13 May 2012

Uganda: Onek, Elected to Office By False Relation

Inside the students guild office at Metropolitan University Business School (MUBS-Nakawa), 27-year-old Junior Onek, the new guild president-elect sits with a rather calm and relaxed look for someone who has just spent one week in office.

He doesn't look like the busy man he has claimed to be since he was elected in office. Onek, who took office as the Forum for Democratic Change flag bearer, beat three other opponents to the big office and like any other politician, he is promising to build bridges where there is no water.

"I am here for the students' problems and to make sure that I solve them because I know how this institution works".

Indeed, Onek should know how the institution works; he has been here for four years. Between 2006 and 2008, he studied for a diploma in Business Administration and when he graduated, he worked as a customer care advisor at MTN. He returned to pursue a degree in the same area two years ago.

Yet, despite this background, Onek wasn't well known and when he expressed interest in the student post, many thought he was son to Internal Affairs Minister Hilary Onek. But he is not. Onek is the seventh born from a family of eight children born to Rose Akumu and James Odta in Lamwo district.

"I respect honourable Onek so much but I didn't want my supporters to think he was my father. It could have been a disadvantage to my campaign," he says.

Regardless, he received many of the votes thanks in no small measure to the support the FDC president Kizza Besigye offered. Before the campaign day, only a handful of students got to know about Besigye's coming and not even the police assigned to the event knew about the move.

The students were simply swept away when Onek stepped up to the pulpit with Besigye who encouraged them to vote for someone who would bring "change" to the institution. And indeed they voted for him and now are waiting on him to deliver his promises.

"I am different from the people who have been here before me, because I know where to go to when I want something done and by the time my regime comes to an end, the students will have seen the difference".

Usually many of the students who get elected to head the guild office go on to continue in the political path but not Onek. "I don't intend to run for any other office after this, be it Member of Parliament; I would prefer to just continue in my line of profession," he says.

One wonders why he sacrificed all to run for office and not want to pursue the career further, "It was a calling to help the students because the problems they are going through are not ending".

Onek also notes that the fact that he could make it through his childhood to university is testament that he can beat almost any challenge.

See, during his primary and secondary days at Padibe Boys Primary School and Kitgum Comprehensive College, Onek recalls that he and his colleagues had to study in classrooms without windows so that they could easily escape Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army.

"That time was really trying, we had to spend most of the nights in the bush so as to be safe from rebels who raided homes at night and we had to send for textbooks from our colleagues in Kampala just to keep up with the syllabus", he explains.

With the situation not getting any better, his parents decided to move him to Lakeside College Luzira for his A-level. "This place has challenges but I and my committee will take them on; if I could survive the insurgence and be here today, then I can definitely turn this situation around".

His steadfast attitude has him even believing that the breakaway from Makerere University and change of name from Makerere University Business School to Metropolitan University Business School won't affect the institution at all.

"It's just a change in name but the services remain the same, which is the important thing, and I don't think we will lose any students because now the institution can make its own decisions without first having to wait for Makerere"

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