Kabarole, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The body of the former Governor of the Bank of Uganda Gideon Nkojo is still in the United States and yet to get to the final resting place over unclear circumstances.
Nkojo died in November 2020 in Maryland Virginia after being ill. Family members immediately started arranging for the return of the body back home to its resting place in Mirongo Village, Hakibale Sub County in Kabarole district, in vain.
The body was supposed to have been returned on Tuesday, January 25, but it was postponed to February 15. However, family sources who preferred anonymity said that the return has been pushed to April.
Some family sources and friends whom Uganda Radio Network spoke to are giving conflicting reports on why Nkojo’s body has never been returned. Some say it’s a money issue, while others say it’s a fallout among family members.
An insider in the family says that the World Bank was more than willing to meet the expenses of returning the body, but the deceased’s wife refused. The insider also said that the wife did not want Nkojo’s relatives in the United States to come near him when he was sick, and after he died.
However, a cousin to Nkojo who lives in Fort Portal, who preferred anonymity says that the body was not returned due to the covid-19 restrictions. He adds that they are preparing for his burial, although he was hesitant to reveal when it will take place.
“The body of Gideon is not here because of the covid-19 restrictions. It has nothing to do with money,” the source said.
According to the source, when Nkojo died, President Museveni gave the family 10,000 US Dollars for burial expenses.
The source also says that he is disappointed with the Management of the Bank of Uganda for neglecting the family after the death of Nkojo.
“Article 21 of the 1995 constitution discourages discrimination of any sort in treatment of all Ugandans before the law because we are all equal. Though I’m not aware of the procedure and policy of the Bank of Uganda and how they treat their former employees after death, In my opinion, I think they are supposed to make a follow-up but I’m surprised no one has ever contacted us yet my cousin left his job at the World Bank to come and serve his country ” he added.
At Nkojo’s home in Mirongo, one of the caretakers found at the home says that they are preparing for the burial and are expecting the body next month. The house was also given a facelift. A new coat of paint has been added to the house.
Ben Mutooro who lived at his house in Booma said Nkojo was a lively person down to earth who lived a simple life.
Nkojo served as Central Bank Governor from May 1979 to September 1980, replacing Charles Nyonyintono Kikonyogo’s first brief stint at the helm of the bank. He had been working with the World Bank in Washington DC, USA.
When Yusuf Lule assumed the presidency, he appointed Nkojo Governor, whose service continued into Godfrey Binaisa’s Reign in the 1980s.
According to sources at the time, in April 1979, ministers who included Ephraim Kamuntu for Commerce, Akena p’Ojok (Power), and Anthony Ocaya (Planning) recommended to President Lule to appoint Prof. Mathew Okai as governor.
The President instead chose Nkojo, who took on the task of building the confidence of the international community in the Ugandan economy after eight turbulent years.
It is reported that during that time, a senior politician in Binaisa’s government asked Nkojo to avail the politician with a big amount of money from the bank, promising him a share. He declined the request. The politician kept asking him to take action, and Nkojo decided to resign and relocate to the US.
He is described as one of the most incorruptible Ugandan technocrats, and apparently, this was the main reason his tenure as governor was short-lived. He was re-employed by the World Bank.
Nkojo was also a patron of Engabu Za Tooro, a cultural development group in Fort Portal.
Stephen Rwagweri Atwooki, the Executive Director of Engabu za Tooro, said that they have plans of organizing Gideon Nkojo memorial activities. He says that Nkojo helped the organization to establish cultural programmes which are now thriving up to UNESCO level and the scholarship scheme to educate the talented youth in the Tooro region.
In 2016, the Bank of Uganda was celebrating 50 years of existence and paid tribute to all living and late former governors, however, they could not trace Nkojo whose life was deteriorating in the United States.
A bank official who declined to be named dismissed this report as untrue but admitted that at that moment they could not account for him.
Nkojo was the son of the late Yosiya Nkojo, the former Prime Minister Tooro Kingdom.