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The new faces of NRM

On Monday, the NRM Central Executive Committee approved President Museveni’s choices for secretary general, deputy secretary general, treasurer, deputy treasurer and chairperson of the electoral commission.

The appointees will be confirmed by the party’s National Executive Committee in January. Sulaiman Kakaire profiles the new appointees.

Justine Kasule Lumumba – secretary general

Born in 1972, she has been Woman MP for Bugiri district since 2001.

Before joining Parliament, she worked as a senior education officer and district inspector of schools in Bugiri. On joining Parliament, she was an outspoken critic of NRM’s failings.

A holder of a bachelor’s degree in Education from Makerere University, she is remembered for abstaining from the vote that lifted presidential term limits in 2005.

In the eighth Parliament, she returned to the NRM fold and was appointed parliamentary commissioner. Although many tapped her for a ministerial appointment, Lumumba’s rebellious past stood in her way.

However, in the run-up to the 2011 polls, she gained the trust and confidence of President Museveni and it came as no surprise when she was appointed state minister for Urban Planning.

In 2013 in a cabinet reshuffle, she was appointed to replace Daudi Migereko as chief whip. Of recent, she has had some trouble with the electorate in Bugiri and some analysts believe that her appointment as secretary general, a position that requires her to resign her parliamentary seat is a blessing in disguise.

Dr Kenneth Omona – deputy treasurer

He is the Kaberamaido MP and currently chairs the parliamentary committee on Health. Born on August 16, 1974, Omona’s support for the ruling party dates back to 1999 when he was a student at the Mbale School of Clinical Officers, pursuing a diploma in clinical medicine.

At this time he interacted with NRM’s top brass like Gen Elly Tumwine and the head of the NRM patriotic clubs, Col Henry Matsiko, who courted him.

He later emerged the best diploma medical student in the country and promptly secured a job at Marie Stopes Uganda in Kabale.

In 2004 when he joined the school of medicine at Makerere University, he fully immersed himself in the NRM, acting as a mobiliser at the university.

He organized a number of functions, many of which President Yoweri Museveni attended and it was no surprise that the president graced his graduation party in 2010.

Since joining Parliament in 2011, he has been a vocal supporter of government programmes.

In 2012, he was among a group of young MPs who started the pro-Museveni fifth term campaign. Others in the group were Peter Ogwang (Youth, Eastern), Frank Tumwebaze (Kibale), Richard Todwong (Nwoya) and Vincent Bagiire (Bunya West).

His appointment as deputy treasurer could be a reward for those efforts.

Richard Todwong – deputy secretary general

He is the Nwoya county MP and minister in charge of Political Mobilisation.

Born 42 years ago in Nwoya district, Todwong belongs to the generation of children who grew up during the Lord’s Resistance Army.

At a time when it was suicidal to associate yourself with NRM in Acholi, Todwong mobilised for Museveni in 1996.

He made friends with the late Noble Mayombo, Brig Henry Tumukunde and Bidandi Ssali, which contacts enabled him to join the NRM Movement Secretariat.

After graduating, he worked with URA as a revenue officer. In early 2000, he was appointed by the president as part of the Ssempebwa Commission that was to review the 1995 Constitution.

He was the youngest commissioner.  In 2006 up to 2010 he served as special presidential advisor for northern Uganda.

He joined the ninth Parliament after defeating the then incumbent, FDC’s Simon Oyet. In 2013 he was appointed to cabinet.

When a rift emerged between the NRM party chairman and his former secretary general, Amama Mbabazi, Todwong was appointed as acting deputy secretary general.

He had been widely tapped to become secretary general but he will have to deputise.

Rose Namayanja – treasurer

Namayanja, 39, is the minister for Information and National Guidance.

She joined politics in the mid 1990s during her university days and at the time she was an active member of the Uganda Young Democrats.

In 1998, she was wooed by the NRM and thereafter she joined State House as a political officer, a position she held for three years until she joined Parliament in 2001 as the youth MP for Central region.

In 2006, she defeated Victoria Mwaka to become Luweero Woman MP, and was later elected chairperson of the Buganda parliamentary caucus.

She endeared herself to Buganda loyalists with her fierce opposition to the 2008 Land Amendment Act and the Institution of Traditional Leader or Cultural leaders Act.

In 2011, when Luweero was split to create Nakaseke district, Namayanja got elected as its woman MP.

At the time she had shed her rebellious streak, paving the way for her appointment as minister in charge of Luweero Triangle.

In 2013, she became minister for information. She was part of the taskforce that promoted the Kyankwanzi resolution endorsing Museveni’s sole candidacy.

Earlier this year, she indicated that she will not seek re-election to Parliament in 2016, brightening her chances of being appointed to the NRM secretariat as party treasurer.

Dr Tanga Odoi – chairperson, NRM electoral commission

Now in his late 40s, he became prominent when he was chairperson of the Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA).

He can be fiery and abrasive and is someone who will push relentlessly until he achieves his aim.

Recently, he had started mobilizing to replace Fox Odoi as the West Budama North MP. His appointment as chairperson of the NRM electoral commission means that he will have to put his ambitions on hold.

skakaire@observer.ug

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