KOBOKO – The National Resistance Movement (NRM) will Friday this week determine its flag-bearers for the 2021 general election that is just a couple of months away.
Like father like son, the old adage goes, and the emergence of Dr Charles Ayume, son to distinguished former Attorney General Francis Ayume has taken the hitherto looking stable investments minister Evelyn Anite like a storm.
Mr Anite the poster girl of the NRM succession politics that seeks to secure President Yoweri Museveni’s position at the top even when everybody around the big man seems to murmur that he should be leading the way out, finds herself fighting back against a formidable and well calculated bid by Dr Ayume, himself a very well accomplished professional and state insider for sometime.
Being born to West Nile’s noble son Francis Ayume and Elizabeth Ayume, a former Resident District Commissioner (RDC) for the same area, one would imagine that perhaps Dr Ayume has found himself in the gutters of West Nile politics because of the larger than life image and the indelible mark his father left in the politics of West Nile and the country.
“It was just a matter of time before I jumped into the political fray. In 2011, I was asked by my people to run as MP but decided to concentrate on my career as a medical doctor,” he says, albeit in a hymn that many a politician tend to recite.
“Of course, I have tapped into the legacy of my father but when you are going into something, you have to have conviction,” the jovial medic adds.
Dr Ayume was only 24 and had just completed his medical training when his father tragically met his death in Nakasongola District on the Kampala-Gulu highway in 2004 in arguably one of the death moments that have sent shock waves across the country. Ayume served as Solicitor General, Attorney General and Speaker of Parliament from 1997 to 2001. He represented Koboko County in Parliament from 1996 until his death.
Sixteen years after his father’s demise and with Koboko becoming a fully-fledged district, Ayume’s son is seeking leadership in the district that his father so ably represented and is giving investment State Minister Evelyn Anite sleepless nights.
Dr. Ayume who has been working with the State House Health Monitoring Team for the last 16 years, resigned his job to vie for the NRM party ticket. He says the decision to contest for the Koboko Municipality parliamentary seat is informed by his desire to empower youth and women and residents through providing educational opportunities once elected.
He boasts of support from President Yoweri Museveni and elders in the municipality who he claims have okayed his candidature because they want change in the municipal leadership. Dr Ayume has been combing the ground and used his State House connection to lobby for the district. He recently donated four solar systems to Koboko hospital that was facing a challenge of lack of sufficient electricity due to frequent power outages from the main supplier, the West Nile rural electrification company.
The entrance of Dr. Ayume into the political arena has piled pressure on Anite and split NRM voters. Some of the voters look at Ayume as the true replacement of his father who served as speaker in the late 1990s. However, other voters say Anite fought hard to bring municipal status for the tinny border town of Koboko, which suffered massive destruction during the 1979 insurgency.
Anite contends that her achievements for Koboko Municipality in the last five years speak loud for her politically. She also boasts of being the first MP in the entire West Nile region to accomplish all that she promised her electorate. Anite who was given the moniker ‘yellow girl’ because of her unwavering loyalty to the NRM party and her daring act when she knelt and moved a motion in the NRM Caucus in 2014, endorsing President Museveni as the party’s sole presidential candidate for the 2016 polls has hitherto been seen as a regime blue-eyed girl and was even rewarded with a ministerial position.
Well known for not mincing words, Anite in 2018 warned age limit detractors to tread carefully assuring them that ‘they had the magye’ only to be heard early last year crying out loud and claiming that the mafia wanted to devour her over her involvement to ‘rescue’ ailing Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL). She alleged that the people after her life were connected to the President and that they had, among other things, raised an army of “young men” to seduce her into bed and take nude photos of her in order to embarrass her. Her loud cry attracted sympathy and scorn in equal measure with several people telling her to invoke the intervention of her ‘magye’.
Anite who has also on several occasions linked Dr Ayume’s challenge to the mafia was recently on the spotlight for leading a huge procession through Koboko Municipality in total contravention of the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health as a way of combating the deadly corona pandemic that is wrecking havoc in the entire globe. Anite had led a procession within Koboko, a day earlier, purportedly to celebrate the acquisition of an ambulance by Koboko Municipality. She later came out and denied being part of the procession.
In protest, Ayume’s supporters marched through Koboko town defacing and burning posters and billboards of Evelyn Anite. The police responded by firing teargas at the crowd, who in turn became rowdy and pelted stones at the officers injuring at least four of the police officers and one of the officers is nursing a fractured limb. Three civilians were also injured in the fracas and were admitted at a private health facility in Koboko town. Minister Anite condemned actions by Dr Ayume’s supporters describing it as a sign of defeat and pure criminality. Police swung into action and arrested over ten people for masterminding the chaos.