The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga and her deputy, Jacob Oulanyah’s contest to take over the August House’s leadership has caused sharp divisions within the top echelons of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM).
Last weekend, NRM’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) was supposed to meet to discuss among other issues the race for Speakership which has so far attracted three candidates, the latest being, Kira Municipality MP, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).
Oulanyah has been Kadaga’s deputy since 2011 but the two have not been enjoying the best of work relations that sometimes, their clash of egos stalled parliamentary business as the two principals, who are by law mandated to preside over parliamentary business, took foreign trips.
Oulanyah, the Omoro MP, first gave a shot at the Speakership in 2016 but their nasty fight forced President Yoweri Museveni to use CEC to persuade Oulanyah to back down and maintain the status quo at Parliament.
At the time, Oulanyah had capitalized on Kadaga’s ‘sins’ within NRM such as her 2013 refusal to declare seats held by MPs Muhammad Nsereko (Kampala Central), Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga), Barnabas Tinkasiimire (Buyaga West), and Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East), vacant after their expulsion from the party.
Kadaga sat in the CEC meeting that resolved to expel the four ‘rebel’ MPs but once she returned to the Speaker’s seat in Parliament, she ruled against the CEC resolution arguing that as the Speaker, she had a duty to maintain the legislature’s independence.
The Omoro MP had also accused her Kamuli Woman counterpart of leaving to him all the sensitive business in Parliament like the controversial Public Order Management Act which put him on a collision path with MPs, Ssekikubo, Angeline Osegge (Soroti Woman), and Odonga Otto (Aruu).
For the 2021 contest, Oulanyah has indicated determination to fight till the end and has received the endorsement of senior NRM leaders.
Last week when Kadaga had gone to mourn a dead relative, Oulanyah chaired the house for the first time almost after a year, and it gave opportunity for some ministers like Ruth Nankabirwa, the Government Chief Whip, to openly show their support.
Despite losing her re-election bid as Kiboga Woman MP, Nankabirwa pledged to campaign for Oulanyah.
“Although I didn’t make it, I know we shall be around to see you spearheading legislation in this country,” said Nankabirwa.
Nankabirwa vigourously campaigned against Kadaga during the NRM CEC elections where she (Kadaga) competed against Lands state minister, Persis Namuganza for the ruling party’s second national chairperson.
Namuganza is one of the ministers that are openly against Kadaga’s bid to hold the Speaker’s chair for a third term, and are mobilizing for Oulanyah who is said to be favoured by Museveni.
“The party hasn’t endorsed anyone, what you are seeing are individuals marketing their interests not sanctioned by any organ of the party,” said Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, the Housing state minister, also NRM vice chairman in charge of Western Uganda.
Oulanyah has also taken on the services of NRM social media activists – mainly those who met President Museveni at the beginning of this month.
“There was no discussion about the Speaker’s race in that meeting,” Museveni’s spokesman, Don Innocent Wanyama told The Witness last week.
To State House, Entebbe for the meeting with Museveni, the group is led by Duncan Abigaba, the deputy head of the Government Citizens Interaction Centre (GCIC), and Matthew Bagonza who separately told The Witness that their support for Oulanyah is influenced by their past relations with him.
“We also have choices to make as Ugandans with an interest in the democratic processes of our country,” Bagonza said.
“Not everyone who went for the meeting is for Oulanyah; there were those who were for Kadaga and others for Oulanyah. Those of us who are for Oulanyah have chosen to drum up support for him because he has worked with them, they know him, his qualities and capabilities,” he added.
What is not clear is how some of them are using their offices at GCIC to campaign for the Omoro MP.
“We have had engagements with Oulanyah as way back as 2018, and, I have personally had dinner with him twice… that was before the campaigns for Speakership. It is that long-held relationship we have had that is driving us to voluntarily campaign for him,” Abigaba said.
GEN MOSES ALI
On Wednesday (March 10), Kampala minister Betty Amongi called a meeting of the 32 MPs from the Lango sub-region to declare their support for Oulanyah.
The meeting at Kabira country club in Bukoto a Kampala suburb drew the attendance of 14 out the 32 MPs notable among them was her husband, Jimmy Akena (Lira City West), Felix Okot Ogong (Dokolo South), Santa Alum (Oyam Woman), Opio Acuti (Kole North, Samuel Okwir (Moroto County), Julius Acon (Otuke West), and Paul Omara (Otuke East).
This meeting came days after Deputy Prime Minister, Gen. Moses Ali volunteered to make phone calls to MPs from Northern Uganda urging them to support Kadaga’s bid.
The 81-year-old Adjumani West MP’s intervention on Kadaga’s behalf disorganized Oulanyah’s campaign that had been advancing a narrative that Museveni favoured Oulanyah over Kadaga.
- US slaps sanctions against Ugandan officials over 2021 elections - April 16, 2021
- Mohammed VI Foundation launches ambitious media strategy for African scholars - April 13, 2021
- Inside the bus to Kyankwanzi - April 9, 2021