Fight the elephant and not the shadow: The real Wani Igga

BY: Justin Ambago Ramba, UK, AUG/26/2011, SSN;

It is true that the recent appointment of Lt. General James Wani Igga to the position of Vice President of the republic of South Sudan has drawn different reactions from South Sudanese all across the ethno-political divide. However at the end of the day, the decision of who serves in a cabinet lies squarely with the ruling party, its leadership and its political structures.

Lt. Gen. James Wani Igga or “Lokonyeke” as he was popularly known to us in Rumbek and in Cairo (Shubra) is undoubtedly a hard working person. He is friendly too and an individual of great experience in life and politics since the days of the Sudanese Socialist Union (SSU) in Rumbek secondary school [1973-1975].

His years with the SPLA/M did the rest to elevate him to where he is now.

Without any wavering in my political opposition to the SPLM party’s visionless and directionless leadership which I consider as a national duty, I would like to register one thing and make it absolutely clear that I hold no personal grudges against any one individual.

After reading the many criticisms for and against Lt. Wani Igga’s ascension to the second powerful office in the country, and without any prejudices, I believe that many of the issues raised cannot even convince a sworn in opposition like me.

For the sake of a better South Sudan, I would want the SPLM party out of power today, and not tomorrow. However I found no rationale in all those criticisms being thrown at Lt. Gen. Wani Igga for not turning down the nomination for vice president when he has no reason to do that.

Those in the SPLM, who wanted the position of Vice President and lost it, will have to swallow the bitter pill that we always swallow when we miss to get something we seriously wanted. Or maybe join ranks in our humble but honorable opposition camps.

And remember, Wani Igga is not Telar Riing. He is a senior SPLM/A member and a Lt. General for that matter, unambitious to become a president and a peaceful man. How often do people get such loyal deputies? This time I bet the President got his choice well. He doesn’t want a hard-timer, and he just got for himself one.

President Kiir will now rule or misrule without any worries of someone stabbing him from behind. How do you like that?

Of course there are all these rhetoric about Lt. Gen. Wani Igga being a coward and a non-serious person. Does anyone buy into that? Do coward people go on to become army generals? Someone please tell me. And even if he were, how comes that president Kiir is not aware to the point that he can only be told by outsiders?

Our people, it is really very unfortunate that the way we do certain things reflects how crude we are. Because if any of these talks against Lt. Gen. Igga were to be true, then it would be true of the same SPLM/A that gave him the very high military rank and political positions of Deputy Chairman and Speaker of the Assembly.

Were those positions by any means meant for cowards or non-serious individuals? Or is the SPLM/A, an institution of cowards and non-serious individuals to have at its helm people who others refer to as cowards and non-serious?

Fellow compatriots, I understand that sometimes people tend to go off their minds when describing political rivals. However take some time out to rethink what you say.

There is no way anyone can describe president Salva Kiir Mayardit, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, Lt. Gen. James Wani Igga, Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin, Justice Peter Sulle, Rev. David Yau Yau or any of those who are now in the centre of South Sudanese politics as cowards and non-serious individuals.

What these people have undertaken and are undertaking at the present moment in time is not a job for cowards and non-serious individuals.

We are all entitled to have our differences with anyone of them for real or perceived reasons. In politics many lines are drawn on the sand and can be redrawn in a different way any time when prevailing circumstances change. It’s not like getting wedded in a Catholic church.

What I expected to hear was something in the line of illegal amassing of wealth, properties or incidences of nepotism, favourtism or frank tribalism if any. But it seems that none amongst the aspirants to the post were free of all that I have just mentioned here. No wonder it was avoided all through by the various critics!

Don’t get me wrong, and I would have liked to believe you only that you are not being truthful. Of course a weak president and a weak vice president at the same time would have sent all the opposition celebrating if you were right. But is this the case in any way? Tell me, am I missing a celebration that I don’t know of?

The true problems of South Sudan now lie squarely in the South Sudan Transitional Constitution 2011 (SSTC2011) popularly known as “John Luk’s Constitution”.

Until we are done with that constitution, and replace it with a sound alternative, all our judgments and criticisms of president Kiir’s decisions will remain things only voiced without causing a real change on the ground.

Ever since this author have been drawing the public’s attention to the “Blackmail Politics” currently in use by president Salva Kiir Mayardit, to get what he wants.

The president is always quick to threaten those who want to see that the right procedures are followed, by reminding them that he can easily fire them – or send them to roam the streets as was the case just a few days ago with the SPLM MPs Caucus group.

Let’s not waste our time and efforts in fruitless attempts. Throwing our spears at the shadow of the elephant, hoping it might cause some damages, is just a wishful thinking at its best. Thus unless we are being superstitious, even a hundred holes in that shadow will never bring the beast down.

Author: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba. He can be reached at:


  1. kikisik says:

    Excellent comments, DR. Ramba!

  2. majongdit says:

    Dr Ramba,
    You surprised me. Today you are very balanced. How you have described Wani Igga is the best I got. I am a strong admirer of Wani Igga. And he never failed me. So when he was appointed VP I really celebrated.
    I am also happy that finally Wani got this time what he rightly deserves. He gave away his position for the sake of peace in 2002. The greater Equatoria had been made to look like underdogs for many years. The line-up that was almost becoming a culture: Dinka – Nuer – and then Equatorian is now altered. It must also have effects in our minds as well that Equatorians can fit anywhere in the line of leadership.
    I know that you are in opposition but that should not make you fall short of saying the truth even if in favour of SPLM.
    Wani Igga is the rigt man in the right place. Let us all rally behind him and give him with the entire govenment led by Salva Kiir Mayardit our support.
    Thank you

    • Raan Naath says:

      The best way to describe James Wani Igga is that he is submissive to his superior or call him a yes man. This is why people think he is weak and un-serious in the sense that he will not advise Kiir against some wrong decision and actions – or call it avoid stabbing his boss at the back. But is that a way a revolutionary should behave? Watching his boss destroying the future of the people with ease?

  3. Lokilachong says:

    Dear Dr. Ambago,

    South Sudan is still in the process of transitioning from miltary dictatorship to democratic system. Many leaders in the south Sudan do not want to be questioned, checked or asked to give account of what they have done. That is what military does, they do not want vetting system and giving accountability, it derailed our development.
    The appointment of Lt General Wani Igga as the VP is a good thing. Wani gave up his position to Riack Macker for the sake of peace after Riak defected to Jalaba and then back to SPLA. Riak poor judgement will haunt him for very long time by shooting his own foot. Wani Igga was blamed for allowing Riak macahar to take his position especially by Equatorians as a cowardice act. But Wani Igga was after peace not power struggle such as that between Dinka and the Nuer. He showed that Equatorians are the core and the backbone of the nation without them peace is impossible.

    Lt. General Wani Igga is the right man for this job because he is a dedicated person, loyal, and patriotic south Sudanese. However as a person, Wani Igga is panacea to south sudanese problems, he has his own shortcomings too. But I am sure Salva Kiir has appointed someone who can serve south Sudan well, at least for now.
    What the VP and the new cabinets need to do is to stabilize the country, good security and combating corruption. Look, we have too many innocent people dying in Juba town allegedly killed by corrupt security personnel. Unless loss of innocent life is safeguarded, many qualified south Sudanese in the diaspora will fear to come home to contribute.

    Dr. Ambago, opposition will alway criticize the goverment but let’s see what solution do they have to help the country. Many of our so-called opposition leaders are in disarray, poorly organized and mainly on tribal lines. After they failed to secure positions, or steal money from the country they run overseas to criticize the government. Yes, we have problem in the county because a fledging country like ours is difficult to built. If Tela Deng can be rejected from joining the cabinet, that is a good thing, it tells us that our country is slowly moving into the right democratic direction. Let’s give time to VP and the new cabinet, if they can do what the other cabinet failed to do then it will be a success. But if they succumb to corruption as their predecessors, then the president need to sack the entire cabinet again until the right people are found to serve the country.

    • GatCharwearbol says:


      Before you rush into baseless conclusion, please take time out to see what the SPLM high command line up was. Dr. Riek did not take Wani Igga’s place as you claim. In fact, Dr. Riek was in his rightful place according to SPLM line up even when he re-united with Dr. Garang for sake of peace. Your claim that Dr. Riek pushed Wani out of his place is baseless and unfounded.

      Do not fall into political rhetoric that many seem to employ here for their ulterior motive. It is best to see things correctly and go with what is true and proven as the complete truth. The SPLM top echelon hierarchy is available for validation and confirmation of your claim. This hierarchy is what has been used as a climbing ladder to the highest position. Salva Kiir was indeed one step up the ladder and Dr. Riek was right behind him. And this has been the norm since. Wani Igga is probably not way behind in the hierarchy but he is in no way up in the ladder than Dr. Riek.

      Please do not take my word for it, but check for yourself.

  4. Ajang Ajang Lino says:

    They say “patience pays but to those who are patient.”

  5. Lokilachong says:

    Dear GatCharwearbol,
    When Riak Machar defected to Jalaba after his massacre of the Dinka, he lost his place in the SPLA leadership. He ran away as a criminal to Khartoum, there he found that he could not sustain staying in the fire but had to return to SPLA. He lost his position by defection and the hierarchy shifted in which Wani Igga moved up into the void.
    If you read my article well, I did not say that Wani Igga pushed Dr. Riak Machar away but “gave up his position for the sake of peace” and it is fact. I do not jump into conclusion as you said but fact need to be told. Mind you, I am not a politician and I support only leadership that promotes unity, peace, and development in south Sudan. You still talk of “probability” that mean you are not sure of what you said, please do check your source of information before writing.
    I’m sure some day you will find it difficult to substantiate your support to Riak Machar, your hero.

    • GatCharwearbol says:

      Dear Lokilachong;

      I do not differ with you in your argument. If Dr. Machar lost his position because he defected in 1991, that is well and good. But why leave out Salva Kiir who had also defected from SPLM in 2004. I know you will deny this, but I know it is the fact. It was Dr. Riek who reconciled Kiir and Dr. John Garang. I would think Wani Igga would be the second man in line if we go according to your reasoning.

      On top of that, Wani Igga does not have seniority over Kuol Manyang Juuk. If you agree with me here, shouldn’t Kuol Manyang move up the ladder as well? Or it is only Wani Igga that is allowed to move up the ladder? For your information, it is not only Kuol Manyang who has seniority over Wani; there are other hosts who are higher in rank than Wani. Therefore, I am lost here when you gentlemen want to place Mr. Igga in third position and bypassing the other well known prominent figures who have seniority over him. How does this work?

      On the other hand, when Dr. Machar re-joined SPLM, you should know that it was two parties emerging. So, it was during emerging process that the agreement was made between the two parties – SSIM and SPLM. As such, the two giants had to make compromises otherwise nothing was going move forward. This is how Dr. Machar ended up in third position.

      Besides, you and your likes keep throwing empty rhetoric that Dr. Machar ran back to SPLM. If you were that sane, you should give credit to Dr. Machar because if he refused to rejoin SPLM, the CPA which resulted into South Sudan independence that we are enjoying today won’t have happened. International Community would have refused to pressure NCP into signing the CPA. So, it was the pressure from the international Community that led him to consider rejoining Dr. John Garang and for the sake of Junubini to have an independence nation. You can believe what you want to believe, but that is the reality you ought to know.

      • John Khot says:

        I know that you are the same guy named Mi diit on Sudantribune commentary, a real zealot who worship Riek Machar like his god. Brother, why don’t you let the man defend himself for the crimes that he committed against the people of South Sudan? Or are you one of his sons? Why isn’t his son who is married to that white whore defending him? He is much informed about his murderous father than you, and I have never seen an article by him on defense of his dad. Don’t you have a life, brother, such that you waste hours everyday reading and responding to every attack on Riek?

        There is nothing you can do to alter the views of Riek haters and that is a fact. Your leader didn’t merge with the mainstream SPLA/M under John Garang but surrendered after fleeing from Khartoum to Germany. Riek Machar left from Khartoum in fear of his life after Bol Kong and other senior officers of his movement defected from SAF. He didn’t abandon jalaba in protest of violation of KPA but rather concerns of his own safety after being betrayed by Bol Kong and his men. What a shame!!!

        Please do more research about your leader and I can assure you that you’ll be shocked of dreadful past. To me and millions of others, Riek Machar is a pure evil (jong-rac/ shetan). So, stop bugging others about him.

        • John Khot,

          I just wanted to remind you that Wani Igga, was promoted in affirmative action. In fact, Wani was behind Kuol Manyang and Wet Akot in the SPLM seniority because all highest SPLM commanders were Nuer and Dinka. Wani Igga was promoted because he was the only senior Equatoria commander in the SPLA and junior and weak commander in the SPLA.
          To prove to you, from 1990 until 2005, Kuol Manyang was zonal commander for Eastern Equatoria and John Koang was zonal commander for Central and Western Equatoria. Where was Wani Igga’s position?

          Second, in 1987, Dr. Garang asked all the zonal commanders to recruit boys. Wet Akot was supposed to recruit only 20,000 boys from Bar-EL-Gal, but he recruited 30,000 boys. Dr. Machar was going to recruited 20,000 boys, but he eventually recruited 30,000 boys from Bentiu, and Kuol Manyang recruited 10,000 boys from Bor only. Wani Igga recruited 00000000000000000 boys from Greater Equatoria.

          If Wani Igga was a strong leader and had respect for Dr. Garang, then why he did not recruit Equatorian Boys when Dr. Garang asked all the zonal commanders to recruit boys from their areas?

          Please stop spreading lies to public media that Wani Igga gave his position to Dr. Machar. In fact, if Riek had not to return to his position, it would have been Kuol Manyang’s position.

  6. Leader says:

    It is true that Riek was senior to Wani before he defected in 1991. But when he left, Wani climbed to the third position. So Wani must be commended for ceding his rightful position to the defector, (the prodigal son like it was in the Bible).

    • GatCharwearbol says:

      I unreservedly understand your argument. What you are saying is that since Dr. Riek defected in 1991, he had lost his position as a result. If that is what you are saying, you are absolutely correct. But shouldn’t we argue the same to Salva Kiir as well who rebelled in 2004 against the SPLM? I thought it was Dr. Machar who reconciled him and Dr. John Garang.

      For that reason, I would argue that Wani Igga should have been the second most powerful man. He would have assumed the second position to Dr. Garang since Kiir became a defector like Dr. Machar. Wani Igga would actually be our President at the moment after the untimely death of Dr. John Garang. Kiir and Machar should have assumed the last two rungs of the SPLM political ladder. Won’t this make sense to you?

      In fact, if we go by your logic, both Kiir and Machar should have been pushed out of political arena. But it is not how things work in the mother-SPLM. If things were done rightly, you would have a point.

      • Dan says:


        Are you sure Salva Kiir rebelled in 2004 against the SPLM/A? If so, what was the name of his rebel Faction? And what was the main reason for defection? I am sure you are just looking for something to anchor yourself after being showered with absolute truths by our two SSN’s commentators , Loikichong and Leader.

        • GatCharwearbol says:


          You do not have to form a rebel faction if you defected. You can choose to go back to your Luak or command a nameless faction. He accused Dr. John Garang of running the government solely and carrying it in his briefcase if he travels overseas. Reading between the lines, he was hinting that Dr. Garang was a dictator. This is the reason of his defection. I hope you find this answers your questions.

  7. Yango says:

    I personally disagree with the notion that top leadership position should be gained through hierarchy. This type of leadership is old fashioned. I think South Sudanese should be the right people to choose who they think can lead them.

  8. GatCharwearbol says:

    Mr. Yango,

    I wholeheartedly agree with you. In democratic nation, citizens choose who they want to run their affairs and it is what we long for here. Unfortunately, we are far behind to exercising that right. I hope you have witnessed that for yourself instead of hearing it from me. Kiir has taken the laws of the land into his own hands and he is now well-known as a dictator.

    But giving up is not an opinion, we must fight under one umbrella and reclaim our right of choosing who we want to be our President instead of following the outdated hierarchy format. This is guerilla system and it must come to an end.

  9. Mack says:


    That is a sheer lie to say that Salva Kiir defected in 2004. Defected to where and who? What was the name of his movement? The truth known to the whole world was his disagreement and fallout with Dr. Garang about the way he was running the movement and changes he initiated without consultations with the leadership and conspiracy to arrest him.

    Read Rumbek Minutes and you will find that nowhere it appears Salva defected.

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