OPINION. 2pac’s ‘All eyez on me’ song would have been a perfect dedication to Koboko municipality on 5th September as the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party faithful flocked the polls to elect flag bearers across the country.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Koboko municipality took the day’s lion-share of attention, all the ‘big media’ outlets in the country reporting every step of the process.
The local media as well as social media kept their following updated; by about 3PM (EST), the world had already known the decision of the Koboko Municipality people, Dr Charles Ayume was going to be their flag bearer.
Such unprecedented attention did not come from the blue, the events leading to these primary elections and the tension it generated coupled with the calibre of candidates vying for the seat warranted such a reaction from the country.
Incumbent Ms Evelyn Anite, who doubles as state minister for finance in charge of privatisation needs no introduction, the fearless Anite is perhaps one of the boldest Museveni allies in her league of cadres.
She rose to more prominence during the ‘popular’ sole candidature suggestion in Kyankwanzi that would lead to an unopposed Museveni candidature in the 2016 elections.
Anite would later be quoted to have said they (NRM) have the army in a series of heated arguments leading to the change of constitution to change the age limit for the president and more recently as being ‘the gateway to Koboko’.
Dr Ayume, though never seen on the political scene in the constituency before had the clout to command a big following. He was not only a former employee of state house health monitoring unit but the son of Uganda’s former attorney general Francis Ayume (RIP).
Until his tragic death in an accident, Mr Ayume had commanded overwhelming love from his constituents and remains a hero figure in the larger Koboko and West Nile to date.
However, besides the high calibre of candidates vying for the seat of Koboko municipality, the violence, the marching crowds in defiance of the COVID-19 regulations, etc. kept many eagerly waiting on the outcome of the hot seat.
“The moment of truth has come, to the haters and supporters of the losing camp, turn all your eyes and cameras on Koboko Municipal Council and watch me send you and your losing candidate packing such that next time you don’t hate what you cannot imitate”, Anite tweeted on the election day.
Dr Ayume chose to calm the tension before the elections twitting “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are against us, we have done the hard work diligently and now let us turn out and vote peacefully”
His endeavour to calm the raging waters continued after his victory declaration hastily writing “I commit to remain a servant leader to the people of Koboko, I pray the same choice is made in the 2021 elections; to my sister Hon Anite, thank you for the challenge and the leadership provided to our people, my best wishes in your endeavours”
However, his reconciliatory tone to the electorate and opponent were met with a fierce response, “To the Mafias and haters, I concede, you’ve won the battle by stealing my victory but the war rages on” Anite retorted in a tweet on September 5th.
Those that thought the result of the primary elections would conclude the long standing tension between the two NRM big shots had terribly lost the bet, actually, season II of the ‘all eyez on me’ series was just beginning.
Which opposition is NRM?
“Comrades, following yesterday’s news from Koboko, I wish to urge all our supporters to ignore any underhand sinister plans to frustrate our MP candidature, let us stick to the party flag bearers at all levels from LC to the presidency”, read Dr Ayume’s latest tweet on November 30th.
Indeed the ‘war’ had raged on to a point that Anite was involved in an altercation with police over NRM party materials including T-shirts reportedly seized from the home of ‘her candidate’.
Mr Yakani, an independent candidate in 2021 elections is said to be a former member of the forum for democratic change (FDC) party.
In the days to come, posters of Mr Yakani embedded with president Yoweri Museveni emerged, the NRM badge boldly seen in the middle. Although not independently verified, many attributed these latest posters to the Anite-Ayume ‘war’ that was continuing.
As if to add petrol on to a blazing fire, Mr Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, the opposition national Unity platform candidate in the 2021 elections endorsed Dr Ayume while campaigning in Koboko.
“I have studied Mr Ayume for a long time and he inspires me. I know he will not come here and say anything good about me but wherever he is, tell him that I support him” Mr Kyagulanyi said on December 8th as hundreds of supporters cheered.
How would Dr Ayume respond to this latest development after repeatedly being branded ‘opposition’ by the Anite camp in the primaries? Many wondered.
“Recognition of any one’s good attributes is welcome, it speaks volumes of our development agenda and the NRM party at large” he tweeted in what many termed as a mild response.
However, this was Anite’s turn to substantiate her earlier claim, “explaining to Mzee that the new NRM gateway to Koboko is in bed with Bobi Wine and that we need to change the mobilization strategy in the area” she wrote captioning a picture of her with president Museveni.
Mr Yakani by mere fact of being independent if not FDC is supposed to be an opposition to the NRM party and its flag bearer but the Koboko municipality politics has now dictated a new discourse.
The posters of a former FDC-turned independent candidate embedded with the NRM presidential candidate as well as an opposition presidential candidate’s endorsement of a direct NRM rival creates a scene good enough for season III of ‘all eyes on me’
And yes, it’s now a question of whether Dr Ayume’s opposition or the Anite-backed opposition or vice-versa will represent Koboko municipality in parliament come 2021.