seedlings to 2,200 farmers. A total of 780,000 quality coffee seedlings were distributed along with 6,000 hand hoes to LC1s and Village health teams in Bulambuli district.
It was during her tenure as Energy Minister that birthed the Construction of Muyembe-Mbigi Hydro Power Dam in Bulambuli all aimed to boost production and Development in the District and the neigh hood. The current clear access mechanisms to electricity from 14% to 51% were her handwork to support development and industrialization (industrial parks) not to mention the famous free-to-connection policy.
Having good knowledge as to how parliament operates, she did well to influence allocation of resources by proposing priority areas of funding; that saw government put in plan the tarmacking of 40km of roads from Simu corner-to-Buginyanya, Masira and Bulago and from Buyaga to Buluganya and Bumasobo. All to facilitate ease of movement of persons and agricultural produce to the market. It is just a matter of following up so that these roads are actually done. And so was the shillings 6 Billion for the water project for Bulambuli by the Ministry of Water and Environment that covers the entire district and also addresses all water gaps in all town councils of Bulegeni TC, Bulambuli TC, Buyaga TC and the peripheral trading centers of Kamu, Kibanda, Samazi, Bunalwele, Nabbongo and Buwanyanga.
As a visionary, mentor, focused and hardworking leader she has balanced well her multiple roles of being a leader, wife and mother and living as part of a community. Unlike other woman leaders I have come across, she embodies the belief that one’s life cannot be complete unless you attend to those sectors satisfactorily by fulfilling and meeting their expectations.
Others achievements include; the facilitation of a study tour for farmers in Bulambuli to Rwakitura and India, support to religious institutions, construction of the Muyembe–Bukhalu bridge that eases movement across river Yembe, facilitating a health camp that saw many people tested for various ailments etc tec.
For this and many more that this space did not allow, Hon Irene Muloni should continue the job she knows well.
The writer, Bwayo Geoffrey is a key opinion leader in the Elgon Zone