Last Updated on: 10th August 2023, 02:52 pm
Lira I The popular old expression, ”Never Say Never…” was first recorded in Charles Dickens’s Pickwick in 1837. It simply means nothing is impossible because anything can happen.
Dickens’ idiom seems to be finding a place in Lira City as early race and debates on who should be the Woman MP from 2026 becomes apparent.
A catalogue of seemingly well-calculated activities is already causing anxiety among the Lira City dwellers who are ‘sharpening’ their teeth to chew billions of cash that will be splashed by two powerful moneybag female politicians.
One does not need an anointed prophet from Nigeria or the US to foresee that the battle line is already clearly drawn between Gender, Labour and Social Development Minister Betty Amongi and Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng.
Amongi, who subscribes to the opposition UPC, is the current MP, Oyam South while Aceng (NRM) is the Lira City Woman MP. Amongi is wife to the UPC President Jimmy Akena who is also son of the former President Dr Apollo Milton Obote.
Aceng is married to a fellow medical officer Dr Andrew Alyao-Ocero who is a Commonwealth PhD scholar in Health Systems Research at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool University.
Both have strong connections with top government officials including security and President Yoweri Museveni who usually calls them his daughters.
While 2026 appears a bit distant, Uganda’s Electoral Commission chief, Justice Simon Mugenyi Byamukama has launched the country’s election roadmap in a ceremony held at Hotel African in Kampala.
In Lira City, reports already available in the public domain point to a titanic political clash with cash and might between the two powerful politicians. Both have high connections with the “powers that be”, including President Yoweri Museveni.
Very trusted sources say Amongi wants to oust Aceng from the Lira City Woman MP in 2026 as a ‘revenge’ attack on Aceng whom she accuses of alleged ‘arrogance and sabotage’.
“…someone told H.E. and cabinet that Akena Jimmy has been pushed to the village and come 2026, he will be no more! And a lot of underground movement has been, and still going on, to eliminate Betty Amongi and her husband from the politics of Lango…” reads an explicit exchange by Amongi.
The message which Amongi tactfully posted on Lango Onotte WhatsApp Group of more than 700 members before deleting, concludes with a clear warning, “…the solution is with the people of Lango come 2026. Please, leave other MPs out of the debate. It’s the people who have started the war; nobody is responsible for the reaction to the provocation…,” the powerful gender minister roared as she went bare knuckles.
As if to say action speaks louder than words, Amongi has intensified her presence in Lira City which is already causing jittery among supporters of Aceng who is considered a political darling in the City.
In less than two weeks, Amongi has featured in several church functions at the Uganda Martyrs Cathedral under Lira Catholic Diocese and Lango Diocese.
She has also had clandestine engagements with some business people, youth and women groups, and religious and cultural leaders in a bid to garner much-needed support.
During the said engagements which are ongoing, Amongi does not disappoint because each of the participants goes back with a smiling pocket leaving everyone struggling to compose a song in her praise.
Like in football where an opponent takes advantage of any blunder like a blind pass by Manchester United Harry Maguire, Amongi, acting as a senior and experienced politician, is following and bringing on board every disgruntled politician who was allegedly bruised by Aceng during the 2021 elections.
These groups of disgruntled politicians are many and scattered throughout the Lango sub-region where Aceng, apparently at the peak of her rise sponsored opponents leading to their loss.
Unlike Amongi who gives generously from the billions in her purse, Aceng is rigid and seems to be upholding her professional ethics, insisting there is no need to dish money anyhow unless somebody has done something with clear accountability.
Being a smooth operator who started her politics as a Pan African Youth leader, Amongi has already warmed the hearts of the urban poor city dwellers who are struggling with donations and more pledges.
Those familiar with Amongi who served as the Apac District Woman MP, say the legislator knows where to look before leaping, implying she will at all costs be the next Woman MP for Lira City in 2026.
“…she is like an unstoppable wave that will simply sweep more than 80% of the votes in Lira City where residents are yearning for meaningful socio-economic transformation…”, a source said on condition of anonymity.
Over the weekend, Amongi, through Northern Uganda Women’s Network for Business donated tools to 200 girls who are doing tailoring and also met members of Tecel Group at Pauline Hotel in Senior Quarters where she left everyone converted with smiling pockets.
Surprisingly, Amongi, believing there are no permanent enemies or friends in politics visited an NRM diehard Willy Omodo-Omodo who is also the Speaker Tekwaro Lango under the Paramount Chief (Won Nyaci) Eng Dr Michael Moses Odongo Okune where they discussed serious issues.
To practically illustrate the level of seriousness, Amongi again conducted dozens of consultative meetings with key political players in Lira City where she has, within a short time become a household name.
During the Sunday FUFA Drum football clash between Lango Province Vs Kigezi Province, Amongi was hand in hand with her husband Jimmy Akena at Akii Bua Stadium where she contributed shs3.6m to support the home team.
Lango thrashed the visitors 3-0.
The matter has since dominated the media especially the more than 10 local radio stations and social media platforms especially WhatsApp with divided opinions.
While some support Amongi’s move to cross to Lira City which faces numerous development challenges, others are opposed, arguing it will rob Lango of one key ministerial position.
A section of people wants elders to prevail over the two politicians for dialogue and sort out their differences instead of a suicidal political manoeuvre which will polarize the sub-region.
Former Lands Minister Daniel Omara Atubo is not comfortable with Amongi’s move, saying she should instead concentrate in her Oyam South where she has full command.
However, Dr Aceng who was among the delegation that travelled to Russia for the second Russia-Africa Summit recently downplayed Amongi’s threat of ousting her from the Lira City Woman seat.
“…why should I be scared or afraid when the Bible says those who trust in God will never be brought down by any forces of darkness…” Aceng known as a staunch Pentecostal olongkole (mulokole) said.
The political arena in Lira City is expected to be more charged in the next couple of months as Amongi tries to make inroads and while Aceng will also try to do her best to reconcile and improve on service delivery.
Latest reports say Aceng is planning a kind of Ukraine-counter offensive with a meeting of selected senior citizens and opinion leaders now ongoing at Sam Engola’s Lira Hotel.
During the planned meeting, Aceng wants the elders and opinion leaders to generate a resolution to be forwarded to the President’s office so that the position of Lira City Woman MP is ring-fenced for her come 2026.