ARUA. The fulfillment of Shs 350m Presidential pledge to Arua mother city savings and credit cooperative organization (SACCO) is hanging in balance following the death of Col. Ibrahim Abiriga, the former Arua Municipality Member of Parliament (MP), the SACCO officials have said.

Mr Matata Asiku, the chairman of Arua mother city SACCO said Abiriga died while following up on the pledge made by President Yoweri Museveni in 2017.

“It was in 2017 when our MP Abiriga led us to State House Entebbe where President Museveni promised to support our SACCO with Shs350m. The President asked Abiriga to follow up on the matter but unfortunately, he was killed before getting for us the money,” Asiku said during a preparatory meeting for the launch of the SACCO at its head office in River Oli Division, Arua Municipality on Tuesday.

Abiriga was gunned down by unknown assailants near his home at Kawanda in Wakiso district on June 8, 2018.

According to Asiku, since Abiriga’s demise, they have not yet found anybody to remind the President about the pledge thus making it difficult for them to get the money to support the SACCO.

Arua mother city SACCO, a financial institution affiliated to NRM pressure groups in West Nile has savings of about Shs180m of which members are entitled to borrow up to shs5m at an annual interest rate of 10 per cent.

“Abiriga used to be so supportive of us. He is the man who used to always unite us through our umbrella SACCO but his death has done us bad because he was the one following up the issue of the pledge personally,” Asiku stressed.

He said the SACCO leadership has now decided to honour Abiriga during the launch of the SACCO on Saturday this week because of his contribution towards the development of the association.

Similarly, Mr Swali Atama, the treasurer of Arua mother city SACCO who doubles as its Director observed that the launch of the SACCO will attract over 1000 members from the 40 groups affiliated to it across the region.

Mr Atama 11 09 19Mr Atama stresses a point to some of the SACCO members during the preparatory meeting on Tuesday. PHOTO BY ANDREW COHEN AMVESI

He said they have so far earmarked Shs10m for the grand launch of the SACCO with Gen. Salim Saleh expected to preside over the function which will start with prayers for the late Ibrahim Abiriga.

Atama added that they will also use the opportunity to remind the President about the pledge through Saleh so as to empower the SACCO members to grow in their various businesses with the aim of improving their living conditions.

“Women are now on lorries going to markets to buy produce courtesy of Arua mother city SACCO. The money we borrow from the SACCO has helped us to change our lives by supporting our families and paying our children’s school fees,” Ms Jane Aliru, a member of Arua mother city SACCO said.

Ms Aliru 11 09 19Ms Aliru speaking to some of the SACCO members who turned up for the preparatory meeting in Arua town on Tuesday. PHOTO BY ANDREW COHEN AMVESI

Aliru observed that before the SACCO gave them the opportunity to borrow money at a lower interest rate, loan officers from other financial institutions used to run after women with many crossing over to South Sudan and DR Congo after defaulting, an act that led to cases of family breakups and suffering in many families.