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Tough race for Lukwago, Onek, Godi. Babu, Bitangaro unsure

By Vision Reporter

Added 7th May 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 to local government. As the temperatures begin to rise, Saturday Vision puts a b

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 to local government. As the temperatures begin to rise, Saturday Vision puts a b

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 to 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.

Kampala Central
Erias Lukwago and his predecessor, Capt. Francis Babu are still undecided on whether they should contest for the Kampala Central MP seat in 2011.

Lukwago is contemplating contesting for the Kampala mayoral seat currently held by Hajji Nasser Sebaggala, whom he blames for messing up the city. Lukwago has consistently blamed Sebaggala for the problems in Kampala, which include conflicts over the sale of markets and corruption at City hall. He believes that going back to Kampala Central to contest for the area MP seat would leave the city hall in the hands of Sebagala.
Lukwago says he has received calls from all over the city from people asking him to run for mayor.

On the other hand, Babu who contested against Lukwago in 2006 and lost, says it is too early for him to declare his interest, before the Electoral Commission (EC) states whether Kampala Central is still a constituency. There is a possibility that the administrative structures of Kampala district will change before the 2011 general elections.

A supporter of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party, Babu also wishes to first go through his party’s primaries before he can state his position. He had occupied the seat for two terms before Lukwago took over. Babu, who had served as minister the repvious term, returned to private business and today he owns an FM radio station in the city. Lukwago attributes his victory against Babu to a law background and he argues that the constituency still needs a lawyer. Before he contested for the MP seat, Lukwago had won several constitutional Court cases against the government which had made him popular.
Many voters thought he could use the experience he had in law to push for their interests in Parliament which included drafting favourable laws. One of the biggest challenges which the people of Kampala Central face, is the rampant illegal evictions which leave them homeless. Lukwago believes having a lawyer in Parliament can help in address such challenges.

 Another aspirant is Arvind Patel, 58, a retired businessman.
He believes Kampala Central is a business hub with both local and international businesses and that for better representation in Parliament it needs a person with wide knowledge in business in both arena.
The NRM party national treasurer on the entrepreneurship league says politicians who do not understand business have fueled demonstrations in the city, which have disrupted businesses.

Patel has lived in Uganda since 1981 and speaks Luganda. He says he has the necessary requirements to take the seat from Lukwago.
Patel has worked before with the Katikiro of Buganda, Eng. J.B. Walusimbi and other cultural leaders in the country and therefore has no fear of rejection by the voters.

While his colleagues are undecided on whether they would contest in Kampala Central, Patel has already made his decision and is currently doing underground work. So far, he has 60 agents, the majority of whom are local leaders at village and parish levels, campaigning for him. He meets them regularly.

Patel reminds his colleagues who are still undecided, especially in the NRM party, of the old adage: ‘the early bird catches the worm’.
There were also rumours in the corridors of power that Godfrey Nyakana, the Kampala Central chairman and Bobi Wine, a popular musician, are interested in the seat, although the two deny the reports.
Nyakana says he will contest again for his present seat.

Bobie Wine, on the other hand, says he is not a politician and would never be dragged into politics.

Kampala Central Constituency is the business heart of the country. In 2006 the Constituency had about 78,000 voters although the number may slightly increase. It is a huge task for any candidate to campaign in it beacuse it has mixed popuplations, making it hard for a candidate to convince and win over people of different cultures.

It also has the richest and poorest classes of people and because of that, a candidate must be sensitive to the sentiments of the two classes.
Fred Bamwine, the assistant Resident District Commissioner for Nakawa Division, is another contender for the seat. Early this year Bamwine made flyers carrying new year greetings to the people of Kampala in Luganda and English. The pocket-size flyers carry the NRM logo and colours.

Bamwine rose to prominence around 2001 by regularly phoning into popular talkshows such as Spectrum on Radio One. He has since become a regular talkshow guest on various radio and television stations.
A few years later his visibility was rewarded when he was appointed assistant RDC in charge of Rubaga Division. He was later transferred to Nakawa Division. This could give him some advantage and has support from the lower classes of people in Kampala. Last year he made news when he stopped the Police and the National Environment Management Authority officials from evicting encroaches from Kinawataka wetland.

ARUA MUNICIPALITY

WHEN Hussein Akbar Godi made it to parliament as the youngest MP in 2006, a number of factors played in his favour.
First was his choice of party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), which had immense support at that time.  FDC president Kizza Besigye had asked residents to tick the key on the ballot paper. They responded and Godi made it.

Godi was also eloquent for his age, then just 24. The media fraternity in the area also chose to support and make him popular at the grassroots.
 But five years down the road, the factors determining the politics of the municipality seem to have taken a turn, presenting new and key challenges for Godi. First, is the mystery that still hovers over the gruesome murder of Godi’s wife, Rehema Caesar. It follows him like a shadow.

He was accused of the crime in a case that is still before the High Court. Whereas Godi pleads his innocence, the fact that he was arrested and charged has affected some potential voters. Godi further turned heads when he remarried in August 2009, only nine months after his wife was murdered. Asked if he did not find it disturbing to marry so soon, Godi said he was following the practice in his religion, Islam.
 But Godi’s real threat could be in the character of his opponents.

Unlike in 2006 when he faced off with politically naïve opponents, this time round seasoned politicians have shown interest in the seat. Prominent among them is Dr. Gabriel Gadison Aridru, an internationally respected engineer.

In 1986-87, Aridru was in charge of the World Bank-funded construction of the water tanks at Muyenga, Naguru and Jinja. He later went to the University of New Brunswick in Canada, where he earned a Master’s degree in structural engineering and project management in 1992.

 He immediately pursued further studies and got a PhD in civil/structural engineering at the same university in 1997. During his study time, 1990-1995, Aridru worked as a lecturer at the university in the department of civil engineering. He concurrently worked as senior structural engineer with Structural Investigation Inc, Canada between 1991 and1992. Aridru applied for a post of lecturer in the department of civil engineering at the University of Bahamas and he was accepted with no difficulty. He started lecturing in January 1996. Besides lecturing, he worked on a harbour project for the Bahamas capital. He was co-opted onto the project by a fellow lecturer who admired his expertise and knowledge.

In 1999, the Government of Bostwana hired Aridru as its chief project coordinator in the ministry of works and transport. He was responsible for the implementation of all government construction and infrastructure projects.
He was responsible for planning, scheduling, budgeting, implementation and maintenance of all infrastructure development projects like state-of-the-art highways, roads, schools, hospitals, office buildings and stadiums. In 2009, he returned home. Aridru wants to contest on the NRM ticket and has been doing his ground work. He started with his area of expertise, repairing boreholes in the over populated slum of Prison cell, orphanage cell and Oli.

He says during consultaions, he discovered that access to water has been a recurring problem, which he intends to prioritise. Others in the queue are the Arua LC5 chairman, Richard Andama Ferua, Buga Ratib and Buga Matata, all of whom are hoping to make it on the NRM ticket.  Ratib is an External Security Organisation operative based in the UK. He is determined to take a second shot at the post after being trounced by Nasur Okuti in the 2006 NRM primaries.
Warming up on the UPC ticket are Nelson Cemari, a practicing advocate and Jaffar Alekua, a retired teacher turned political analyst. And the list is likely to grow bigger.

LAMWO COUNTY

Many people think of the incumbent, energy and mineral development minister Eng. Hilary Onek, as their hero. This is because he lobbied the Government to grant them a district status. Others, however, argue that Lamwo district, which was carved out of Kitgum, was not a result of Onek’s efforts, but a creation by the Government to win votes from northern Uganda, which has been an opposition stronghold. Yet others argue that it was Kitgum Woman MP, Jane Akwero Odwong, who lobbied for the district during the 7th Parliament. Whichever way one looks at it, creation of the district is one of the key factors that will influence voting patterns next year.

Onek is also hailed for extending electricity from Kitgum to many townships in the district beginning with Padibe. Onek promised that electricity would reach all the townships in Lamwo before the 2011 elections to stimulate development and transforming people’s lives as they return to the villages.

Matthew Akiya of Lamwo district argues that Onek worked hard in uniting the people to embrace government programmes and in mobilising the population to support the NRM government. “This has improved service delivery to the people of Lamwo,” Akiya said, adding that the minister also gave scholarships to youth for further studies. Despite these achievements, Onek has no reason to rest on his haunches. John Komakech Ogwok of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) is working hard to defeat him. Ogwok says in 2006 Onek won with a narrow margin and thinks as an FDC candidate, he stands a high chance of beating Onek.

He says during his leaderdship as the chairman of Kitgum district, there were a number of programmes his executive implemented.

“There are a number of health centres and primary schools whose building we oversaw. I have been in charge of ensuring the displaced return to their original homes and to-date, over 90% have returned.

“We were approachable and easy to consult, unlike in the past when political leaders would dictate terms and conditions to be followed by the civil servants. I tried to unite the many factions as far as party politics is concerned. Work, jobs and contracts were given out on merit and not party lines,” Ogwok stated.

“There has been lots of progress in terms of development and reconciliation in the community. I had negative forces including some big shots in government who fought me because I am FDC. There are those who wanted me out of office within six months, but I fought them.”

Ogwok promises to unite the people of Lamwo regardless of their political afficialtion, unlike the present time when they are divided along party lines, he adds.

Ogwok claims that he is the only candidate who can challenge Onek. “I have support of the NRM, FDC, DP and UPC,” he said, adding that Onek should retire honorably.

 He promises to use the constituency development fund to support youth and women, especially in transforming agriculture.

Joseph Reno Opio Wod-Omal (DP), a consulant and sports presenter on radio in Kitgum, has also declared his intention to oust Onek.

Opio says he provides consultancy in areas of good governance and human rights to organisations and that through his initiative in 2005-2007, revolving loans were given out to 200 women groups to help them fight poverty.
He added that the organisation for which he was working provided HIV/AIDS livelihood support to 200 people. “We initiated projects at sub-county level to give school children scholastic materials and provided vocational skill training programmes like tailoring to more than 200 youth,” Opio stated.

Opio Wod-Omal explained that together with the organisation he served, 35 sewing machines were given out to some vulnerable groups for income generation. “I have also been actively involved in peace building and human rights. These activities gave me opportunities to interact with the people,” he said.

The radio presenter said Lamwo does not have any seed secondary schools like in other counties in Acholi. He said the areas biggest problems were poverty and poor education and health services.
“These problems require a charismatic leader who understands and provides solutions. I have had consultations with the people of Lamwo istrict and the response is good,” Opio remarked.

BUFUMBIRA SOUTH, KISORO DISTRICT

The incumbent, Trace Buchanayandi, will face stiff competition from two challengersp; John Tereraho, a former inspector of schools in Kisoro and former minister and area MP Sam Bitangaro.

Buchanayandi has kept close ties with the electorate. Once in a while he travels with the locals on the bus on his way to and from Kisoro.
His door is always open to constituents who visit him at parliament, especially students.

Buchanayandi beat Bitangaro in 2006 on an independent ticket. He claimed that the NRM primaries, which he lost, had been rigged in favour of Bitaganro. He has, however, made it clear that he will contest on the NRM ticket. He has made contributions to local projects and says the Kisoro parliamentary group lobbied to have NAADS extended to the district and for the tarmacking of the Kabale- Kisoro highway. There are wealthy and influential Bafumbira based in Kampala ready to back his campaign.
Sam Bitangaro, a lawyer and businessman, has hinted on taking another shot at the seat he lost in 2006. He has, however, stated that he is consulting the electorate and will declare his intentions in a few months. Bitangaro says after his exit, the projects he had started, like the gravity water scheme, construction of schools and other income-generating projects, had stalled.

Peter Bagabo says Bitangaro “has rectified some mistakes that caused him to lose the seat, and we are convincing him to come back”.

“We need his contribution back. he was developmental,” Bagabo added. Some local officials said they had lost a ministerial post following Bitangaro’s exit.

Bitangaro is said to have clashed with most of the Anglicans of Muhabura diocese. The conflict arose from the succession dispute that engulfed the diocese, creating a sharp divide among Christians.

Political analysts say if Bitagaro joins the race it will be one of the most hotly contested seats, if the past is anything to go by.

Compiled by: John Semakula, Frank Mugabi, Chris Ocowun and Darious Magara

Tough race for Lukwago, Onek, Godi. Babu, Bitangaro unsure

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