Last Updated on: 25th June 2023, 07:46 am
Lira, Oyam, June 18, 2023: The National Resistance Movement (NRM) party delegates from Lango sub-region on Saturday, June 17, concluded their mandate.
The delegates elected Atin-kic (an orphan) Okello Samuel Engola Jr. Okello is the ‘heir apparent’ and son to the late Oyam North MP and former State Minister for Gender, Labour and Industrial Relations, Rtd Col. Charles Okello Engola Macodwogo.
Macodwogo was laid to rest on May 13 after he was assassinated on May 2, 2023, by his bodyguard Private Wilson Sabiiti. During the day of his burial, Engola Jr. was presented before the mourners and the Vice President as someone the family “anointed” to replace his dad.
However, his anointment did not go well with some NRM members and leaders. These people, including those not interested in the seat, said Lango does not believe in the politics of inheritance or favour.
Soon, those who were interested in the vacant MP seat came out and declared their interest to run against Atin-kic in both party primary elections and on July 6.
In NRM, Ambassador Julius Peter Moto, Queen Dorothy Amolo, Billie Otto; Obangakene Augustine, Bala Daniel, Willy Omodo Omodo; Okello Samuel Engola, among others picked nomination forms to vie for the party primary election to hold the flag.
In the past weeks, UPC and NUP announced their flag bearers to be nominated by the Electoral Commission starting Monday, June 19 at Oyam Town Council.
During his campaign, Obangakene told TND News he was the only qualified aspirant to carry the NRM flag. “I’ll win the Oyam North MP By-election,” he said.
Asked who was giving him sleepless nights in the race, he answered, “No one is giving me sleepless nights. I’m the one giving them sleepless nights and none of them will beat me.”
In that same interview, Obangakene vowed to contest as an independent candidate if the primary election was not free and fair.
“I’ll stand as an independent candidate if the primary election is not free and fair. I’m aware of intimidation and reports that people will be beaten.”
What did Ambassador Moto say when he announced his candidature at a press briefing in Lira City? “I’m expressing my interest to stand as a candidate in the forthcoming by-election for Oyam North Constituency.”
On the family of Engola endorsing their son, he answered, “The family does not represent the interest of the people of Oyam North and the overall electoral population of the people of Oyam.”
“I have come to offer my candidature just in case they don’t find Jr. Engola suitable for them,” he added.
To Queen Dorothy Amolo, Engola Jr. is someone not fit to replace his late father. This is what she said at a press briefing in Lira City more than three weeks ago.
“Macodwogo was my friend. We talked about everything, family and politics. I don’t hate Junior, he’s a young politician in the making but he missed an opportunity to be with an amazing father and politician that I’ve ever known.
“I still think the person to replace his father should be a person that was a friend with the father, that the father trained and brought up but not the one who disagreed in everything, another son would be a better replacement,” she added.
Amolo also stated that her exposure and connections will make her a leader to “cause changes in the community in terms of development”.
The NRM primary election held on Saturday was characterized by a handful of things. One, some groups including top party officials from the NRM party secretariat were accused on election day of taking sides.
The party Secretary-General Richard Todwong, Electoral Commission Chairman Dr Tanga Odoi and their delegation are said to have favoured Okello Samuel Engola and used their powers to influence other candidates to step down.
“What happened yesterday in Oyam was not expected of NRM party officials, especially those who came from Kampala. They forced us to support a candidate they had in mind. Why then did they allow the rest to waste their time, campaign and waste the little they have,” an aide and delegate to one of the aspirants told TND News on Saturday.
“We were aware Okello Samuel Engola would be favoured but because my candidate was the best, with massive support among the delegates it was a good thing not to give up,” the same aide added.
This publication understands that NRM party officials met with and convinced other aspirants like Billie Otto, Obangakene Augustine, Amb Julius Peter Moto, and Willy Omodo Omodo to step down for Atin-kic. In their wisdom, they obeyed their party bosses.
Only Queen Amolo never accepted to leave the race. A decision would later be made for a conventional method of election to take place.
Through his electoral powers and guidance, Dr Tanga Odoi ensured that delegates stood behind candidates of their choice. After that exercise, Okello Samuel Engola was declared the winner with 532 votes. Queen got 322 votes.
Although Obangakene had earlier said he would go independent, his close aide says, Sunday, “He has changed his mind following a consensus with top party leaders. He is waiting for another engagement with them soon.”
Shortly after she lost the race, Queen said her next step – announcing her nomination on an independent ticket with the Electoral Commission on June 19.
“I won’t stand as an independent, following my decision to step down for Engola. No special support by the party officials as of now,” says Ambassador Moto.
What TND News has exclusively been told.
A fortnight ago, the publication was told that an attempt by the NRM top officials to engage and request all aspirants interested in the seat to leave a way for Macodwogo’s son failed.
One of the aspirants said he was advised to step down because the party was ready to support and listen to the recommendation by the family as announced by Kwania MP, Tonny Ayo during the burial.
“I was called and told the caller, see, ‘I have spent already and I think I have massive support’ and why must I step down?”
“The party is looking into that and to reimburse whatever amount has been spent by you and others in the race,” the former aspirant quoted the person – he said told him he was calling from the party secretariat.
“I have been told to wait for a posting opportunity and reimbursement for the amount I have spent and that our situation and willingness to step down will be discussed with the party national chairman who is also the president.”
Asked how much he has spent, he said, “I have spent close to shs10m.”
Two senior officials at NRM told this publication on conditions of anonymity that each of those who stepped down for Okello will be compensated shs50m each.
The amount, according to one of the officials, will cover a transport refund to Kampala (party secretariat) for picking nomination forms, meals and refreshments, among others.