The current and popular saw spoken by Luo speaking communities comprising of Lango and Acholi is ‘Yoo Leng or Yoo Ler’.
However, not everyone is able to follow such a clearer road because of different reasons.
And to our politicians, at all levels, it’s no guarantee that there is Yoo Leng or Yoo Ler for them, especially when it comes to 2021 polls.
Now, as political terrain and thrust ahead of 2021 general elections is now visibly seen in political players – everywhere, TND News embarked on investigations to underscore who might and might not retain their seats.
The investigation [akin to] a survey tells how popular; for bad or good reasons a Member of Parliament is loved or hated by his or her constituents, and what lies ahead of each of them in coming elections.
In this first publication of Road to 2021 Polls, TND News brings out five Lango MPs, having interacted with their voters – to understand their [voters’] thinking of how fundamental the Lawmakers have been of help to them since 2016 elections.
Denis Hamson Obua
Popularly known as “Atin-alwak, Denis Hamson Obua is a graduate of Uganda Law Development Center and lately of a master’s degree in Public Administration from Uganda Management Institute in Kampala.
Obua began his political career as the chairperson of the youth council in Lira district and later utilized his popularity to ascend to the position of Northern Uganda Youth Member of Parliament until the 2011 elections when he, contested for Ajuri County MP seat and his bid was successful.
In the last elections “read” as 2016, Obua rekindled his Ajuri interest and beat his fellow challengers including Isaac Apenyo, David Kennedy [DK] Odongo and Emmanuel Ongom Okwel and again successfully retained his seat.
This contemporary online newspaper picked interest in Obua’s constituency – Ajuri, which according to local. political pundits, may be one of the “hot beds of politics” come 2021.
TND News interfaced randomly with 321 registered voters in Ajuri County and of these, 265 said they would vote
him back should he appear on the ballot paper.
To his constituents, especially his true supporters, Obua is ‘eloquent, consistent and articulates issues in Parliament’, a key responsibility or rather a role of a Legislator.
“I normally watch live Parliamentary sessions, and whenever I see Obua rise up on the floor of Parliament, I feel proud that I truly have an MP because when he speaks, even the speaker nods,” a voter – Omara Quinto tells us.
Another ingredient which has spiced up Obua’s political menu, quoting his voters is “his lobbying capacity both with private partners and the government”.
These they say has seen the constituency receives “a wide range of development projects like rural electrification which has seen sub counties like Amugu connected to the national power grid”.
Aweki Paro Primary school, near the massacre site in Amononeno in Abako sub-county is one of such projects.
The school now has new magnificent structures thanks to Obua’s contact with Kids of Africa, an international non-governmental organization.
Obua is equally popular among elderly voters, some of whom are already benefiting from the Social Assistance Grant [SAGE] for the elderly; an achievement that Obua’s voters say cannot be detached from him because they have ‘evidence of letters’ he wrote to line ministers to ensure Alebtong is included in the programs.
To the youth, they identify with the young legislator because of his passion for sports notably football and on top of cash contributions to Lango Province Team in the famous FUFA Drum competitions.
“Obua has always bought tickets for his young constituents to watch the match,” they say.
“We feel he is one of us, and he belongs to our generation because he loves sports and we will vote him because we see a ministerial material in him,” a youthful voter added.
Christine Achen Ayoo.
Unlike her male counterpart, the political waters seem to be murky for Christine Achen Ayo who was hitherto this political survey a ‘sweetheart’ to the voters.
Achen made her political introduction in 2011 but relented and paved way for Rebecca Amuge Otengo who also later became the state minister for Northern Uganda Rehabilitation.
She would later go ahead to win the 2016, trouncing her main rival Elizabeth Abongo who contested on the ticket of opposition Forum for Democratic Change – FDC.
If what political pundits postulate is anything to go by, then it could be said that Achen rode on the support of her then husband, businessman, musician and a public figure Moses Ejibu aka Jibbo Mamo.
Immediately after winning the 2016 elections, Achen gained more sympathies among her voters after she was dragged to Lira Court on basis of having questionable academic qualifications, an election petition case which she won.
This contemporary newspaper in its survey has however found serious and complex political equations which the female legislator should find answers to if she has to remain in the August House, and this has to do much with her competencies in matters of legislation.
It should be recalled that legislation, oversight on the executive and scrutinizing the national budget are very core roles of a Member of Parliament but according to 65% of the respondents in Alebtong, they are dissatisfied with the representation in their woman MP.
“We feel there are issues that should have come to the notice of government but we don’t hear our MP speak about it,” remarked one of the voters.
But even so, some credited her for recently taking a tough stance on Maj. Gen. Matayo Kyalizonza, Uganda’s ambassador to Burundi who assaulted a female traffic officer.
Much as our survey revealed that voters are not concerned about how their MPs voted in the age limit bill, but a few told TND News that they felt betrayed by Achen who voted for the removal of the upper and lower age cap in the Constitution.
The Cap, widely known as Article 102[b] was removed by Parliament and soon upheld by top Court.
Such decisions now allow incumbent President Museveni Yoweri to appear again in the 2021 elections.
In spite of the concerns, women are more convinced by the services delivered by the female legislator, especially on the issue of maternal health.
“Most of us are poor and cannot afford mama kits but Achen has always given us for free, I am happy for what she has done,” a mother confessed.
As it stands now, Achen is on a political surge which will tilt depending on who springs up to challenge her.
Our findings, however shows that she could lose if Uganda’s current ambassador to Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia and Eritrea – Rebecca Amuge Otengo makes a political comeback.
But we also understand that there are high level discussions that could see Otengo take charge of the president’s campaign instead of contesting for Alebtong district Woman MP Seat.
Charles Angiro Gutmoi
If there is a true opposition political figure to reckon with in Lango, then no doubt, this three times MP for Erute County North is a real deal.
Charles Angiro Gutumoi, aka Abacacon has demonstrated his unwavering support for Uganda’s main opposition political party the Forum for Democratic Change – FDC despite its own internal democratic challenges.
Angiro, a teacher by profession, once participated in the Lawkena rebellion before the LRA war; all this points to his radicalism towards the National Resistance Movement [NRM] party and in particular its leader Gen. Museveni Yoweri Kaguta.
It should be noted that Angiro was a political darling to his constituents given his anti-government sentiments back then when Lango was plunged into a civil war waged by the LRA against the government.
His biting comments when LRA overrun Barlonyo IDP camp drew concerns from different stakeholders. In that incident, at least 300 people can never be forgotten because they were gravely massacred.
But as pundits will tell you, Angiro was all talks but no work, a reason he would later be beaten by his political contender, Geoffrey Omara Adigi in the 2011 Parliamentary elections, Omara is [was] an NRM flag bearer.
But having carefully studied the loopholes that plunged him into the political indeterminate state, Angiro retreated to the grass root, lived among the local populace and balanced it with pro-people campaigns.
This lured the voters to his side – no wonder he reclaimed his seat in 2016.
One of the attributes to his success, voters say was the demonstration he waged against power distributing body UMEME in 2012 when Lira and other towns were experiencing intermittent power supply.
Nevertheless, our survey into Lango MPs who will and might not make it back to Parliament in 2021 puts Angiro in a water tight position. From our interactions with his voters, majority say they are dissatisfied with his representation in the August House, and that he is no longer vocal as he used to in the previous Parliaments.
Many have also questioned his coordination and lobbying of services, let alone self-initiated projects to impart on the community apart from a few who appreciated his efforts in trying to mobilize parents to appreciate the value of educating their children.
It should be noted that several schools in Aromo sub-county, where Angiro hails from have been cited as leading in cases of early childhood marriage and teenage pregnancies.
But some voters sympathize with him saying he was in and out of court following an election petition case lodged on him by Omara Adigi which he later won at the Court of Appeal and they believe it could have affected his ability to deliver services.
Mr. Angiru has also been sick and got admitted in Mulago national hospital after he survived a grave accident early this year on Gulu – Kampala highway.
But the final verdict shows that Erute North is for grab should a serious candidate show up.
Samuel Okwri Odwe
This engineer cum politician was hitherto 2016 elections a little known kid on the political blog saves for the business world and notably contracts.
However our impeccable sources say he had his foots deep in the ruling party [NRM] and also had connections with key government officials, no wonder he would later trounce the overall Minster of State for Northern Uganda Rehabilitation Rebecca Amuge Otengo.
To bring our readers to speed, many factors contributed to Okwir’s political success but we won’t spend time to expose all.
For starters one wonders what motivated him to join politics because he was a little known political figure having never participated in even a mere local politics.
But one clear and unadoptable factor is that he is a son of a former prison commander known as Odwe whose excellent service in the Uganda Prison Service earned him the love of the community and definitely Okwir reaped from the dividends of his father.
Also important to note is that Otengo had lost touch with the political realities on the ground even as a serving Woman MP Alebtong and a Minister then, and no doubt even a cat on a ballot paper would get more votes than her, then.
This was basically because Otengo successfully failed to deliver on Lango Palace constructions even when she one time said the money was in “her bag”.
Then also came in personal ‘fights’ with fellow Minister like Sam Engola who was then State Minister for Housing.
Even when Ms Otengo appealed against the polls results at Lira High Court which she later lost, the community still poured in huge numbers to show support for Okwir and that he was a “man of the people”.
But, it can be concluded that Moroto County is a virgin political ground ready for penetration by any serious political candidate.
One will be quick to ask why? Definitely not for any superficial reasons but that the voters we interviewed says they ‘showed their seeds on naked rock’.
In simple terms, Okwir, according to our survey has failed to live up to the expectations and aspirations of the people both in representation and service delivery.
“We thought he would be vocal, but now we feel our voices are not crossing beyond Karuma,” a voter told us.
“He’s only visible during annual pilgrimage to Namugongo Martyrs Shrine for celebrations. Apart from that, he’s always hides,” another voter expressed concern.
TND News has also learnt that Okwir remains highly inaccessible by his voters to the extent that he would emerge an award winner among legislators whose known cell phone number is ever switched off and this has irritated many of his voters.
The Iceme Bursary Scheme
The Iceme bursary scheme is another nail on Okwir’s political casket. It should be recalled that he entered into an agreement to help needy students from his constituency study at Iceme Girls SS in Oyam district.
It turned sour after the Legislator deliberately failed to the cost of bursary to the school and the matter came up before the Catholic authorities hence casting and curding his political image, let alone his integrity.
Like every coin has two sides, a minority of those interviewed especially women sympathizes with this independent- NRM bent legislator on grounds that he used his personal funds, mobilized and took Hepatitis B vaccinations to the lowest level of a parish.
He’s also credited for his tireless efforts to treat women with fistula complications and that, lately he lobbied for funds that saw some road networks opened in the constituency.
That said, our survey shows that Okwir’s political future is hanging on a thin thread and should a serious candidate emerge, he could go back to his village of Aloi.
Joy Atim Ongom
She is the Lira district Woman Member of Parliament serving her second term and this time on the ticket of Uganda People’s Congress party.
In 2016, Joy’s main challenger was Linda Agnes Auma, now RDC Amuru district.
Infact many argue that Auma could have trounced Joy had President Museveni delivered on the animal compensation awarded by court. But this was never to be.
Not so much can be said of this female legislator as our survey indicated firstly because she has kept a low profile in her political life and stayed away from most controversies including that of her party UPC despite its internal squabbles.
In our filed visits, Joy registered much popularity in Aromo, Adyel, Agali and Amach sub counties and Adyel division.
Most of the male respondents told TND News they would have little to comment but women willingly gave us information.
The few male respondents who spoke to us credited Joy for truly standing by their voice against the removal of the Presidential age limit and as it can be recalled, Atim Joy and her compatriots in opposition were jointly tear gassed by the command of the then Lira DPC Joel Tubanone when Atim and her colleagues MPs staged a consultation campaign against the “rape of the constitution” at Adyel division headquarters.
We also discovered that just like MP Obua of Ajuri, Ms Ongom has seriously embarked on hand hoes distribution and support to local saving schemes in villages especially women groups.
And if voting was done by the time of this survey, Joy would not have any hurdles making it back to Parliament given the fact that there is no serious candidate.
More of the same, later this week.
Authors: Frank Oyugi & Milton Emmy Akwam
Editorial: Our journalists strive for accuracy, but on occasion we do make unintended mistake. Have complain on our journalism, articles? Reach us by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org