Ambassador Julius Onen, the father of Sanyu FM’s veteran presenter Fat Boy (James Onen) is no more. Onen Senior died on Sunday 10th night at Paragon Hospital where he had been admitted. Family sources say Ambassador Onen had just returned from India where he was taken for treatment of unspecified illness.
At the time of his death, the long-serving Ambassador has been Permanent Secretary Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives. The Trade Ministry announced Onen’s passing in a message on its Twitter account:
“With deep sorrow the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives announces the demise of the Permanent Secretary Amb. Julius B. Onen. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” the ministry tweeted on Sunday night.
The deceased has also a Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Board member. He has been widely extolled by senior government officials as well as those who personally knew him from a social perspective.Mourners have applauded the late Ministry of Trade Permanent Secretary Ambassador Julius Baker Onen for “moral clarity” and given him Par Excellence rating in recognition of his outstanding service.
Mr Sam Kutesa, the Foreign Affairs minister, who was his boss as a diplomat, eulogized the late as a one who served his country with maximum dedication that left an indelible mark in Foreign Service.
“He produced the young crop of Ambassadors using his fine-tuned negotiation skills. He will be remembered as a decisive man in policy and administrative issues,” Mr Kutesa said in a statement read for him by his junior Minister Henry Oryem, at the requiem mass at Our Lady of Africa Church, Mbuya yesterday.
“When I walked to Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2004 where he was the Permanent Secretary, he assured me that I will do a fine job. He said having grown up in government, it was an advantage over colleagues,” Mr. Oryem said, adding that among the Acholi community, death is considered “an idiot, damaging and unjust.”
Former Foreign Affairs PS Amb James Mugume who succeeded the late Onen said he was surprised that the fallen diplomat appointed him as his successor.
However, when he moved to Ministry of Trade, he was impressed by how the late started negotiations which have resulted in the mushrooming industries, the recapitalization of Uganda Development Bank, the revival of Co-operative Union and the Buy Uganda, Build Uganda [BUBU] policy.
MS Amelia Kyambadde, the Trade minister, said the deceased mentored her: “when I joined the ministry, as a politician I used to issue directives, talk a lot and did not listen but Amb Onen mentored me and taught me how to never do anything without referring to the law.” Kyambadde said.
Deputy Chief Justice Owiny Dollo, the government representative at the Prayer mass said it is absurd the late Onen died at a time when he had started to help restructure the socio-economic life of Acholi after the insurgency which started in 1960s.
The deceased’s Wife Eunice Onen described her late husband as a hardworking, passionate and creative man who spent his free time with pen and paper writing down ideas..
“He was a straight forward man who never believed in excuses for no work done. If he believed in anything, you would never change his mind,” she said.
Onen,71, will be laid to rest tomorrow in Diima on the Kampala-Gulu highway.