Gulu University has awarded Archbishop John Baptist Odama a honorary doctorate of Philosophy for his outstanding role in brokering peace and reconciliation in Northern Uganda.
The award was given by the Gulu University Chancellor, Prof Frederick Kayanja, under the “outstanding service to State” of the Honorary Degree Awards policy last Saturday during the university’s 12th graduation ceremony held at Gulu University campus.
Prof Kayanja while addressing guests and graduands, said the award given to Archibishop Odama is an appreciation of the efforts he rendered at the height of the Lord’s Resistance Army Rebels insurgency in Northern Uganda to ensure that peace prevails.
The LRA war led by the elusive rebel leader Joseph Kony that lasted for two decades displaced more than 1.5 million people, tens of thousands lost their lives, children were abducted and recruited as child soldiers and women were raped.
“Archibishop Odama has been an outstanding personality within the society and the world at large, this is the reason we are recognising him,” Prof Kayanja said.
Archibishop Odama who is also the chairperson of Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative [ALPI], however, said he accepted the award on behalf of children, mothers and peace promoters across the globe.
“It’s a great honour for me to be involved in peace keeping since 1999 when I was installed as the Archbishop of Gulu. People are now breathing fresh air because peace prevails in the region but the struggle must not end,” Bishop Odama said.
The 68-year-old bishop applauded the university for the recognition and noted that as peace prevails, the struggle against eradication of poverty, corruption and all forms of violence should be considered.
A total of 1,397 students graduated in various disciplines at the ceremony officiated by the State Minister for Higher Education, Mr John Chrysostom Muyingo, who represented the Education minister, Ms Janet Museveni.
In her message, Ms Musevenis noted a lot of indiscipline cases cropping up across various higher institution of learning but warned that indiscipline of any form will not be accepted.
Ms Museveni also cautioned students against striking and emphasised the need for dialogues to ensure stability at various institutions of learning across the country.
She encouraged the university management and administration to invest more in research and come up with solutions that can benefit the community.
The university also honoured the head of Public Service John Mitala with a degree of the Doctor of Philosophy for his outstanding role as a civil servant in the country.
Archibishop Odama under ALPI, an interfaith organisation actively played significant role with other religious leaders in mediating between the LRA and the Ugandan government between 2006 and 2008 earning him more than 15 awards in recognition for his efforts in finding lasting peace in the region.