By Moses Mulondo
Ever since former vice president Prof. Gilbert Balibaseka Bukenya declared in May that he would stand for presidency in 2016, Uganda’s political scene has been awash with mixed reactions, with many people saying the Busiro North MP lacks the political prowess to catapult him into State House.
Aruu County MP Odonga Otto is one of those who believe Prof. Bukenya is a political joker who cannot win the presidency. He said the best alternative to Museveni would be Mugisha Muntu and not Bukenya.
Bukenya, a professor of public health, was vice president from 2003 to 2011. This makes him Uganda’s longest serving vice president.
Speaking to New Vision on Friday, Otto said, “I think Bukenya’s bid is out of personal vendetta. His hands are not clean. He is worse than Museveni. Other than having a dummy of President Museveni, we would rather continue with Museveni.
"He can only be a participant in the race but not a competitor. He cannot even get more than 7%,” Otto declared.
On Prof. Bukenya’s claims that his biggest support is from the north, Otto said, “That is not true. On behalf of leaders from the north, I can assure you he has no support there. If he does not come with armed escorts, he may even be stoned in the north.
"At the time we needed him most in the north, he was quiet and eating and now that he is out of government he is crying loudest.”
Otto cites the CHOGM corruption scandal and the auditor general’s report that implicated Bukenya for causing a loss of sh600m while he was the director of Mulago Hospital.
“That is why I opposed his appointment as vice president in 2003 because he did not deserve to be in that office on the ground of integrity. As a leader, that is why I thought it necessary to come out and warn Ugandans about him,” the outspoken legislator said.
Asked for his comment on Otto’s remarks, Prof. Bukenya said: “Those are words of a non-experienced young politician who does not know where the world is coming from and where it is going. If he thinks that way, let him also contest as a presidential candidate and we see. He has the qualifications to stand for president.
"Why does he always want to follow others? I challenge him to also join the presidential race and we see whether he can even get 1%.”
On Otto’s allegation that he caused a loss of sh600m in Mulago, Bukenya said, “Where is that auditor general’s report? If he has it, let him use it to take me to court. I will not be intimidated by anyone. Whatever comments anyone makes, I will stand for president. Let Otto who is the cleanest also stand.”
On whether he cannot be a serious contender, the former vice president said, “Even Norbert Mao made similar remarks. All those who are like Otto and Mao are wasting time. Mere words are nothing.
"Let them wait and see. I have initiated several projects which have demonstrated my ability to swiftly develop Uganda. If they think they are better candidates, let them also stand and we meet in the race and Ugandans will choose the best.”
He finished off by cautioning politicians who use abusive language: “They should stop using abusive or insulting politics. That is backward politics. I know where I am going and I have already counted the cost. I have reached a point of no return.
"Come rain, come sunshine, I will stand for President”.