Col Ibrahim Abiriga, the Arua Municipality MP is no more. He was gunned downed by unknown assailants on Friday evening.
His killers were moving on numberless motorcycles and their heads were covered with helmets, reports indicate. He was murdered with is brother, Police said. Abiriga was aged 62.
Many Ugandans took to social media to eulogize the lawmaker that was popularly known as “yellow man” due to his undying love for NRM and President Yoweri Museveni.
Abiriga dressed yellow, drove yellow and slept in yellow; his entire house in Arua was painted with yellow colour.
It is from his trademark dress code that saw him become a comedian of sorts to many Ugandans across the political divide. In summary, Abiriga lived yellow.
“Everything on me has to at least have yellow if it is not fully yellow. The plate I use, the cups, my bed is yellow, house and everything must be yellow,” Abiriga said in an interview with The Independent.
He added: “I have just returned from DR Congo where I landed on very good yellow undergarments so I was forced to buy all the 20 left in the shop.”
He became more popular during the age limit debate where he strongly defended the lifting of the constitutional age limit of 75-years to allow Museveni to qualify to run again in 2021. He was also under the spot for urinating in a public place in broad day light.
What you didn’t know about Abiriga
But there is more to Abiriga. He was the heir and surviving eldest son of his father who had 34 children.
He said he was born at a time when hunger was at its highest hence his name.
“Abiriga means hunger,” he said, “During that time, people survived on sim-sim and groundnuts paste mixed with water.”
The fallen ‘yellow’ lawmaker’s love for his God was unmatched.
“I only believe in the supreme and true God, Allah who created all of us. I am currently married to one wife even when the Quran allows me to marry up to four because I may not be able to satisfy them sexually just like the Quran qualifies it. I don’t want to commit a sin which I can avoid,” Abiriga told The Independent last year. He had 10 children as of last year.
Asked what his idea of perfect happiness was, Abiriga said: “Sparing time to communicate to God; the times I spend praying during the night defines a calm and beautiful day.”
On his greatest fear, he said: “Only God but as for things like bullets or even the most scaring animal like the lion, I am fearless.”
Abiriga said his love for Museveni was a response to a calling by his father Yusuf Abdallah (RIP), a former soldier under the King’s African Rifles (KAR) who fought in World War II.
“My father was a big proponent of President Museveni and he urged us always support him and the NRM,” Abiriga said.
On what or who was the greatest love of his life, he said: “Even my children and wife come after President Museveni who has united all of us.”
Abiriga, a soldier first served in the army of then-Ugandan President Idi Amin Dada at the rank of Staff Sergeant until he was promoted to the rank of Major under NRA and finally colonel in now UPDF.
His father pushed him to drop out of school in senior three at Kabalega SS in Masindi and join the military despite objection from his uncle and protests from him.
“There was no official recruitment then and since he had been a soldier, he maintained that my destination was also in the army,” Abiriga says.
In 1971, Abiriga joined the army but applied to continue with school under the department of education at Grammar Secondary School where he reveals to have completed Ordinary Level. After nine months of training, Abiriga was deployed in the Secret Service at Makindye Military Police in Kampala.
In 2001, President Museveni appointed Abiriga as RDC for Arua. He held the job for 12 years until he was transferred to Yumbe in the same position in 2014. A few months into the position, Abiriga resigned to join elective politics and become an MP.
Asked on which historical figure he most identified with, he said: “Former Uganda president, Field Marshall Idi Amin Dada was a straight forward person and wasn’t sacred of anything. Col Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi is another one and Bishop Angelo Tarantino of the Comboni Missionaries and the first bishop of Arua Diocese; he built most of the schools in West Nile and is remembered for introducing education in the region.”
In real life, Abiriga’s heroes were Bishop Angelo Tarantino, Idi Amin Dada and Muammar Ghaddafi.
His greatest achievement
“When we were chased from Uganda to Sudan and Congo under President Idi Amin regime, I vowed to fight and bring back my people home. I was a 23 Brigade Commander under UNLF and seeing that we successfully resettled back home is a great achievement. I also enjoy the fact that many children can access education in Uganda under the NRM government,” he said.