IF there is a constituency to watch in northern Uganda this next election then it has got to be Chua County, currently represented by junior foreign Minister Henry Okello Oryem
By David Labeja
IF there is a constituency to watch in northern Uganda this next election then it has got to be Chua County, currently represented by junior foreign Minister Henry Okello Oryem.
Two influential people are after Okello Oryem’s seat, one being the current Prime Minister of Ker Kwaro Acholi Polly Phillip Okin, commonly known as Okin PP, and Phoebe Luwum, daughter of legendry Archbishop Janani Luwum.
Oryem, who has represented Chua for two terms now will face Phoebe Luwum in the NRM primary elections due in the next few months.
Leading with Love
In a press release sent out to the media recently in Kitgum town, Luwum has chosen the biblical leadership approach, with her campaign themed “leading with love.”
A scientist who graduated from Makerere University and Twente University in The Netherlands, Luwum has worked in various organizations among them African Union where she worked as a Program Coordinator for East & Southern Africa. Others are the Nile Basin Initiative, The Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) and Uganda Wildlife Authority
“The Chua community lives under a heavy burden of poverty, various diseases, difficulties in maternal and reproductive health, violence over land wrangles and many other illnesses. There is a general dissatisfaction over the state of governance in Kitgum District, characterized by misuse of office and lack of service delivery due to many reasons,” Luwum said while launching her campaign.
“Against this background, I feel a deep desire to contribute to bringing positive change to politics in Chua County so that all of us may enjoy a life of prosperity and peace, for ultimately it is only good governance that will enable us to attain this desire.”
Quoting from the book of Jermiah 29:11, Luwum said she has good intentions for Chua and people from all walks of life will benefit from her leadership if elected as MP.
I still have the mandate of the people of Chua
Speaking to the New Vision recently on phone, Oryem said he will ‘without any shadow of doubt’ contest for the Chua constituency come 2016.
“Whoever wants to contest against me is welcome, the people of Chua will decide, but I still have the mandate of the people of Chua and I am doing what they elected me to do,” said Oryem.
Oryem is the son of former president General Tito Okello Lutwa. After the President Yoweri Museveni led guerillas overthrew his father in 1986 he fled the country to the United Kingdom, where he practiced as a legal executive between 1988 and 2000.
Prime Minister of Ker Kwaro Acholi Polly Phillip Okin, commonly known as Okin PP. Photo by David Labeja
In 2001, returned home and contested for the Chua constituency and joined the government of Yoweri Museveni where he has been Minister since then.
Okin PP hoping for opposition backing
Born in 1971 in Pajimu Odong Oluru in Kitgum district, Okin PP has the advantage of having worked with the various communities in the district during his illustrious career in the NGO world.
“At the time we finished school, you needed to have ‘a tall relative to eat the pawpaw fruit’, so I failed to get a job with the district commission of Kitgum, forcing me to go into the NGO world,” Okin said.
So in 1998, Okin joined International Rescue Committee in Kitgum and thereafter worked for many organizations such as Save the Children, Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative, UNDP, CARE International, and most recently as an expatriate in South Sudan as Peace Advisor to the government of South Sudan.
“All these enabled me to interact with members of the community, and I saw the lack of abled and people based leadership in Chua,” Okin said.
And because of the failure by government to provide needed services in the community, Okin thinks he can serve Chua best as an opposition member of parliament. Okin is also confident he will be an opposition flagbearer especially after UPC president Dr Olara Otunnu dismissed rumors that he wants to contest for the Chua constituency.
“We need to keep the government in check and balance. I am therefore hoping that the opposition rally behind me so that we can have the people of Chua get the services they deserve,” Okin said.
He is also hoping to break the jinx of having the same contestants for the Chua seat since 2001, where the people of Chua had to choose either from Henry Okello Oryem or John Livingstone Okello Okello, which, to PP Okin, provided the people of Chua with narrow choices.
“We need courage to change the status quo in Chua County. These two leaders (Okello Oryem and Okello Okello) have done their part, but Chuia has more able leaders who are experienced and exposed, but they are not courageous enough to face these two,” Okin said.
What the people of Chua want in 2016
Samuel Ocaya, a resident of Kitgum town and a voter in Chua says the problem with the politics of Uganda is that the opposition is bent towards regime change while those in the NRM are working hard to identify themselves with the president even when there is nothing they can show themselves as individuals.
Ochaya believes that at the level of president, NRM will take the day.
“The main factors that will tilt the voting pattern more to the NRM is the infrastructural developments being executed by government such as the road from Gulu to Madi Opei, the rural piped water projects and rural electrification,” Ochaya said.
He however says he will give his vote to a leader who has a program to impriove education and improve household income in Chua.
Doreen Abalo of Labongo also in Chua would hwoever want to ask an aspirant what they have so far done for the people of Chua before they can be elected.
“I am not going to vote for someone because he or she is a good orator. No, not this time. I want evidence that this is what I have done for the people of Chua regardless of your political party’” said Abalo.
But Henry Oryem Kissinger thinks the age factor will play a big role in determining the next MP for Chua.
“If I had a golden vote, I would vote someone who can advocate for people and influence policies that leads to development, and most probably a vibrant youth will take the day,” Oryem said.
Additional reporting by Wokorach Oboi
Acholi Premier, Bp. Luwum''s daughter eye Min. Oryem’s seat