‘Millions bamboozle and the loss-and-loss’ of Dokolo NRM flag-bearer Elau

(Last Updated On: 28 March 2024)

What to know:

  • On March 21, UPC candidate Aguti Sarah Nyangkori was elected and declared Dokolo woman MP-Elect after obtaining 23,044 votes.
  • NRM’s Adongo Janet Rose Elau came second with 14,001 votes. Third was Dr Rosemary Alwoc Ogwal of FDC with 8168 votes.
  • Two of the Independent candidates: Akullu Esther Obot (790 votes) and Arao Rebecca (439 votes) were NRM-leaning.
  • Ageno Harriet of NUP obtained 727 votes.  

Before the Dokolo district woman MP by-election was held on March 21, key issues in the ruling NRM camp needed to be sorted out for her candidate, Janet Adong Elau, to be successful.

Elau, tndNews understands, was facing unprecedented setbacks within her party in a quest to replace the late woman MP, Cecelia Atim Ogwal.

“In carrying the yellow flag, she was feeling overwhelmed and rejected by those who were supposed to push her. She was drained,” Elau’s key member of her campaign team told tndNews last week.

From the onset, this member said it was “visibly certain that the NRM in general would lose in Dokolo”. Asked why? The reply was, “My boss also our flag bearer did her best. Unfortunately, she at last got a double loss.”

tndNews would later be told that money, in millions, played a key role in Elau’s loss to the extent that some senior party leaders in Dokolo and from the secretariat “gained more”.

After days of trying to reach her for a comment, on March 27, tndNews Milton Emmy Akwam succeeded in getting the former NRM candidate on the phone. First, I asked her how the campaigns went, the mentioned internal conflicts in the party and her loss:

“Generally, it went on well. The only challenge that probably led to the loss of NRM is: that we had so many NRM-leaning candidates, and all those people divided the votes. It was unfortunate. At the last minute, some of the NRM independent candidates stood down in the pretence that they were standing down in favour of the flag bearer.


“So, when they stood down in favour of the flag bearer (I am calling it a pretence) because they never came with their supporters and even when they showed their faces that they were now supporting me – back at the end – in the evening and whatever the time when they were alone, they were reconnecting with their teams and telling them ‘do not vote the candidate, vote opposition’.

“That is basically what led to the loss of that opportunity to NRM. After a lot of in-house fighting, other candidates did not want to let it go even if they pretended before the President that they had surely stepped down, but they did not actually step down. They stepped down on their face but their people did not step down. So, those were the people who went and added into the votes of the opposition otherwise that opposition did not have the capacity to win if NRM had actually come out as NRM.”

Asked about the contribution or the support she got from the NRM team that came from Kampala and how significant their presence was in Dokolo, she answered, “Mainly the RDCs came in and supported sub-counties”. “We went to sub-counties and it was one day: they were there for like one day, two days…because a lot had already happened in the communities which was probably very hard for them to find the answer.

“I personally got support in bits and pieces that could not make me consolidate the grounds properly. Yes, I got some support [shs100m] from the President [Chairman of the NRM party] which support I was told to give 50% to top up the shs 200, 000 per village. I gave about shs48.4m.”

Each of the over 484 villages’ structures was budgeted to get shs300, 000. However, the secretariat “only had shs200, 000 per village” before Elau said she was asked to use part of the money Museveni sent to her to top up.

Was it a mandate that you contribute shs48m? I asked her. It was not a mandate that I gave but it was during a planning meeting and the team that was planning said the shs200, 000 per village was not enough. So, because they were aware that I was given some support by the President, I was told to top up shs100, 000 on top of the shs200, 000 to make shs300, 000.

“At the last minute, I didn’t have money on my own. Remember I had a lot of people in my family, I had so many things, the meeting was very difficult; I had to look around for money to sustain myself by the time they said go and campaign.”

Candidate Elau walks into the crowd on March 19.

You talked about support from the President which equals shs100m but also tndNews got information that the President ‘gave’ a team from the secretariat shs900m of which shs100m was supposed to be given to you. Are you aware of shs900m?

“That one you can confirm from them [the secretariat] because they did not disclose how much money was given to them to give me. How much money was given to them as shs900m, I don’t know; you can confirm from them because there was not a single day that they told me ‘we were given this amount of money for the campaign’. They never told me how much money was given to them for the campaign.

“The money they gave me: I was first given shs20m, then I was given shs10m, then I was given shs3m; then I was given shs20m. It was in bits and pieces and came close to shs70m. I was not given a lump sum, I was given bits and pieces of money – In instalments let me use that English.”

Who exactly was giving you this money?

The first shs20m was put on my account from the secretariat, the shs10m was also put on my account then the other remaining money was given to me in instalments by the director of mobilization [Rosemary Seninde].

On March 16, this publication contacted Naham Medina, director of finance of NRM to find out if she was aware of the shs900m the President also national chairman of the party ‘gave for Dokolo and flag bearer. She declined to talk much.

“I’m not in Dokolo, I’m in West Nile supervising membership registration. I’m not aware. Talk to the director of mobilization for more,” she said.

When pressed further to find out if she was not aware there was ‘another shs100m’ for her, the former flag bearer said she was not informed. “The only information I got was that the secretariat gives shs50m, not shs100m and they said they don’t give in a lump sum, they give it in instalments and that is exactly what happened. The instalment came as and when I needed it and on the last day because the pressure on the ground was too much.”

On what exactly she would tell the President if they were to meet again, she said: “Of course, if I could have a chance of meeting the President, I have personal things that I will talk about with him [I will not talk about them on phone] but I will share with him directly.

Also read: Dokolo Decides – UPC: ‘We’re inspired and guided by Oyam North by-election victory’

“The other thing maybe I would request from the President is: ‘I resigned from my job and I don’t have what to do’. So, if the President could find an appointment for me to be able to sustain my family. I used the family money, I borrowed money, and I am in a difficult moment.

Elau disclosed that the Dokolo by-election has left her with a “personal debt of about shs170m”. “So, that is it, anyway.”

Rosemary Seninde speaks

Asked about her reflection on Dokolo in comparison to Oyam North politics and the two by-elections’ defeats, Seninde said on Wednesday, March 28, that one thing that must not be taken for granted is that the people of Lango still have loyalty to their former son [the late Obote]. “That is why there is still that loyalty to the UPC; probably that is what I think.

“But [another thing that I really saw], there was a lot of propaganda by our opposition colleagues. A lot of propaganda in terms of issues to do with the people who lost their cattle, there was a lot of propaganda around that – which I think was not right because the NRM government has done quite a lot in terms of compensating people who lost their cows. Almost every financial year there is some amount of money put for those regions that got affected and Dokolo or Lango sub-region is not spared.

“Secondly, the programs that the NRM government has put in place: the Parish Development Model, Emyooga. Yes, not everybody has got by now but people need to remember that the NRM government is still in power for the next two and half years. We are still in power and the promise to the people of Uganda in terms of our flagship programs will reach almost everybody who is supposed to be a beneficiary. Of course not everyone has to be a beneficiary – if there are categories of people that are beneficiaries.

Also read: Museveni’s ‘strategic tactics to salvage PDM program’ from crooks

Seninde insisted that propaganda contributed a lot to the NRM loss in Dokolo even when “they tried to tell people the truth and make them appreciate it”. “Much as we did that, probably it even helped our candidate to get the votes she got. If we hadn’t done that maybe it would have been worse.”

According to Seninde, the opposition, without citing a particular one, “brought in a lot of people from outside”.

Did they cast their votes? Akwam asks her. “I don’t know. Then what was the purpose of ferrying people?” she replied, adding: “But all in all, we congratulate the one who won. UPC is not a hostile party to NRM. If anything, they are our counterparts. So, we congratulate them.”

Asked how supportive the NRM secretariat and her team were towards candidate Elau, and the visibility on the ground before the polling date, the mobilization boss, said: “Of course, NRM has always supported her flag bearers whether during by-elections or the general elections. We supported our flag bearer [Elau] but of course, the NRM does not support 100%.

“What I want to make it very clear is that much as the NRM supports the campaigns, we do not facilitate it 100%. Of course, it has activities that it facilitates like the committees that are supposed to help with the work, committees of the district; facilitates the candidate, the villages and many other activities.

“What we give to the candidate may never be enough, you know…depending on all the dynamics of the constituency.

Akwam asked Seninde how much was given to candidate Elau. “I don’t think this is the right forum to ask,” she replied.

Again she was asked: You are in charge of mobilization and some issues have come up after the winner was announced. It’s established that the President and the Chairman of the NRM party contributed shs100m to the flag bearer of which she had to give shs48.4m to the secretariat team on the ground [in Dokolo] to top up shs200,000 for village mobilization teamsHow true if this?

“No, that one I don’t know. We had already facilitated the village mobilizations; we made a contribution of shs200, 000. So, if the candidate added another shs100, 000, we thank her for that.”

Asked if she is still aware there was a planning meeting held in Dokolo and Elau was asked to top up shs100, 000 for the 484 villages, she replied: “I think you are going too far with what you are asking. I don’t know what value they add to what you want to get.

This is just getting facts right from you as a person who was on the ground,” Akwam said to her. Seninde responded: “I think I have given you sufficient information. For more information, you can get the candidate.”

The NRM candidate [former] she referred me to strongly insisted that the money deposited in her account from the party national chairman, Museveni, nearly half of it, the senior leaders included for village mobilization teams.

If the NRM secretariat gave the flag bearer close to shs70m in bits and pieces as she described, how much did they have in the purse for Dokolo by-election? If shs900m was the money assigned for Dokolo, where did the balance go?

In trying to get answers to some of the above questions, the NRM boss said the interview was not the right forum to give accountability.

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