“Opposition is already drafting petitions for Supreme Court because they know they will not win and when we pay the money for cattle compensation now, it will look like election bribery, so technically, it is even impossible,” Jacob Oulanyah, deputy speaker of parliament.
Lira—4, January 2021: What started as mere rumours of a cash donation to Uganda’s oldest political party UPC could soon turn out to be politically hemorrhagic to the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party and its presidential candidate, Yoweri T. Kaguta Museveni.
The cash donation is said to be near shillings 700m to shillings 1bn. Sources say each district in Lango has a share of 100 million shillings only.
Lango sub-region has nine districts of Amolatar, Kwania, Apac, Otuke, Alebtong, Kole, Oyam and Dokolo.
TND News understands the colossal sum of money was clandestinely wired to the joint account of Moses Otim aka Great Moses, media personality turned politician and Brenda Atim Kinyera, the national youth vice chairperson for Uganda People’s Congress.
Both Otim and Atim have since come out to deny the allegations on most of the airwaves of Lango Radio stations, much as UPC officials in Kole claim that from reliable sources, they were told their monies are with the duo.
The revelation of this “black financial transaction” as partial fulfilment of terms in the alleged UPC and NRM alliance came to light when acting under pressure from UPC delegates, Fred Ebil Ebil, a candidate in the race for Kole South Parliamentary seat and also the acting secretary-general under the UPC led by Jimmy Akena, disclosed that the money was released.
Mr Ebil also revealed that Brenda Kinyera and probably the “PP” as they commonly refer to Akena both have knowledge about the “cash donation”.
Impeccable sources familiar with the issue have intimated to TND News that the money has equally sparked a bedlam with the party because some UPC candidates have been sidelined, especially those seen to be opposed to the propagation of the “Museveni project” within UPC.
Our investigations show that some candidates who have been sidelined and denied access to this cash bonanza are Erute South MP, Jonathan Odur and Joy Atim Ongom. The latter is vying for Lira City Woman Member of Parliament.
As media (Radio stations) were awash with the news of this “mega, some calling it dubious transaction”, acrimony started brewing within the NRM with many openly expressing their bitterness. Some are threatening to quit the ruling party, now in power for 34 years, while some say they would stop forthwith their door-to-door campaign in search of votes for their presidential candidate, Mr Museveni.
“We are here toiling to campaign for NRM candidates in Lira district, in the city and for president Museveni with meagre facilitation and some on the hungry stomach yet he is busy dishing out a huge sack of cash to Jimmy Akena and his cronies, this is foolery,” cries Bosco Odongo aka Bodyguard, the acting NRM chairman in Lira City.
Okwir Patrick Kampala, another NRM supporter, and mobilizer in Lira district was concerned that his party is losing track by her continued backyard dealings with the Uganda People’s Congress.
“UPC has already been weakened and we (NRM) are completely demoralized,” Kampala added.
“We are not happy and Museveni should know that he will lose Lango votes because his action shows that he does not value some of his carders,” Okwir further told TND News’ Frank Oyugi.
NRM now shakes, Lanywen in emergency response
Surely, with 9 days left to the polling day, such a shocker would soon be a nightmare and a squeaky bum time for the NRM party. The ruling party is banking on Lango and expecting bumper harvests (votes) having seen less penetration of the National Unity Platform (NUP) party and would not want to lose its votes as it happened in 2016.
So, on Saturday 2, January, Jacob Oulanyah Lanwyen, the deputy speaker of Parliament and the current NRM Vice-chairman for Northern Uganda rushed to Lira City and convened an impromptu meeting to strategize ahead of the polls.
The brief but high-tempo meeting at Uganda Technical College (UTC Lira) attracted flag bearers for Parliamentary seats and LCV chairpersons from all the entire districts of Lango.
Among the top NRM bigwigs who were conspicuously present included Denis Hamson Obua, the Ajuri County MP and State Minister for Sports, Col (Rtd) Charles P. Okello Engola Macodowgo, the State Minister for Defense, Felix Okot Ogong, the Dokolo South MP, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng (Lira City Woman MP candidate) and Bosco Onyik—Chairman worker’s league of the party.
The meeting started with a brief welcome remark for Denis Obua Ajuri, who assured Oulanyah that the party is still on course in Lango sub-region. He later welcomed Col. Charles P. Okello Engola, who equally gave a brief remark, assuring the deputy speaker of “peace and tranquillity” before inviting him to address the meeting.
With a firm and piercing look like that of a Priest angry at his followers from the pulpit, son of Okori (Oulanyah) delved straight to the matters at hand: “Time is running out and deliver the presidency Gen.Yoweri Kaguta Museveni,” he said.
“If voting was to be held today, do we have the assurance that our candidate Yoweri Museveni will get votes from Lango,” Oulanyah posed a question to the house, and he was met with a divided chorus answer from “optimists and pessimists”.
Mr Oulanyah then went and told his comrades in yellow attires that time was fast running out and yet the task ahead was an enormous one of delivering a president and setting a government in a few days to come.
He warned that it was time for serious business and member should desist from side wars.
He even converted the 12 days (as of Saturday) to hours, informing to the members the urgency with which they have to hit the ground running if they have to secure votes for the president.
“We don’t have the time, and from now on you should go door to door, person to person and village to village and convince them to vote NRM,” he told the meeting.
“NRM Oyeee” Oulanyah roared to the house. But this “Oyee” was met with a lukewarm shout back of “oyeee” from the members, which sent a shiver down the spine of the national vice-chairman an indicator that some “flag-bearers had a bone to pick with the party”.
“You seem cold, is everything alright?” Lanywen probed the house, and this is how he came to tackle the subject of the cash bonanza from the party to UPC.
He (Oulanyah) said he is aware that the flag bearers are hurting because of the rumours surrounding a huge sum of money donated to UPC. Oulanyah, also the Omoro County MP, was very quick to say that he was not aware of the cash bonanza because it was not discussed nor approved by the Central Executive Committee (CEC), the highest decision-making organ of NRM nor its Secretariat.
“If it is true, then it could have been direct from the office of the party chairman,” he told the meeting.
He then went ahead to console the party members that even if it was true that the money was disbursed to UPC to a tune of a billion shillings, it should not worry the party members because “it is a drop in the ocean” compared to the magnitude of the hefty financial resources spent by the party on her candidates.
“Mr Museveni, as a candidate could be using a multi-pronged approach to gunner victory,” he defended the giving he’s not sure about.
“Some of us here are flag bearers and you know what I am talking about; you would want to do everything to win…..I am sure if it were possible, president Museveni would have wished that Kyagulanyi votes for him,” he told the house in a beckoning tone.
Mr Oulanya further explained to the house that the party had sent shillings 300,000 to all the villages in Lango, and additional facilitations up to the district level.
Cumulatively, he said each parliamentary flag bearer will receive shillings 50m after CEC decided to top additional shillings 10m, and said half of the money was already expended to the candidates.
He also reminded them of the yellow bicycles and motorcycles procured by the party. All these he added are an indicator that the party has them at heart, calling for “emotional restraint from the party members”.
Oulanyah smells victory
To excite the flag bearers, Oulanyah said they needed not to despair because by all indicators the NRM candidate, Yoweri Museveni will win by over 70% and hand over power to himself on May 12th 2021.
He said the NRM has 11million people in its register, which when tallied alongside the 18m registered voters by the electoral commission points to victory for the party.
He, however, acknowledged that the NRM is facing a challenge with the young voters who are more inclined to the opposition because they are only told the bad side of government.
“They are our children, our nephews, our nieces, we should engage, talk to them and we need to develop strategies to challenge the tendencies that have been put in them to blame the government and the NRM all the time,” the deputy speaker, said while stamping his feet on the podium in a show of victory.
Oulanyah challenged, members trade accusations
With the scorching sun directly hitting the asbestos (roof of the hall of UTC where the meeting was), the house became fierier with bitter lamentations by the party members whose major issue orbited on the controversial money gifted to UPC.
Richard Omara Awio, an aspirant for Otuke County MP seat on the party’s ticket, told Oulanyah off that it defeats logic that the party members are striving to ensure victory for the party, but instead their party chairman is financing his opponents.
“Like for my case, how do you give my opponent two double-cabin pickup trucks and a lot of money? So how do you expect me to compete?” he questioned the deputy speaker.
Among the candidates, Omara Awio is running against is his media compatriot, Moses Augustine Otim aka Great Moses who is being accused of providing his “bank account” for the deposit of NRM cash bonanza.
He (Awio) also reminded the deputy speaker that it has become habitual for the party to abandon its own members and cited the appointment of UPC’s Betty Amongi Akena as a cabinet minister and Joy Ruth Aceng (whose appointment as Fisheries minister was rescinded following pressure from the NRM) and she would later be posted as country’s ambassador to Canada.
Andrew Awany, Kole LC5 candidate whose flag is in contestation also told the deputy speaker that it is an acceptance that the party is financing their opponents at the expense of their candidature.
“Go and tell the president that we are not happy, we have sold our houses, our land and property to support the party but our efforts are not rewarded,” Awany yelled and ignored a “time up warning” from Willy Omodo Omodo, the day’s program controller.
Awany had to be shut down by the deputy speaker himself.
In Amolatar, Kioga County MP (candidate) Anthony Okello Tango and Dr Agnes Apea, the flag bearer for Woman MP, said their NRM-independent leaning opponents are telling the voters that he (Oulanyah) and the party is behind them (independents) and they have the favour of the party to which they asked the deputy speaker to clarify.
Okello Anthony said for his case, it was absurd that he was kept out of the distribution of the shillings 300,000 to the villages and instead; the money was handed over to Adupa Ongwech, an independent who was also in attendance.
Apollo Onyango, the NRM flag bearer for Lira City East MP who is giving Jimmy Akena A bloody nose and a serious run for his money, in addition to that given to him by NRM, accused Lira district NRM finance boss Geoffrey Etwop of financing opposition (opponents) against the official candidates of the party.
Lango cattle compensation not urgent
Currently, banks and other financial institutions are crowded as villagers flock into either open or reactivate their accounts, hoping to receive animal compensation monies from the government.
Recently, while on his campaign trail in Lango, president Museveni said his government would earmark at least shillings 5Obn each for Teso, Lango and Acholi.
But Oulanyah clarified in the same meeting that NRM members should explain the truth to the people because the government is committed to paying the money and the process is on, but it should not be tied to votes.
“Aren’t you aware that the opposition is already drafting petitions for Supreme Court because they know they will not win and when we pay the money for cattle compensation now, it will look like election bribery, so technically, it is even impossible,” Oulanyah told them.
In that meeting, each flag bearer was later paid shillings 200,000 as transport allowance.