INSIDE THE M7-NABANJA R/SHIP THAT IS GETTING COMPLICATED
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By Isaac Wandubile
Knowledgeable sources say that the weekend bust up between Gen Museveni and his Prime Minister Robinah Nabanja (reported here https://mulengeranews.com/furious-m7-blows-up-premier-nabanja-how-did-you-grow-without-being-able-to-listen/) was merely a climax of tensions that have been brewing between the two political giants. That Gen Museveni has lately been increasingly becoming uncomfortable with lack of sophistication, informality and casual approach with which Nabanja is approaching things.
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Two recent incidents illustrate what is being meant by this reference to the Nabanja informality and lack of sophistication. One relates to a Cabinet session during which the Kakumiro Woman MP casually focused Gen Museveni on the need to increase classified funding available to his young brother Salim Saleh. “He is having so many groups going to him seeking financial bailout yet he doesn’t seem to have enough money to cater for all their needs. Kindly find a way to increase on his facilitation to be able to carry on with his meetings,” Nabanja was quoted as telling Gen Museveni who remained indifferent to her request.
And this is how a Cabinet source says about what happened: “We were all left wondering whether Saleh needs to go through anyone when he needs money from his brother. We all felt that our boss [the Prime Minister] was going overboard but out of respect and courtesy, we all kept quiet and left it to the President to handle.” It couldn’t readily be established whether Saleh had sought such help or it was just the Premier being over enthusiastic having previously visited him at his Gulu conclave.
Another incident, exhibiting extreme informality and lack of sophistication, related to the election of UWOPA chairperson (which unites all women in Parliament). In the end, ex-Minister Sarah Opendi (also former Tororo Woman MP) carried the day and got elected to become UWOPA chairperson which is a position of great influence in as far as the conduct of business in the Ugandan Parliament is concerned.
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Because of her assertiveness and independent-mindedness, many people in the establishment believed Gen Museveni wasn’t comfortable having Opendi become the new UWOPA head and worked hard to prevent her but the eloquent Jap legislator proved too popular to be stopped. Opendi is alleged to have fallen out of Gen Museveni’s favor following her refusal to abandon former Speaker Rebecca Kadaga in favor of Jacob Oulanyah even after CEC had decreed it had to be the Omollo County MP.
On being told Opendi was one of the key pillars for the Kadaga vote, Gen Museveni personally rang her and the Tororo Woman MP stood her ground fearlessly telling off the veteran leader she was old enough to know who to elect. She refused to be lectured on how to vote and this hours before the My Kololo gathering where Kadaga bagged close to 200 votes. Sources say that having felt insulted by Opendi’s response, the NRM big man vowed not to retain her in his cabinet and that is how her name was omitted from the cabinet list.
Since first becoming MP in 2011, Opendi had been an effective State Minister of Lands, State Minister at Health and Energy which was her last Cabinet deployment. She has since distinguished herself as an effective back bencher (just like her fellow Jap Ofwono Opondo had predicted) leading a loose coalition of disgruntled fellow NRM back benchers who have lately been more outspoken than even legislators from the opposition.
The new amorphous rebel MPs group Opendi continues to lead has the likes of David Kabanda of Kasambya and in some cases they have given executive harder time than the Mathias Mpuuga-led opposition whose view is that pushing too hard would make them seem indecent and unreasonable in their resentment of the ruling NRM.
Back to Nabanja; days to the UWOPA vote, which Opendi went on to win, the Premier attended a public function which Gen Museveni presided over. As they saw off the big man after the ceremony, Nabanja bent over and told him: “Sir, time has run out for the UWOP elections which the NRM must win as always. It’s something we need to talk about and because it’s urgent please call me and that must be today and not tomorrow. We must quickly workout some winning strategies.”
Some of the members of the President’s entourage who overheard what the Premier was telling Gen Museveni felt this was the very inappropriate way to go about things. They felt the H.E. ought to be addressed more courteously than that. Humble and tolerant as always, Gen Museveni took things easy and never exhibited any resentment but those around him felt the PM ought to have acted and known better. “The OPM is an apex office which is why we expected the Rt. Honorable to have come off more sophisticated than that. We have had to adjust and get used to a lot of those new normal under the new Prime Minister since this is supposed to be the cabinet of the unsophisticated; the fishermen,” sarcastically says a key member of Gen Museveni’s entourage. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us email@example.com).