The Late Francis Joash Ayume was a renowned lawyer and golfer who, at the time of his death was the Attorney General of Uganda. A well-traveled and respected jurist, Ayume was known in many legal circles across the Commonwealth and beyond.
He went through various schools and institutions of higher learning until he obtained a Law Degree from the University Colleague of Dar-es-Salaam of the then, University of East Africa.
Ayume held various positions in Government as a civil servant including that of Solicitor General during which he was part-time Lecturer at Makerere University Faculty of Law and the Law Development Centre in Kampala.
It was not until 1994 when Ayume developed interest in active politics after retiring from the Civil Service of Uganda that he contested for the Constituent Assembly elections in 1995 as well as the Chairmanship of the Constituent Assembly.
However, in 1996, the people of Koboko sent Ayume to represent them in Parliament, an opportunity that earned him several positions in government.
Early life and Education
The Late Francis Joash Ayume was born on August 18, 1940. He was one of four children born to Late Zakayo Saru and Late Maria Aleti of Amadunga village, Dranya Sub County in Koboko district.
As a boy, and an elder of the four children, Ayume was a very humble and disciplined child at home, who lived an exemplary life. He first went to Nyangilia Primary School in Dranya Sub County, Koboko district and later to Mvara Junior Secondary School in Arua district.
It was at this educational transition period that Ayume lost his father, the Late Zakayo Saru, who had been paying his school fees. However, due to his outstanding academic performance, Ayume’s former primary school teacher at Nyangilia Primary school, the Late Michael Onyale from Terego County in Arua district took him under his wings and started paying for his school fees.
Onyale then transferred Ayume to Busoga College Mwiri and Kings’ College Budo where Ayume had his Ordinary and Advanced levels of secondary education.
After his Advanced level of education, Ayume secured a government scholarship to study at the then University of East Africa where he graduated from the University’s Law school in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.
After his University, Ayume was appointed State Attorney in the Ministry of Justice and later, posted to Gulu as State Attorney in charge of Northern Uganda.
In 1972, Ayume was appointed Director of Public Prosecution and thereafter, in 1977, he was promoted to the post of Solicitor General in the Ministry of Justice.
From 1983 to 1985, Ayume was transferred to be the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister and later appointed Secretary to Electoral Commission, Office of the President.
In 1986 when NRM Government of President Yoweri Museveni came to power, Ayume was transferred back to the Ministry of Justice as Solicitor General until 1994 when he retired from the Civil Service of Uganda.
In 1995, the Late Francis Joash Ayume, who had all his life as a Civil Servant showed his willingness to serve his people as a politician contested for a seat in the Constituent Assembly (CA) where he lost to Haruna Sebi.
Later, the people of Koboko realized the potential of Ayume and requested him to contest in the Parliamentary elections in 1996 which he won with a clear-cut majority.
He was then appointed Minister of Lands, Housing and Physical Planning. In a Cabinet reshuffle of 1997, President Museveni removed Ayume from the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Physical Planning and appointed him the Minister in the Office of the President.
However, in July of the same year, he was elected the Speaker of Parliament of Uganda replacing the Late James Wapakhabulo. He served as Speaker of Parliament up to June 2001.
In July 2001 in his second term of political office, Ayume was appointed Attorney General of Uganda, a position he held until his death on May 16, 2004.
Ayume was a keen golfer and indeed he met his death in Nakasongola district while returning from a golf tournament in Masindi district. He was accorded a State burial at his ancestral home in Amadunga village, Leiko Parish, just in front of Leiko Church of Uganda in Dranya Sub County, Koboko district on May 23, 2004.
Ayume was also an ardent scholar and writer. One of his most successful books; “Criminal Procedure and Law in Uganda,” is to date, being used by Law students and Legal practitioners l throughout East Africa.
Ayume was married to Elizabeth Likimani, and together they had four children: Geoffrey Baiga, Josephine Akulia, Evelyn Anite (not the current Minister of State for Investments) and Charles Apollo.
A year after Ayume’s death, Koboko, formerly a County under Arua district was granted a district status, and immediately, President Museveni appointed and posted his wife, Elizabeth Likimani Ayume to the new district as the Resident District Commissioner (RDC), a position she has held to date.
During his childhood, Ayume was a great footballer, and later turned his interest to golf; especially during his high levels of education and thereafter.
He liked reading novels, newspapers and following news on the radio.
Late Ayume’s history stretches from Robu, a clan in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from where his grandfather Akita married.
Akita got married to Goburuzi, who gave birth to her first son called Aluluwe but commonly referred to as ‘Ayie.’
Ayie was followed by Libo. Unfortunately, as Libo was growing in Amadunga village, he was captured by Turkish slave traders, who locals then commonly referred to as ‘Tuku Tuku’.
Libo was taken by the slave traders to Sudan and never returned back home.
However, after surviving the slave traders, Ayie grew up and got married to Ayite, a woman he got from Adibu clan, also in DRC.
Ayite was later blessed with five children; Soro, Asen Amunye, Ajio, Enyaku and Late Ayume’s father, Zakayo Saru.
Saru married Maria Aleti from Godria Pijoke clan which was by then in Midia Sub County - the current Koboko West Division in Koboko Municipality.
Aleti then produced Late Francis Joash Ayume as her first born; followed by Viola Alomo, whose follower later died at birth. The other siblings of Ayume are Peter Saru and Michael Lumago. Of all the children, it is only Saru and Alomo, who are still alive.
Ayume’s key achievements
No doubt Uganda’s turbulent political history adversely affected the pace of development throughout the country. But Koboko was among the worst areas hit by the phenomenon.
It should be recalled that prior to 1996, the then Koboko County had serious problems of insecurity; the level of health service delivery was very low, and infrastructure such as schools, feeder roads, telecommunications were either in very poor state of disrepair or were nonexistent.
However, a lot was done by Ayume to restore peace in Koboko and the entire West Nile region by way of appealing to the former rebels to return home, and lobbying government to pardon them.
Considerable effort was also put by Ayume in pressing for the release of the prisoners of war from Luzira and Kirinya prisons.
Ayume made much more effort to push for payment of retirement packages of ex-servicemen, which process is still ongoing.
As a result, many of the prisoners of war and those, who voluntarily surrendered were rehabilitated as part of Ayume’s efforts to restore peace in West Nile region.
In the health sector, it was during Ayume’s era that the then Koboko Health Centre was upgraded to Health Sub District (Health Centre IV) with a resident Doctor. His efforts were also directed towards procuring the necessary equipment for the health centre and the construction of a doctor’s house, a theater, tuberculosis (T.B) ward and allocation of the first maternity ambulane for the health facility.
A number of Health Units in Koboko were constructed and rehabilitated through Ayume’s personal efforts by lobbying Government and other development Agencies. These include; Gborokolongo Sub Dispensary in the then Lobule Sub County now Abuku Sub County, Ombokodo Health Centre in Lobule Sub County, Lurujo Dispensary still in Lobule Sub County, Arundre Health Centre and Arundre Maternity Ward.
In education, Ayume equally did a lot in face-lifting school facilities in order to improve the quality of education by pressing government and appealing to donor agencies to support various schools in Koboko.
The schools are; Dricile Primary School, St. Catherine Nursery School, Teremunga Primary School, Leiko Primary School, Nyai Secondary School, St. Charles Lwanga College, student groups from Makerere University, Makerere University Business School, Islamic University in Uganda and many other individual students.
Ayume also lobbied for the extension of Uganda Telecom (UTL) telephone services to Koboko, upgrading Koboko town to Town Council status and the initiation of Koboko town council administration block which has now been named Ayume Memorial Block
Ayume went ahead to lobby for the construction of Uya Bridge in Lobule Sub County, upgrading Manibe-Yoyo-Oraba road, opening Dranya-Gbinika road in Leiko Parish, leveling Teremunga Mission road extension of MTN and CELTEL Cellular phone networks to Koboko and established Koboko FM radio station which was later branded as Spirit Fm Koboko.
He promoted activities of various interest groups such as Koboko United Women’s Association (KUWA), youth groups, persons with disability, ex-servicemen and farmer groups through personal contributions and with assistance from other funding agencies.
Ayume left a mark in Uganda’s history and remains a great inspiration to the current and future generation not only in West Nile but in the whole country.