The incoming Chairperson of Teso Cooperative Union(TCU) has called for an end to bickering and infighting among cooperatives, arguing that only through unity can cooperatives deliver on the mission of their founding.
Etoori was speaking after being elected the new Board Chairperson of Teso Cooperative Union on Friday last week, at the Union’s extra-ordinary General Meeting presided over by the Senior Commercial Officer in the Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives Joseph Ocaatum, who represented the registrar of cooperatives, William Kitandwe.
Others elected to the 10-member board include district nominees Moses Eladu from Soroti, Hellen Aanyu Aujo from Ngora, Maria Kimbo from Bukedea, Ignatius Ilekit from Katakwi, Anna Grace Asako from Kumi, and Alex Okwii Okello from Amuria. Mr. John Enudu and Anthony Eteku were also elected nominees from Kaberamaido and Serere respectively.
In a move to strengthen checks and balances within the union, the assembly also chose to elect a union supervisory committee for which former Soroti District Vice Chairman John Darlington Aloki was elected as chairperson, with Theresa Ochilaje and Hellen Amuso as members.
In his acceptance speech, Etoori called upon all cooperatives’ stakeholders in Teso-sub region to join him in rallying the local population to organize themselves in cooperatives, arguing that cooperatives have historically played an important role in sustaining the livelihoods of the people of Teso.
“Let’s come together and develop our union. The district commercial officers across Teso sub region should now come closer and sensitize the people on the benefits of being in cooperatives” Etoori said.
On his part, Ocaatum challenged Teso Cooperative Union members to unflinchingly hold the new executive to account, noting that only with sustained vigilance from the members can the board effectively play its oversight function over the running of the union’s affairs.
He particularly called upon the lower primary member societies of the union across Teso sub region to regularly hold Annual General Meetings to update members about the health of their societies, and challenged them to have a gender sensitivity in the election of their management and board committees.
Julius Ocen, the Kapelebyong county Member of Parliament who gave a key-note presentation at the assembly re-echoed Mr. Etoori’s remarks, arguing that the role of cooperatives in Teso Sub-region cannot be over-estimated.
“The current wealth in Teso was generated through cotton growing under the Teso Cooperative Union, before it was ruined by successive wars, cattle rustling by the Karimojong, among the other conflicts that have affected our region,” he said.
He urged the new board to prioritize the rehabilitation of Arapai and Kyere ginneries to enable the union resume processing and cotton ginning, which he says had served it well and was responsible for its (defunct) “glory days.”
“In the past, our parents managed to take care of their families and educate children through their cotton businesses, but now we are facing difficulties because we don’t have where to make money from,” Ocen said.
Teso Cooperative Union is among the unions earmarked for government compensation for the losses of assets during the insurgency years. A government verification team verified TCU’s claims to the tune of shs.16billion, of which the union is set to receive shs.1.6 billion as a first installment.