The Speaker of the 11thParliament Rt.Hon. Jacob L’okori Oulanyah was in Kamuli District on Saturday, November 20 on a visit that has sparked debate in Busoga region and evoked political rivalry that was hitherto left to whispers.
Oulanyah was chief Guest at the memorial prayers for the late Kamuli Municipality MP Rehema Watongola who died during last year’s campaigns.
This only preceded a thanksgiving fete for the victory of the current MP Baroda Watongola, daughter of the deceased.
Oulanyah broke Kamuli’s political hymen making his highly publicized visit historical and a new opening to the district represented by her predecessor Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga who has held on for the last two decades.
The political rivalry between the Watongola family and Kadaga is more than a decade old from the times of the late Ahmed Kawugu Kawoya Mugaino, Rehema Watongola once contested against Kadaga for the woman MP slot. It was the letter ‘Js’ (Justine Kasule Lumumba and Jacob L’okori Oulanyah)’s who nibbled Kadaga loyalists in the bud while rejuvenating her rivals’ spirits.
First was Hajj Badru Watongola who was ecstatic and failed to speak until later when Lumumba sung him a lullaby that he spoke, and when he spoke, he sounded venomous calling the Speaker by name thrice in expression of disbelief that Oulanyah had finally made his way to the backyard of his predecessor and nemesis.
He asserted that President Museveni hasn’t given Kamuli anything in his last three decades of leadership save for what the district has achieved through their Woman MP and former Speaker Rebecca Kadaga amidst applause that left Oulanyah visibly shocked.
It was simply sarcastic but misunderstood, until Lumumba, then followed former Secretary General now Minister for General Duties in the OPM.
First, she welcomed the speaker to Kamuli after acknowledging the leadership of Bunya South’s Idd Isabirye as Chairperson of the Busoga Parliamentary caucus.
Secondly, she spoke of relief as MPs chorused “Now I can breathe….”, the expression of celebration for Kadaga’s ouster from the Speakership.
Lumumba enumerated Museveni achievements in Kamuli and Busoga, called for unity and reconciliation saying the region was tired of royal supremacy talk of who is a more musoga than the other.
With such remarks and thunderous applause, Lumumba left the audience charged for the Speaker.
The day’s master of ceremonies Solomon Baleke punctuated the function with rivalry remarks as if to celebrate a major achievement, anxiety was growing over anticipation of what Oulanyah would say.
He responded briefly to a local gig, hailed Hajj Badru Watongola, Abubakar Walubi and Siraji Gusongoirye for breaking ground for him in Busoga, this was a major revelation added to Thomas Kategere and a one Magaya, renowned Kadaga critics.
Oulanyah said that he was in Kamuli with an open palm for peace calling on Kamuli and Busoga leaders to unite and work for the people as their main focus at all leadership levels.
He promised his support to pro – people undertakings by MPs from the region. But as he said this half the number of Mps from Busoga had skipped the function they viewed as an attack on the home of their kingmaker.
The Idd Isabirye – led group had 26 legislators in attendance and 10 sending apologies he read out before announcing a 20m shillings contribution for the fete.
His rival group had missed the opportunity to assert their authenticity had they attended the function in their capacity and welcomed Oulanyah in his speakership capacity, and therefore their boss.
Instead, Bugabula South MP Maurice Kibalya followed in one of the WhatsApp groups and vowed to pay back all those who organized the function threatening to punish former Secretary General Justine Kasule Lumumba and her accomplishes (sic) for allowing Oulanyah in Kamuli.
They had scratched the lioness of Busoga, how dare..!.
The dropping of both Lumumba from the position of NRM Secretary General and Kadaga from speakership by Museveni, left the region politically orphaned.
Kadaga loyalists blamed Lumumba for their loss and Lumumba supporters counter accused Kadaga of failing the SG’s work by keeping the region divided along supremacy rivalries resulting from the embarrassing defeat of Kaguta’s son by the National Unity Platform maestro Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu in the presidential vote.
Museveni is believed to have punished Lumumba for this performance when he dumped her in the OPM as one of the “fishermen”.
It was a punishment indeed, how would you retire a brand politician like Lumumba to the political chagrin at the age of 48!
Many locals in Busoga have to date failed to understand what Lumumba is Minister for. Hajjati Lukia Nakadama is just returned from political limbo, she was among a list of those read out in 2015 to be fighting then speaker.
Busoga is missing a political father figure given the minimal gains of the women – led dominance of the area’s politics in Kadaga, Lumumba, Namuganza, Nakadama, Esther Mbayo and now Milly Babalanda in vain.
Busoga has never united politically under Museveni’s reign and it gets bogged down by the “supremacy” syndrome always.
This stems from political placements and personal egos, Dr.Specioza Kazibwe Vs BasoghaNsadhu and George Patrick Bageya(RIP) against the Kirunda Kivejinja – led function of Ahmed Kawugu Kawooya Mugaino alongside the NgobiKiregeya Vs Henry Waako Muloki contest for the Kyabazingaship.
To the Kadaga – Namuganza – Lumumba feud alongside the HRH Gabula Nadiope Vs HRH Edward Columbus Wambuzi fight for the top cultural seat and now the emerging rift of Hajj Idd Isabirye (Bunya South) Vs Stephen Kissa (Luuka South) over the leadership of the Busoga Parliamentary caucus, Busoga has never settled.
President Museveni who would be the uniting factor in the circumstances is the pivot of the divisions and disunity and seems to have witnessed so much of this disunity that he’s become used and plays with it to his advantage.
Oulanyah would therefore be the most suited leader of this time to unite the region if only he held the 44 legislators from this region together. But his visit that was boycotted by all the four opposition MPs from the region alongside their NRM counterparts loyal to Oulanyah’s predecessor is so big a test for the Speaker to pass.
Moris Kibalya has already warned him to stick to Acholi Parliamentary caucus and leave Busoga alone adding that Oulanyah who promised to help Busoga has failed in Omoro!
Among the locals, what matters is what they get from the central government in terms of social services, the occupants of which office is secondary bother.
Oulanyah’s visit was in a way an endorsement of the Idd Isabirye group against the Kissa – led faction endorsed by Kadaga a few months ago.
26 Busoga MPs met and voted their Bunya South counterpart Idd Isabirye but days later 12 others me to elect Stephen Kissa of Luuka South as parallel chairman of Busoga Parliamentary caucus. Among the population Idd Isabirye enjoys majority support but only in the context of those who want the feud to last.
Rebecca Kadaga is so much revered by those who believe in her and hated by those opposed to her dominance of the regions political space in equal measure.
She has fought with unending battles with her perceived haters throughout her political journey, the list only grows.
Busoga’s politics is that delicate, will Jacob L’okori Oulanyah who was just last week renamed Jacob Watongola L Oulanyah measure up to father the region?
Next week I will discuss the big heads in the new fights bringing Kadaga and Lumumba back to the war front.
Sir Simon Muyanga Lutaaya is a media consultant, writer and Lecturer of media studies.