The battle for Omoro County

The battle for Omoro County

NRM's Andrew Ojok Oulanya campaigning in Omoro country (Photo Courtesy)

The battle for Omoro County

The battle to replace the late Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanya as Member of Parliament for Omoro County in Omoro district has intensified after six candidates of the twelve aspirants that had picked nomination forms were nominated. Four of the six nominated candidates are being sponsored by political parties while two are independent.

The nominated candidates include; Mr. Andrew Ojok Oulanya (son of the late Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanya) of National Resistance Movement (NRM), Mr. Simon Toolit Akecha of National Unity Platform (NUP), Oscar Kiiza of Alliance for National Transformation (ANT), Mr. Justin Odong Obiya of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Mr. Jimmy Walter Onen an independent, and Odonga Terence (Independent).

Some of the aspirants that picked nomination forms and did not return them include Mr. Denis Dick Owani (FDC), Mr. Ryan Kamya of Justice Forum (JEEMA), Ms. Grace Jore Obot (Independent), and Andrew Okot an Independent. It is alleged that money was used to buy off some of these aspirants and that is the reason they did not return the nomination forms to Electoral Commission.

Who is leading the spending wars?

The spending wars are big on campaign administration and paraphernalia like posters. SecretsKnown has learnt that the NRM entourage led by the secretary-general Rt. Hon Richard Todwong has camped in Gulu city and always drives to Omoro County in a convoy of vehicles to meet voters. All the costs of accommodation, feeding, and fueling the vehicles these persons use are said to be coming from the NRM secretariat, Speaker of Parliament, and the President who is expected to be in Omoro, 20th May 2022 to campaign for the NRM candidate. It’s alleged that the NRM entourage has approximately UGX 15billion ($4.1 million) at their disposal for ensuring they win this by-election.  

SecretsKnown has also learnt that the National Unity Platform (NUP) candidate, Mr. Simon Tolit Akecha bought two ambulances and a drone which he donated to the community of Omoro County. The leading spenders in the Omoro race by ranking so far is as follows, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) comes first and secondly followed by National Unity Platform.

What caused the mysterious disappearance of the initial FDC aspirant?

In April, FDC identified Mr. Denis Dick Owani as its flagbearer for the Omoro County by-election. Its allegedly reported the FDC candidate Mr. Denis Dick Owani was kidnapped a day before nomination day and he lost touch with his FDC counterparts. This forced FDC as a party to fill in and nominate a substitute flag bearer in the last minutes. There are allegations from FDC stalwarts on the ground that Mr. Denis Dick Owani decided to kidnap himself after being bought off with UGX 150 million ($41,000) by the National Resistance Movement. The NRM chairman of Omoro district in an interview with one of the news dailies dismissed this allegation as lies and propaganda being fronted by FDC. The politics of buying off political opponents is no stranger to Uganda and chances are high that even the initial FDC flagbearer was bought off.

AOL business community kingmakers of Omoro politics?

AOL (Acet Odek Lalogi) business community is the most powerful and influential business community in Omoro district.  They are perceived to be kingmakers of the politics in Omoro district in the sense that once the political candidate has their support, the chances of winning are high.  The National Unity Platform candidate is said to be a member of the AOL business community and that his campaign is being bankrolled by them.

Wang-oo” vote-buying havens

SecretsKnown was informed that “wang-oo” an Acholi word that means campfire has become the central point, where money exchanges hands between candidates and voters. The people who come together at “Wang-oo” are said to be mainly elders who have influence in the politics of Omoro district.

RDC at the scene of abuse of state resources

There are reported cases of the Residential District Commissioner of Omoro district, Mr. Andrew Onyuk publicly using government vehicles to campaign for the NRM candidate. He has also updated his Facebook profile with the campaign poster of the NRM candidate. This has aroused debate among some locals, some are of the opinion that the RDC as an individual has a right to support any candidate so long as he does not use government resources. Others think the RDC as a public servant should be apolitical and should concentrate on his mandate. The involvement of an RDC in the campaigns is an indication of total disregard for the rule of law and constitutionalism in Uganda which is contributing to electoral integrity deficits.

Who is leading the war on visibility, media publicity?

The National Resistance Movement and National Unity Platform candidates are leading the war on visibility when it comes to campaign regalia and paraphernalia such as posters that have been placed on doors, trees, and signposts.  The other candidate with visible posters is FDC’s Justin Odong Obiya of Forum for Democratic Change. The other candidates are not all that visible on ground with posters.

What do voters say?

The voters in Omoro County are bickering on a number of issues that they are likely to base on to vote for their next member of parliament come 26th May 2022. These issues comprise the question of nodding disease, unclear circumstances on the cause of death of the former speaker, and the infrastructure in the district, especially the roads and schools. Though those are the issues raised, money is also said to be one of the factors that will determine the electoral outcome. 

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