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Fox Odoi eyes West Budama North as Oketta dares Ocula in Kilak county

By Vision Reporter

Added 22nd January 2010 03:00 AM

The election year, 2011, is around the corner. Incumbents will struggle to retain their seats while many others will vie to replace them. The contests will cut across; from president, parliamentary constituencies and local government. As the temperatures begin to rise, Saturday Vision puts a baromet

The election year, 2011, is around the corner. Incumbents will struggle to retain their seats while many others will vie to replace them. The contests will cut across; from president, parliamentary constituencies and local government. As the temperatures begin to rise, Saturday Vision puts a barometer on the political climate; analysing the aspirants and the issues that are likely to influence voter choices.

West Budama North, TORORO
The contest for West Budama North MP seat has so far attracted seven people.

They include the incumbent, William Oketcho, former presidential assistant on legal affairs, Fox Odoi, former labour state minister Henry Obbo Ojung, Kenneth Oringo, Peter Jawange, David Alira Opii and Joseph Ochieno.

There are also rumours that Makerere University Academic Staff Association chairman Tanga Odoi declined a prodding from the President that he contests for the seat. Moses Byaruhanga was reportedly the emissary who delivered the message from the high office. Tanga, who has been instrumental in preventing the split of Tororo to create Mukuju and Kisoko districts, is understood to have told the president that his sights are on either the post of Makerere University Vice-Chancellor or Academic Registrar.

Tanga gained popularity after his spirited campaign against splitting of Tororo district.

UK-based Ochieno is a Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) stalwart. Jawange and Oringo will contest as independents, while David Alira Opii, a lecturer at Uganda Christian University Mukono, is the secretary general of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).

Jawange, 33, is the youngest contestant. He is pursuing a degree in agriculture at Makerere University and says he wants to get rid of the old guard.

The byelection to fill the post of Budiope MP in Kamuli district was flagged off by the district returning officer, Samuel Kiyingi.

Five candidates are vying for the post following the tragic death of former MP Henry Balikowa in a motor accident last November.

The contestants are; Dominic Wakabi, Sulaimani Kirunda Balyejusa, Moses Bigirwa, Mustafa Kalwaza and Ahmed Shaban Mugweri Abdurahim.

Born in Budoola in Bugaya sub-county, DP’s Bigirwa came to the limelight when he contested for the post of the DP deputy secretary for youth in Kamuli district and announced his intentions to lead Budiope. He at one time clashed with Kamuli RDC Haji Asadu Lutale during a candidates’ meeting, claiming the RDC favoured NRM candidate Sulaiman Kirunda.

Bigirwa said Budiope has been poorly represented in Parliament and his party DP, does not tolerate corruption.

Bigirwa hopes to win big in Bugaya, Kagulu and Buyende sub-counties.

FDC’s Dominic Wakabi is not bothered that the NRM is more popular in rural areas like Budiope. He affirms that while an NRM MP could work easily with the Government, an opposition MP would be in a better position to demand for services and accountability.

Wakabi predicted a 70% win from Kidera, Nkondo and Buyende sub-counties.

Ahmed Shaban Mugweri, the self-styled ‘Obama of Budiope’ hails from Ndulya in Buyende sub-county. He rose to the limelight after he was elected chairman of Busoga Youth Forum and the vice-chairperson of the NRM Youth League in Busoga. He did not contest in the NRM primaries, citing irregularities and is contesting as an Independent candidate. “I come as a redeemer, the primaries were marred with irregularities worth challenging,” he remarked.

Mugweri promises to convince donors to improve the physical infrastructure and social wellbeing of Budiope. Last week, he asked his fellow candidates to withdraw from the race, warning them of a landslide victory in his favour.

He, however, faces the challenge of establishing himself as voters have labeled him a new comer in the political arena.

Mustafa Kalwaza, a member of the Uganda Senior Mobilisers Association (USEMA) which campaigns for President Museveni, joined politics in 2005. In 2006, he challenged the late Balikoowa in the primaries and lost. He then stood as an independent candidate but lost again.

In the most recent primaries, Kalwaza came fourth. However, he has again defied his party NRM and chosen to stand as an Independent.

He faces the challenge of convincing voters that he is not a political failure and has to explain why he defies the party’s standing orders and contests as an Independent after failing the first hurdle.

Sulaimani Kirunda Balyejusa is a former employee of Uganda Revenue Authority. He was elected as the NRM flag bearer and has gained momentum as party bigwigs like the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga and senior presidential advisor Moses Kizige are now campaigning for him.

His election will prove Budiope appreciates the physical structures like the fish and ice plants at Bukungu landing site established by the Government.

The byelections are slated for January 25.

IN 1994, Victoria Sekitoleko, who was Butembe county’s Constituent Assembly (CA) delegate took up a UN posting and paved the way for a takeover by former IGG Faith Mwondha as area MP.

Mwondha, incumbent MP Daudi Migereko and John Banalya, who was an aide to Sekitoleko, were all involved in the electoral struggle to represent Butembe.

After the initial Mwondha win, Migereko reorganised and worked with Banalya as chief strategist to defeat her in 1996.

Later in 2001, Lt. Hannington Basakana, the Jinja district chairman, tussled it out with Migereko, who was the NRM party flag bearer. Basakana did not resurface in 2006 leaving, the battle to be between Migereko and Grace Kiirya Wanzala.

But as the 2011 polls draw nearer, Basakana and Banalya have expressed interest in unseating the NRM Government chief whip. Wanzala has not spoken out yet and otheres are expected to join the race later.

Out of his somewhat busy schedule as minister, MP and NRM official, Migereko gets time to consult his electorate on key national issues. As energy minister, he ensured that his constituency benefited from the rural electrification programme. A number of hitherto idle youths have got casual jobs in Government projects in the region in his struggle to reduce poverty levels. He has also spearheaded several fundraising drives for associations and schools.

However, some constituents think Migereko has stayed in office for too long and would prefer a change. “He has been around for over 10 years. Let him show us what he has done for us in physical terms,” Frederick Munaaba, a resident, commented.

Basakana also insists that the minister has out-stayed his usefulness as Butembe MP, saying: “He has done his part. Let others pick up from there.”

Basakana’s entry into the Butembe race has put him at loggerheads with Tororo deputy RDC Richard Gulume, a Migereko confidant. Gulume has gone to local FM stations on several occasions and attacked Basakana for standing against a senior colleague in the party.

However, not to be outdone Basakana is harping on about his historical role in the liberation of the country. He hit back at the RDC saying: “While Gulume and others were using catapults to kill weaver birds, we were in the bush fighting to liberate the country from dictatorship.”

Basakana, who won the Jinja LC5 post as an independent, has established vital links with developmental partners geared at reviving Jinja’s past industrial glory. Many projects in Butembe have his blessing and as district chairman he has more regular contact with the constituency.

However, Basakana has been defeated by Migereko before and voters are wondering what strategy he will use this time. For starters, like the soldier in him, he has a militaristic attitude.

Banalya contested to become the Constituent Assembly delegate for Butembe in 1994. He was defeated and went abroad. He is now back and ready to represent his constituency as an independent candidate.

He was the organising secretary for the crucial campaigns that pushed Migereko to Parliament in 1996. “If I managed to plan for the incumbent to succeed then I can do it even better for myself,” Banalya boasts.

Kilak County, AMURU
WITH relative peace and a number of rehabilitation programmes set up by the Government and NGOs in the north, the issues that will affect the polls will equally change.

NRM aspirants feel a huge sense of triumph, now that the LRA rebels are almost defeated and insist that it is the Government that returned peace to the region.

Army MP Maj. Gen. Julius Oketta will take on the incumbent, Michael Nyeko Ocula of FDC, who has been in Parliament since 2001.

Ocula is regarded highly for objecting to the decision by the Amuru district land board to give out land to investors.

Oketta says land disputes should not deter the industrialisation of the north. He claims he has lobbied for three multi-billion projects from Canadian and Malaysian firms to establish sugar, cooking oil and soap factories in Kilak. He says the waste materials from the sugar plant would be used to generate electricity for the district.

He promises to work with other leaders in the region inspite of their political affiliation.

Daniel Fred Kidega (NRM) and Anthony Akol (FDC), who lost to Ocula in 2006, want to build on the foundation they set four years ago. Kidega is one of Uganda’s representatives to the East African Legislative Assembly. He is on the ground mobilising support from the community ahead of the elections.

Akol who was the first runner up in 2006, and Gen. Oketta hail from Pabbo sub-county that has been embroiled in a border dispute with Lamogi sub-county. Akol claims he is the only leader who can unite the two communities without a bloody fight breaking out.

Gilbert Olanya (FDC), the district councillor for Amuru sub-county also wants the seat. He boasts that he is sponsoring 71 students for secondary and vocational courses.

The list also includes Amuru district probation officer, Santo Komakech, who hopes to get the NRM’s endorsement. He said the youth whom he has interacted with, have made him confident of victory. He is also lobbying for support from the NRM in the diaspora to help fund community development projects.

Richard Odokonyero (UPC), a health worker, has also embarked on mobilising and sensitising the people of Kilak county on peace and development. Odokonyero, who also contested in the 2006 elections, calls for proper resettlement of IDPs and more incentives for returnees.

Francis Otim (DP), a teacher and an engineer is moving through villages to market his intentions. “No obstacle can stand against a thousand voices demanding for change. And I already have those one thousand voices demanding for me,” Otim said, quoting a line used by US President, Barrack Obama during his campaign.

Wilfred Openy, who will stand as an Independent candidate, promises to solve all the problems in the area. He is an accountant at Gulu University.

With the war over, its likely that strong personalities other than party affiliation will determine who eventually takes the seat.

Fort Portal, KABAROLE
The incumbent, Stephen Kaliba, is facing competition from Alex Ruhunda and a Kampala-based architect, Patrick Rubongoya.

Ruhunda defected from FDC to the NRM in October 2009 and was received by the NRM secretary general, Amama Mbabazi, at the NRM offices in Fort Portal, amid jubilation. With his declaration to contest for the Fort Portal Municipality seat, Ruhunda’s decision to switch parties can now be viewed in context. The former director of the Kabarole Research and Resource Centre has worked with civil society organisations for 13 years and wants to use that experience during campaigns and in his tenure, if elected.

Ruhunda has also been the global president of the International Association for Community Development.

Meanwhile, Rubongoya is a renowned architect. He is also known for strongly criticising the leadership of Toro Kingdom. At the moment, he has not declared which party he belongs to. However, he has on several occasions strongly condemned human rights abuses and bad governance.

Rubongoya is so hard hitting that in 2009, the district security committee led by the RDC banned a political talk show on Voice Of Toro radio on which he was a panelist.

The incumbent, Stephen Kaliba, went to Parliament after he failed to beat Augustine Kayonga to the Kaborole district LC V chair on two occasions. Kaliba is also the Kabarole district NRM secretary general. During his first years in Parliament, Kaliba strongly promoted education in his constituency. He donated textbooks and fought for Mpanga S.S, when the school was involved in a wrangle with the National Forestry Authority over allegedly expanding into a forest reserve. Kaliba also started a project in which schools that excel in PLE win sh1m.

The MP, however, has to deal with a long-standing conflict between him and Fort Portal Mayor, Asaba Ruyonga, over who should take credit for the current transformation of the municipality; beauty, cleanliness, tarmac roads and streetlights.

THE incumbent, Ruth Tuma, owes her success in 2006 to the rural bloc vote in favour of the ruling NRM party.

She faced stiff competition from Forum for Democratic Change’s Abby Tabisa Kalule, who is ready for a fresh challenge in 2011.

But that is not all as from within the party camp itself, Jinja district speaker Agnes Nabirye has intentions of unseating Tuma in the primaries later this year.

Kalule is a renowned farmer and a gifted orator. Her exemplary role and contribution to improving farming skills in the district cannot go without mention. She is popular in the urban areas where the opposition enjoys reasonable support.

But Kalule has an uphill task to take the rural bloc vote of Butembe and Busedde, areas that are NRM strongholds. Also, the squabbles between the Democratic Party (DP) and FDC in Jinja municipality could weaken her standing.

Nabirye is a crowd puller and has the potential to turn the tide against Tuma. As a district speaker, she has had enough time to interact with her constituents. She has been spotted supervising local government work including road maintenance and borehole construction.

She has won the hearts of many, who say she is approachable.

The major battle in NRM will be between Nabirye and Tuma, from which the winner will lock horns with Kalule and any other late entrant to the race.

COMPILED BY: Henry Mukasa, George Bita, Tom Gwebayanga, Patrick Jaramogi, Bizimungu Kisakye, Chris OcowuN, Pascal Kwesiga

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Fox Odoi eyes West Budama North as Oketta dares Ocula in Kilak county

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