WHAT TESO INCUMBENTS MUST DO TO RETAIN MP POSITIONS
By Mulengera Reporters
In Teso sub region, the 2021 political fever is on just like for other parts of the country with incumbents doing their all to keep their positions. And yet even those seeking to oust them and come in aren’t napping either. They are each working very hard to ensure the incumbents fall including for the position of Kumi Woman MP whose current occupant the cracking Monica Amoding has lately been tearful after coming under severe political challenge posed by LC5 Chairperson Christine Apolot. And, as Amoding rightly knows, overcoming Apolot won’t be easy given her popularity and large political stature that saw her badly trouncing her male opponents in 2016 to become LC5 Chairperson. She polled 25,082 votes leaving her other competitors to share a combined less than 5000 votes. Having replaced Ismail Orot (now MP for newly created Kanyumu County) who headed Kumi for 15 years, Apolot isn’t a joking subject in any way. She is a tested fighter whose entry into the Woman MP race frightened Amoding to the extent of driving to State House and apologize to President Museveni for antagonizing his interests during the Togikwatako vote of December 2017.
Much as it brings her nearer to retaining the NRM flag, reconciling with Gen Museveni and eating her words over the Togikwatako vote has, in some way, alienated Amoding from sections of her constituents especially the hardcore opposition supporters who she had excited by saying no to “life presidency” as she initially called it.
Ill-fated Amoding, who the hardline opposition supporters have since written off as a traitor, will also have to overcome Teso Affairs Minister Jaff Agnes Akiror who is curiously skipping her birth place Ngora to stand in Kumi because it’s where her chief political strategist Naphtali Ojara, a former Red Pepper journalist, hails from. Being Minister means that, besides leveraging on physical things like agricultural inputs, hoes and iron sheets her Ministry has delivered for reconstruction of the war ravaged households, Akiror can easily mobilize and access other campaign logistics to the total detriment of Amoding who is seeking 3rd term in Parliament. Amoding started out as national female youth MP, a position into which she was replaced by her Makerere law school predecessor Anna Adeke Ebaju in 2016.
This very senior Teso politician, who served as Kumi LC5 Chairperson for 15 years, currently represents Kanyumu County in Kumi district. It was created in 2015/16 and it’s the same seat for which FDC President Patrick Amuriat ran only to get floored by Orot who had strong backing of State House and Gen Museveni who considered POA to be a very poisonous politician wholly sold to Col Kizza Besigye’s defiance politics. Whereas it was easy to overcome POA, Orot (whose Ministerial appointment was blocked because the Parliamentary Committee disputed authenticity of his qualifications) will this time round sweat to circumvent the political challenge posed by wealthy Opolot Okwalinga, a powerful Under Secretary for Gen Jeje Odongo’s Ministry of Internal Affairs. But POA too can’t be ruled out bouncing back to reclaim his MP Seat and he actually already enjoys support and sympathy from fellow Itesots regardless of party affiliation because they want to console him for the demonization he has endured at the hands of a political machinery comprising of the likes of Alice Alaso.
The Ngora Woman MP is among those who are safest of all incumbents in Teso sub region. Having ironically failed to catch Museveni’s eye for ministerial appointment for all these years, Amongi (whose husband Achilles Lubega is also carrying the NRM flag in Makindye West; couple lavishly lives in Munyonyo) has excelled making money as one of Uganda’s representatives in the Pan-African Parliament (PAP). Having overcome the court petition after 2016, Amongi resorted to working for her people while generously investing in them all the dollars she makes from PAP and the Uganda Parliament. She founded the JADEF Foundation, a charity organization through which all her constituency work is channeled.
Besides funding women and youth groups plus sporting tournaments, Amongi bought ambulances for each Sub County in her constituency, something that voters remain very grateful for. For the NRM flag, she faces Olive Asekenye after whom she will have to face off with whoever Amuriat’s FDC fronts. It could be big girl Sarah Epelu or someone else. In the past its Minister Jaff Akiror that would give Jacqueline Amongi sleepless nights but Gen Museveni reconciled them and cajoled Akiror away; creating plenty of breathing space for Amongi who Gen Museveni and JPAM unsuccessfully first fronted for the national female youth MP Seat in 2006 only to be floored by independent candidate Mariam Nalubega during polling exercise that took place in Mukono. That race also had veteran radio personality Desree Barlow among others. This Barlow babe is the wife to disgruntled FDC member Patrick Wakidda and she works in State House under the office for political mobilization. She is officed in the Byabagaire annex next to Kampala Club outside Nakasero State Lodge.
MARIA GORETTE AJILO ELOGA
The Kaberamaido woman MP hails from the same district with current PPS Dr. Kenneth Olusegun Omona and she is completing her first term having come in 2016 when she unexpectedly floored FDC’s Florence Ibi. She is also the biological sister to Mary Amajo who Omona’s PS predecessor Molly Kamukama replaced in 2016. Eloga has been weakened by many factors including being shunned by majority members of Teso Parliament Group who perceive her as proud and unwilling to mingle with them. Without being able to count on such TPG solidarity here and there, Eloga’s reelection was naturally going to be more complicated, a painful scenario she is circumventing by relocating to grab the newly created Kalaki District Woman MP Seat. This split also increases Ibi Florence’s chances to bounce back again.
Despite professing NRM, the Ngora County MP has been very outspoken on the floor of Parliament and at news conferences in Kampala, a thing that has made his electors proud seeing the national visibility and name-recognition their constituency has gained because of him. As such he is secure and considered one of the best-performing TPG MPs though he will have to successfully fight off a formidable challenge from FDC’s Bernard Euwum who is the incumbent LC5 Chairman for Ngora district. There is also a UPDF officer who has fronted his K’jong wife to antagonize the vastly popular Aballa.
The former Commissioner at UHRC finally managed to defeat powerful Jessica Alupo in 2016 after the then Education Minister was demonized before the President by the Gen Kale Kayihura machinery as being among those 5th columnist Ministers that were loyal to 2016 Presidential Candidate Amama Mbabazi. Having retreated to the village to do farming while mobilizing for the 2021 reelection, Alupo has since grown into a political colossus that Violet Akurut Adome can’t easily manage to handle. Akurut has always counted on the Usuk MP Peter Ogwang solidarity to overcome soldier Jessica Alupo but the new Ministerial obligations that Gen Museveni imposed on Ogwang have restrained the youthful politician from easily being available for deployment in the anti-Alupo wars.
As the incumbent, Adome has many unfulfilled pledges over which voters are already cursing. There is also growing realization in both Ogwang and Alupo camps that life will politically become easier for both of them the moment they deescalate their Adome-related petty political differences. And left on her own, without the Ogwang machinery, it’s very unlikely Adome will manage surviving the resurging Alupo onslaught. Augustine Otuko, a PA to PPS Kenneth Omona, is another complicating factor in the Katakwi equation. He has always been a key Ogwang rival whose political stress has since been neutralized following the creation of a new constituency curved out of Usuk County. All this naturally diminishes the Ogwang appetite to antagonize Alupo who had to be pressured to keep away from the campaign effort of her protégé Augustine Otuko (whose candidature no longer threatens Ogwang). Reaching out to influential Dan Mulalu is another step Ogwang needs to take to further smoothen his reelection as Usuk County MP.
Here you have two archrivals Musa Ecweru and Woman MP Susan Amero (of the Togikwatako fame) both of them belonging to NRM and are long-serving incumbents. They hail from the same Sub County and slight de-escalation of their decades-old intrigue would further amplify the duo’s reelection bids for 2021. Having recently driven to State House where she went on her knees to secure Museveni’s forgiveness for obstructing his interests during the Togikwatako vote, Amero must be able to more easily cow her would-be opponents even within NRM primaries. In Kapelebyong County, still in Amuria district, UPC’s Julius Oceng will struggle to get reelected as incumbent MP. Why? Voters are unhappy the once very outspoken NRM critic hasn’t been able to shine to the levels they anticipated while sending him back to Parliament in 2016. And Johnson Malinga, the former MP who has been sheltering at Education Service Commission for all these years, is at hand to take advantage of the situation to grab the Seat for the ruling NRM.
BISHOP PATRICK OKABE
Besides being Chairman for TPG, this Impact Ministries Pastor also represents Serere County whose electors are renowned for giving only one term so that others too can come in and eat. He replaced Steven Ochola who was MP before but lost plenty of time in Court after the UPC competitor used the High Court to get him out on grounds of inadequate academic qualifications only to be saved by the Court of Appeal which those days was under the firm grip of DCJ Steven Kavuma who many despised for being a cadre judge for the ruling NRM. Philip Oucur, a young man gainfully employed with Pepsi/Crown Beverages Company in Nakawa, has lately been giving Okabe sleepless nights.
Riding on the anger voters generated as they protested Okabe’s invisibility in the constituency as he battled the Court case, Oucur has covered plenty of ground and is predicted to floor the ill-fated man of God in the ruling NRM primaries. Oucur has loads of cash and recently unveiled his palatial house in the Constituency, a development that emboldened his supporters to work even harder. A paranoid Okabe has lately resorted to blaming fellow big-name NRM cadres elsewhere in Teso for being the invisible hand behind the very menacing Oucur candidature. The Okabe reelection campaign machinery cracked even more when efforts to fallaciously brand the high-flying Oucur a People Power agent (so that the diehard NRMs shun him) failed.
He has been Kasilo County MP for an eternity and this too is in Serere District. His reelection troubles began when FDC Serere district chairman David Otala refused to clear his wish to seek reelection on the FDC ticket insisting that he brings written clearance from party headquarters in Najjanankumbi. Okupa, who had sent his PA to pick the EOI forms from the party offices in Serere, couldn’t believe Otala (whose toughness is likened to that of Kasese’s Saulo Matte) having guts to firmly stand up to him. Otala insisted that as far as he is concerned Okupa hadn’t been remitting the monthly Shs500,000 to the party and preferred that he gets nationally cleared first before the local party branch can once again recognize him as one of them.
Otala told Mulengera News recently that Okupa took this claim to be an act of defamation and got his Kampala-based lawyers to write to him a notice of intention to sue threatening to drag him to court for defamation. “He wrote to me very threatening letters saying he was going to sue me personally and not as FDC for defaming him on non-remittance of party money,” Otala says adding that it was after that rejection that the State-owned New Vision published a (what he calls a false) story listing Okupa among the distraught MPs who had walked out on the FDC party. “Nothing could be further from the truth because you don’t call that walking away because the moment we the local branch rejected his application, that meant end of the road for his politics in the FDC because there is no way the SG can recommend your nomination at the EC to carry the FDC flag when your district executive has objected and that’s what happened. We aren’t bothered with that false publicity he enjoyed in New Vision. We are waiting for him as an independent because actually FDC is still very strong in Serere and voters want to punish those who have been demonizing our new party president POA,” Otala says adding that failing to warm up to POA is one of the many factors going to cost Okupa against whom the FDC has already fronted James Emigu.
Yet Okupa, who has been MP for 20 years now, faces more political troubles away from the FDC party he co-founded with others in 2006. From the ruling NRM side he faces Kampala-based banker George Owanyi and Ofwono Opondo’s Media Center predecessor Fred Opolot. Without the FDC backing, Okupa will struggle to find start up political capital because even members of Alice Alaso’s ANT party are lukewarm towards him and paranoid about his opposition loyalty. They keep referencing on his perceived political closeness to Rebecca Kadaga and even ex-IGP Kale Kayihura. In fact, some NRM supporters in Serere find him more agreeable than even the George Owanyis of this world.
She is the fisheries Minister besides being the Woman MP Serere district. She (in 2016) replaced strong opposition figure Alice Alaso with whom she had unsuccessfully competed in 2011. In 2006 when Serere was still part of Soroti, Adoa was among the influential women leaders in the community who supported Alaso having done the same even in 2001 when things still relied on individual merit. In 2016, Alaso didn’t easily let her go. She petitioned High Court Soroti challenging her election. She accused her of bribery evidence being the ambulance she bought for the community during the campaigning period. Soroti High Court had overturned the victory only for the same to be restored by Court of Appeal where Alaso was represented by Wandera Ogaro’s Victoria Legal Advocates. Kiwanuka Kiryowa, who is one of first family/Museveni’s lawyers, represented Adoa. Alaso had to pay court costs of Shs59m whose recovery the lawyers insisted upon as the much-tormented and exhausted Adoa didn’t have a penny as of that time to pay them. Some of the Alaso key supporters grew more resentful towards Adoa having been deceptively told she was demanding for Shs500m in court costs and damages.
Naturally Adoa, who President Museveni greatly appreciated for finally enabling him to overcome Alaso, is still interested in being Serere Woman MP though Alaso too is back to carry the ANT ticket despite hostilities from among diehard FDC supporters in Serere who accuse her of extreme betrayal. There is also Susan Irene Akiror who continues to be perceived as a proxy candidate for political actors and senior ruling NRM cadres in Teso who are uncomfortable seeing Adoa as a rising political star in the sub region. Her posting as Fisheries Minister, just in her first term, frightened many fellow senior cadres who fear that on securing reelection (further keeping Alaso at bay), Adoa will appease Gen Museveni and cajole him to make her full cabinet minister. In fact, Sate House sources say she could have been posted Minister as early as 2016 but Gen Museveni avoided her because of the vulnerability the Alaso election petition occasioned on her. Similar court circumstances prevented Peter Sematimba from scooping Ministerial posting as Busiro South MP.
Leveraging on her large heart, personal finances and clout that comes with being a Minister, Adoa has been able to deliver tangible things for her electors in such a short time that her predecessors could only fantasize about. She has strengthened her social services delivery programs in especially education and health whereby her scholarship scheme hasn’t only carried on but has also been expanded benefiting more children from vulnerable families. Using the ministerial leverage, she has lobbied for the number of health center IIs & IIIs to be increased in the district with many others being elevated. They have each been equipped with thermometer guns which are very essential for screening purposes during this Coronavirus pandemic period.
Yet that isn’t all. Adoa has spearheaded increased cervical cancer screening programs, a thing that has enabled many poor mothers to know their status early and go for necessary life-saving interventions. She is doing this with some NGOs whose support has also resulted into more Serere residents accessing free vaccination against hepatitis B, a very big problem for the community that at some point claimed 5 lives a day in Serere district alone. Her NGOs-enabled sensitization programs have enabled more than 10,000 women/mothers to access screening services for cervix cancer.
Currently, because of her personal efforts, Serere district has Teso sub region’s largest number of cervix cancer screened and Hepatitis B vaccinated people. She has supported agricultural communities on top of youth and women groups which is why there is an Adoa-supported project in every village of Serere. Socially she has also stood with her people during bereavement whenever one loses a close relative. Burial expenses is a very big problem for many economically-deprived families in rural Teso and yet that is one area where Adoa has made a huge difference. Her constituency office coordinates a program that ensures the bereaved freely access the 5000 plastic chairs she bought for the constituency and the two community service vehicles she procured for the constituency to facilitate those travelling for burial, weddings and other public functions from one part of the constituency to another. Community members only buy fuel as the Adoa office meets the driver’s and maintenance expenses.
Even at MAAIF/Fisheries where Gen Museveni hadn’t posted a Minister since the Ruth Nankabirwa’s departure, Adoa has moved mountains. Having made it clear to her PS that she doesn’t like being an armchair Minister, Adoa has been in the field most of the time seeking to deepen understanding of the sector which she politically has been in charge of for just 6 months. Leveraging on partnerships with the CDF, Defense Minister and Ministries of Water, Environment and Transport/Works, Adoa has reached out to community, religious and local government leaders calling on them to participate in sensitizing communities against illegal and bad fishing practices.
She has also persuaded the UPDF to reduce on the violent enforcement operations in favor of community engagements involving all stakeholders. She has had familiarization tours in all districts having fishing communities and been to all Uganda’s major lakes except Albert which the MAAIF teams haven’t visited for community meetings because of the COVID19-related lockdown that has been in force since March. She has visited landing sites and picked useful feedback information on which the army leadership has relied to ensure no soldiers ever get deployed to overstay on one landing site anymore as that was causing them to be compromised to become part of the problem. These days the CDF has insisted the deployments should be rotational as frequently as possible so that officers don’t overstay in one landing site; something that would make them susceptible to being compromised by wrong elements wanting to harvest premature fish from the lakes. Those in the know won’t be surprised if a grateful Museveni posts Adoa to a more lucrative Ministerial deployment after 2021 elections. It’s the reason fellow senior ruling party cadres in Teso are more frightened of her than they are even scared of threats from opposition groups that are determined to ride on the POA FDC presidency to occasion significant political rejuvenation into Teso sub region.
The Adoa apparent political strength has, however, not cowed ANT big lady Alice Alaso who is working had with her nephew Tukei to mobilize and raise the necessary resources ahead of the EC nominations. Alaso recently addressed mourners at the burial of the archdeacon in Serere and sounded confident of victory prompting some of her diehard supporters to begin bragging that their candidate would certainly bounce back having used the ANT platform to build significant rapport with EC bosses in Kampala among other strengths. Renowned for her eloquence, Alaso actually told the gathering: “I have already won this election and I’m only waiting for the swearing in ceremony.”
There are rumors that the Tukei active fundraising efforts have created the impression that Alaso’s campaign budget for the first campaigning month will be over Shs250m. The Alaso supporters are also optimistic that some senior and influential NRM figures will weight in including one that has promised to sort out the security deployments in the district on the eve of the Election Day. But critics, especially those from FDC party, have also vowed to ensure Alaso fails. They want her punished for refusing to warm up to POA who is a fellow senior leader from Teso. In fact, to such FDC diehards, Alaso is more dangerous and unacceptable than even Adoa. Some of them are wondering why Alaso doesn’t take her seniority to places like Arusha where she can appropriately represent Uganda as one of the country’s 9 EALA representatives. Besides Alaso, Susan Irene Akiror (a UPDF soldier) is another contender for the Serere woman MP Seat and one of her selling points is the fact that Sister Akiror, who works with State House’s Health Monitoring Unit, is her biological sister.
BUKEDEA DISTRICT RACE
Bordering Mbale, fairly urbane Bukedea has three MPs namely Anita Among (woman MP), Patrick Opolot Isiagi (Kacumbala County) and JB Ikojo of Bukedea County. They are all NRM incumbents and with a lot of appetite for reelection. In Kacumbala, Isiagi faces a huge mountain to climb because Steven Omagor, the accountant he narrowly defeated in 2016, is back to the trenches. Omagor’s starting point is the community sympathy he still enjoys because of the controversial political circumstances under which his elderly mother was brutally murdered in the week of 2016 elections. He was so distraught, he even abandoned his plans to challenge Isiagi’s victory in court.
Voters are sympathetic that the very eloquent Omagor not only lost his mother but also had his businesses targeted with URA coming in with curious tax claims. The offices for his accounting business are located along Jinja road near Victoria University in Kampala and they were raided by URA several times in a fashion his supporters perceived to be politically motivated to just cripple him permanently. The 56-year old Omagor must also be motivated by the fact that Isiagi’s father is a very principled old man who never elects his own son. The old man, who remains UPC, was Deputy Minister in Obote administration and has remained very contemptuous of the NRM up to this day. The old man is politically a very influential opinion leader with a huge residence in the hills of Kacumbala. Each time Omagor speaks to his electors in Kacumbala, they spontaneously shed tears as they remember the brutal murder of his elderly mum and all this is indicative of the fact that community members could kill him with votes come 2021. There is also the youthful Tom Okello of the Teso Welfare Association Uganda who is equally out to neutralize Patrick Isiagi.
That doesn’t mean Isiagi hasn’t delivered great things for his people. He has done so many of them including delivering piped water under an in the intervention code-named “Opolot Water.” He has also positively impacted on the road network still using personal money. For he has never been a poor man having previously served as Accountant and Finance Manager for Mulago Hospital and FUFA Uganda Ltd. He also served as an accountant for the Ministry of East African Affairs. In Bukedea County, JB Ikoja who in 2016 won with over 80% of the vote faces George Ekuma for the NRM flag. There is also Peterson Omoding who works with Blue Wave water in Luzira as an accountant.
The incumbent Bukedea Woman MP previously belonged to FDC before offering to run as an independent candidate in 2016. She had been contesting since 2008 when the district had just been created and losing to the powerful Rose Akol who has remained very influential in the Bukedea politics long after relocating to EALA where Gen Museveni recently supported her to replace Mukasa Mbidde as EALA Commissioner. In doing all this, Gen Museveni was trying to cajole Akol not to bounce back to fight for the Bukedea Woman MP Seat. Among, who hails from Kolir Sub County with some roots in Bukedea Sub County too, has used her very outgoing personality to create strong political partnerships within the ruling NRM and thereby distinguishing herself as a very influential power broker at Gen Museveni’s palace. Some of the recently appointed Ministers (now in office for 6 months) credit their appointment on her lobbying skills.
Yet all that clout hasn’t placated Among from facing serious challengers for the NRM flag. One of them is Josephine Malinga, daughter to Maj Kupa Malinga. The Malingas are a very powerful family in Kacumbala where Among will struggle to overcome Josephine because Kacumbala residents tend to vote as a block. Josephine’s dad also has a home in Bukedea Town Council, something from which she is deriving additional political capital. The truth is that, notwithstanding the President’s efforts, Rose Akol hasn’t fully reconciled with Among and yet the block vote coming from her native Marera Sub County could be very decisive on who eventually wins both NRM and general elections.
Sources say that whoever Akol blesses will sweep Marera and its very unlikely that lucky person will ever be Among. The political aspirations of Merab Among, a long time PA for Akol, equally complicate things for Among though she originally hails from Kumi and only came to Bukedea for work. That Merab has remained actively hostile to Among is indicative of where her Principal Akol currently stands. Merab enjoys some significant popularity in the district because she loyally served Akol whom people loved for all those years.
Among also faces the LC5 dilemma whereby the incumbent district Chairman Moses Olemkan and Soroti RDC William Otukei, who wants his job, are her loyalists and efforts to get them agree haven’t yielded. They each have backing from their home turf with Bukedea County, home to many Sub Counties, being solidly behind Olemukan against William Otukei (recently resigned the RDC job) who anticipates the block vote from his Kacumbala County. Among will have to be extremely neutral in this potentially very polarizing fight or else risk becoming a victim of these politically very complex circumstances that have pushed her two very strong allies vigorously go against each other.
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