‘I have witnessed street children barely two years old being exploited to beg under the scorching sun and felt so low’
Kampala, Uganda | AGNES E NANTABA | Bernard Atiku is the Ayivu County Member of Parliament. Now in his second term, Atiku arrived in parliament in 2011 on the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) ticket. But he fell out with the FDC leadership in Arua and ran on an ‘independent’ ticket in the 2016. He also campaigned for President Yoweri Museveni. Then he made news headlines in 2017 after showering then- Arua Municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga with punches during debates on the controversial age limit bill. At parliament, his legacy project has been the amendment of the Children’s Act. It was signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni recently.
“It had been shelved for years and I struggled with it against the Government’s Bill until mine was proved on grounds of making more sense,” says Atiku, “I am proud to keep a copy that the President assented to.”
Atiku likes to see positivity in adversity. The recent move by the Electoral Commission and leaders of political parties to enact a tough law on independent candidates complicates his re-election in 2021. But Atiku is focusing on the positive in it. He says independents need a law that spells out their issues since they emanate from a constitutional provision.
Atiku says: “The discussion is timely and is good for the democracy of the country.”
“The act would spell out how one participates in a multiparty political system especially basing on the challenges and weakness in the past elections,” says Atiku.
Atiku’s political career was ignited during his last year at Makerere University as a student of Development Studies. In one of the lectures to close off the course, the lecturer urged students to seek nominations in the forthcoming general elections of 2006 because they had been trained as leaders. This possibly did not make sense to many of his peers, but Atiku gave it deep thought.
He says: “They were inspirational and matching orders for anybody like me who had political ambitions.”
The electoral process was in high gear at the time of graduation and as a very active member of Reform Agenda turned FDC, Atiku grabbed the opportunity when political space was opened for multiparty politics. Atiku could not go higher than District Councillor a position that he says enabled him build capacity and understand how systems work.
By 2011 Atiku was ready to contest for MP.
In Ayivu, Atiku prides in improving education in the county with the Ayivu Education Promotion Fund. Through the fund, best performing students are offered scholarships at the different levels of education. The idea is to entice pupils to work hard so that they benefit from the scholarship opportunity.
He also built a constituency office block that he says will be used even beyond his tenure as MP.
Atiku hails from Oyavu village in Adumi Sub County which is among the seven sub-counties that make up Ayivu. He is the second born of nine children of Etoru Rose and Ernest Yuma. He was enrolled at Wandegeya Muslim Primary School where he completed Primary education. He completed Ordinary Level at St Joseph’s College in Ombachi before joining Caltec Academy Makerere for Advanced Level. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Development Studies from Makerere University in 2004. He is married with four children.