BUDUDA – This week, PML Daily looks at Manjiya County in Bududa district, where incumbent Mr John Baptist Nambeshe [now in People Power] will re-face his former friend become an enemy and former minister Mr David Wakikona.
Former State Minister of Trade in the ruling NRM government Mr David Wakikona, whose career came crashing down dramatically in 2016 after losing to his close ally and friend, the LCV chairman Mr John Baptist Nambeshe is giving Manjiya County another show.
Mr Wakikona had gone into political marriage with Mr Nambeshe to defeat then the LCV chairman Mr Wilson Watira who had been also a very close friend and campaign manager for the minister for close to ten years.
But barely five years later in 2016 Mr Nambeshe then LCV chairman who had already fallen out with Mr Wakikona on a number of occasions declared his intention to unseat the then-popular minister in the constituency.
And like it did happen, Mr Nambeshe floored the then minister of state for cooperatives Mr David Wakikona in 2016 general elections.
Now five years in the doldrums of politics, Mr Wakikona once mired in the depths of NRM politics has now a good shot of returning to elected office in Manjiya constituency.
The ongoing purge in political parties in Uganda is precipitating bad talk both in social media and in normal circles that is likely to see the ruling NRM government use police to orchestrate a campaign to frustrate other parties in 2021 parliamentary.
But a new viable opponent, Mr Stephen Wabusani also aspiring for the same constituency is keen to highlight the former minister’s political baggage from a long career as an NRM insider – and tar him as out of touch with the mainstream of the modern politics because of his age.
Mr Wabusani says despite being held in high regard within the national politics as a minister, Mr Wakikona will nonetheless go down in the books of history as a politician who betrayed his people, and a leader who knew what needed to be done but still chose to look the other way.
“If there is anything Mr Wakokona forgot in Parliament, please I am going to bring it for him. We want him to rest at home, keep way from stress and we give him whatever he wants to get from Parliament or Kampala,” said Mr Wabusani, who has now won the hearts of many in Manjiya constituency.
Mr Wabusani works as a senior commercial officer at the ministry of trade and industry, he worked as a Nusaf desk officer, a project that he successfully implemented in Bududa, he worked as a camp commandant in Bulucheke landslide refugee camp and worked as an Assistant Secretary as a volunteer at Bukibokolo sub-county.
A major battle pitting Bagisu leaders is fast shaping up in Manjiya County, with each seeking to exploit the other’s weak points to score points as they eye control of the hundreds of votes in Manjiya County in Bududa district.
Mr Wabusani who commands a lot of support from Manjiya County now puts Mr Wakikona’s chances of going back at stake as many a voter remark “The minister was just bent on dividing people, he does not forgive and he is also reaping from what he sowed.
It is also on record that the NRM leaders in Bududa in 2011 petitioned President Yoweri Museveni over an alleged intrigue orchestrated by Mr Wakikona then State Minister for trade something they say is likely to have an impact on his re-election as an MP.
It is now official Mr Wakikona and his political nemesis, Mr Nambeshe and Mr Wilson Watira are going for each other’s jugular in their pursuit of supremacy in Manjiya County, a few months to the 2021 general Election.
“And I want to insist like in 2016, nobody is going to sympathise with Mr Wakikona, I am going for votes from the electorate but this time under People Power group because NRM seems to think that I a m rebel MP,” said Mr Nambeshe, the incumbent MP for Manjiya County.
Mr Wabusani says that the people of Bududa are not interested in preserving the status quo; they want to overthrow it this time to give Bududa a better direction on the road to development.
He revealed that the people of Bududa have been used for long and that he believes that man is a reality, mankind an abstraction; that men cannot be treated as units in operations of political arithmetic because they behave like the symbols for zero and the infinite, which dislocate all mathematical operations.
“And I want to say that the will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach my full potential are the keys that will unlock the door to my personal excellence in Manjiya County,” said Mr Wabusani.
Mr Wabusani comes into the race with a slogan “This is take off time”, we have been gathering speed and strength and Manjiya constituency is ready to take off, we shall crash everyone in the vicinity as long as we are in take-off stage and adds that he has gathered speed and is ready to guide Manjiya on the road to development.
He revealed that on the ground there is talk that “President Museveni has sent Mr Wakikona” Does the president know the problems of Bududa? Does he know that Mr Wakikona is the one who divided NRM in Bududa and does he know that under Mr Wakikona’s eyes Bududa fell in the hands of Mr Nambeshe who has been a problem to the NRM?
But as the race to the general polls in 2021 draws near, Mr Wabusani, now the darling of NRM party in the district is hankering for the Manjiya County seat on the NRM ticket with others like Mr Abdu Mutanje, Mr Hussen Matanda [RDC Kumi and Mr Kigai Wamoto [RDC Namisindwa], Mr Wilson Watira, the incumbent LCV chairman and former Minister Mr David Wakikona.
While Mr Wamboko Kituno Peter [A lawyer based in Kampala] has chosen to go it independent line as Mr JB Nambeshe goes into the race through the People Power.
Mr Wabusani says that Mr Nambeshe has failed to deliver; he has been a good speaker for opposition especially after becoming a rebel to his own party NRM, Yes he has spoken but words have not helped the local people of Bududa that is why there is need to replace him,” said Mr Wabusani.
Mr Wabusani says he would lobby for an increase in the Youth fund [YLP] and women fund [UWEP]. “I know that it is still too low to create any change and I will champion the lobbying to ensure that it is increased to do the right thing,” he added.
Mr Wabusani, whose team has started traversing villages for support, says she hopes to promote reconciliation, unity and provide effective leadership that will not seek to unite Bududa under one leadership.
“The former MP failed and the incumbent has failed, our MPs have failed and that is why I have come to rescue my people,” said Mr Wabusani.
Mr Wabusani is laying strategy to start supporting village women savings groups and SACCOs to help people kick out poverty at their homesteads and this will make Manjiya County a hotly contested constituency.
Mr Kituno Peter Wamboko [Lawyer] another contestant says Bududa has suffered because of NRM politics and he has pledged to unite all people on the road to development and fighting poverty.
As he joins the race for a second time, Mr Wamboko has promised to lay down a programme of action for health and social services, Agriculture and poverty alleviation.
“I have laid down a programme for the youth. There is a need to find simple alternative sources of income which former minister failed and I am ready to champion change in Manjiya constituency,” Mr. Wamboko says.
PML Daily has discovered that despite his strides, Mr Wakikona made some political blunders in 2006 that cost him the seat in 2016 and these mistakes still linger in the mind of some of his voters who feel he does not deserve another chance.
But there are those who believe he deserves another chance especially those who got money from him and the close allies who think that President Museveni will still make him a minister in the next cabinet should he go through the elections.
Mr Wamboko has promised to give money to women groups for income-generating activities, he promised to distribute sewing machines and to lobby for programmes that will benefit the disabled across the district.
“It pains when we see our children failing examinations and nothing tangible is done to improve. This is what we want improved to fight illiteracy,”
Other new candidates in the race are also making their agenda and priorities known to the constituents as they eye the Manjiya County seat.
Mr Abdu Mutanje Muloli [NRM] says his priority is set on improving roads within Manjiya County besides the traditional roles of legislating.
“One of the things I am concerned about is the increased presence of bad roads in the district and I am one MP who would present a case for the roads in the constituency,” said Mr Mutanje.
He explained that he know that there many people making promises that they are not going to fulfill but that he will fulfill all promises mad in the constituency once elected.
Mr Mutanje, a soft-talking politician, whose entry into the parliamentary race has been received with mixed feelings, has pledged to initiate income-generating activities for the women and reduce unemployment among the youth.
He says that his manifesto is hinged on what he has called “The big five-HEARS” Health, Education, Agriculture, Rural infrastructure and Service Delivery and that he believes with the big five, Manjiya county and Bududa district will be transformed.
To most residents, Mr Mutanje would make a good legislator basing on his experience but others say he is too soft to handle multi-party politics in Uganda today where NRM still commands a lot of supporter and does not allow other parties to exercise their rights.
Mr Wabusani whose parliamentary race seem to be moving in the right direction says he will ensure HCIIIs in the constituency operate expectant mothers and lobby for ambulances to LCIII health centres to quickly refer expectant mothers.
Mr Silas Kutosi, an opinion leader in Nakatsi sub-county says they have been looking for an MP who would fill the gap ever since Mr Wakikona went away and that they have got it in Mr Wabusani.
“He carries everything an MP is supposed to have, we are happy that he comes at the time the district is yearning for representation, he is a man who has been on ground and understands our problems and Mr Wabusani worked in Bududa, worked at commandant officer at Bulucheke mudslide camp, he worked as an a volunteer assistant secretary in Bukibokolo sub-county, , he worked as Nusaf desk officer at Bududa district, a project that was successfully implemented, this is the man we shall go with,” said Mr Kutosi.
Mr Abas Makwa from Bufukhula parish in Bushiribo sub-county says Mr Wabusani has promised to lay down a programme of action for health and social services, Agriculture and poverty alleviation.
“Look at his manifesto, he has laid down a programme for the youth and he thinks that there is need to find simple alternative sources of income for the people of Manjiya county and Bududa as a district, this is spot on because we are stuck in poverty,” said Mr Makwa, a local councilor and opinion leaders in Bushiribo sub-county.
“We have had Mr Wakikona for long, we need a change because when he came we expected a lot but now it is not there, we can’t vote for him, we need to try another person. The minister promised employment and education for our children but none was employed during his reign, nothing has come. We actually need a change,” said Mr Abneli Nakhosi from Bushika sub-county.
But as he seeks a return to politics, Mr Wakikona is promising to continue seeking for avenues of uniting the people of Bududa, lobby for development in the district and transform the district by engaging farmers to diversify the agriculture production for better income.
It remains to be seen if voters will accept Mr Wakikona again, but the fact that he is even talking about a comeback speaks volumes about what politics is “It is like witchcraft where those who are there don’t want to leave and those who go out want to get back”
But Mr Phoeba Lubango, a former LCV councilor says as residents of Bududa, they are waiting to see if their leaders will allow people to act together through institutionalized procedures to resolve differences, to conciliate diverse interests and values in the pursuit of common purposes for the benefit of the local people.
She explained that on matters development, the local politicians should learn to make use of their budgets instead of pleading with President Museveni for projects in their constituencies.
“Our MPs most times are busy going to the President to ask for development projects when they have budgets to implement. Our MPs should implement the budgets and stop wasting time going to president Museveni for help,” she said.
“We had Mr Wakikona for long, we need a change because when he came we expected a lot but throughout his reign we got nothing, we even regretted why we voted him. True, we need to try another person but it is not just a matter of trying, we need a person who is going to help our people to fight poverty and develop,” said Ms Eseza Watsemwa, a voter in Shikholo town council.
She said the constituency now needs a person who is going to lobby for employment and education for our children, poverty alleviation programmes in the district, a person who is going to lobby for youth-friendly and women-friendly programmes.
Mr Abdulla Wamono from Bukibokolo sub-county believes Mr Wakikona made a considerable contribution during his tenure as MP between 2001 and 2016 and he has promised to vote him again to parliament.
“Apart from the various divisions created politically across the district, we need to continue with a man who made some contribution to the district and that is Mr Wakikona,” said Mr Wamono.
Mr Wabusani maintains that most political conflicts are rooted in a diverse population having different perspectives about how to achieve good things, or at least perceived goods.
Mr Wabusani’s consistency in preaching development, good health services for the rural woman, as become a magic bullet that is enabling him win support across the constituency.
Local political analysts say that many people see him as a messiah who has come to end their suffering since was educated in the district, worked with the district and knows the problems affecting the people of Bududa
He actually says “I stand up to for my people and I refuse to be used by the powerful.”