Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and her deputy Jacob Oulanyah yesterday won their second endorsement from the NRM parliamentary caucus to keep in the same jobs in the 10th Parliament, days after the party’s second- highest organ, the Central Executive Committee (CEC), agreed to return the two.
This endorsement ends weeks of bickering and bitter fight between Kadaga and Oulanyah.
The two names picked out of a candidates’ pool of eight were read before the caucus meeting at State House, Entebbe by the NRM Electoral Commission (EC) chairman Tanga Odoi. He said the other contestants had willingly withdrawn from the race. Official elections for speaker and deputy speaker will be on May 19 after MPs take their oath of office.
The contestants bundled out of the race include; Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga), Hamson Obua (Ajuri), Monicah Amoding (Kumi Woman), David Bahati (Ndorwa West), Jova Kamateeka (Mitooma Woman), Rosette Mutambi Kajungu (Mbarara Woman) and Abbas Agaba (Kitagwenda).
In presenting only two names for endorsement, Odoi did exactly what many MPs had anticipated as they headed to Entebbe on Tuesday morning. In his speech, President Museveni who is also the NRM chairman, told the MPs that the endorsements were part of the ritual and that is how the ruling party works.
As if explaining why CEC avoided an election, Museveni said, “Fire is good when it is in the fireplace…You can use it to cook, to warm yourself [but] in another place; there will be trouble,” he said.
“Democratic discussions are good in the right forum; we never believe in one-man, one-woman decisions, that is what we in CEC do,” Museveni added.
When he learnt on Monday night that he had not got the nod to challenge for the speaker’s job, Oulanyah drove quietly to the NRM EC offices the next day to pick forms to express interest in his old job of deputy speaker.
To avoid detection, Oulanyah used a private car at about 11am and walked straight into Odoi’s office to fill the forms. This was about an hour before Odoi called a press conference to announce a new window for receiving new applications for the deputy speaker’s job.
“It is true we picked the forms from Odoi himself on May 3, and Oulanyah personally signed for them,” Godfrey Kiwanda Ssuubi, Oulanyah’s chief campaigner, told The Observer yesterday.
Kiwanda’s confirmation contrasted sharply with reports that Oulanyah had defied the CEC directive and insisted on running for speaker.
Before he went for the forms, Oulanyah had spent about two hours in his office at Parliament. Kiwanda also dismissed reports which suggested that Oulanyah had on Tuesday driven back to Entebbe for a private meeting with President Museveni to express his disapproval at the CEC decision.
“We spent the entire day in his boardroom at Parliament office holding private meetings with his campaigners, I only moved out for a short while for another meeting at Serena hotel and came back and found him in office following proceedings of [that afternoon] plenary [on TV] because it was [Kadaga] who chaired it,” Kiwanda said.
John Arimpa Kigyagi, the deputy NRM EC chairman, confirmed Oulanyah picked and returned the forms before the expiry of the 6pm deadline on Tuesday.
“Our records are clear that he picked and signed for the forms himself and we are ready to proceed with the process,” Kigyagi said.
Surprisingly, Odoi on Tuesday sat at his office besieged by an army of journalists waiting for Oulanyah to pick the forms. At the expiry of the six o’clock deadline, Odoi announced that he had received only one fresh application from the Mbarara Woman MP-elect Rosette Mutambi Kajungu, bringing the number of aspirants to seven.
Later that evening in an interview with NBS TV, Odoi said the Omoro MP had not showed up to pick the forms. An MP accused the NRM EC boss of playing games to dupe the public.
Odoi did not respond to our calls and Kigyagi didn’t say much when interviewed. As the NRM MPs gathered yesterday at State House, some had threatened to resist CEC’s endorsement of Oulanyah to return as deputy speaker but no one raised any objections.
Nonetheless, there are some MPs, who say they will campaign for independent MPs running for the same office.
“We are not keeping our eyes off Jacob Oboth-Oboth [West Budama South], Muhammad Nsereko [Kampala Central], Wilfred Niwagaba [Ndorwa East] and FDC’s Prof Morris Ogenga Latigo. At least we shall support one of those,” an NRM MP said.
“Oulanyah must pay for the wrongs he committed in [the ninth Parliament], we must punish him,” the MP added.
Meanwhile, Ssekikubo said he will not let go without a fight but during the caucus meeting, Odoi specifically singled him out as having agreed to CEC’s endorsement of Oulanyah.
NRM enjoys an absolute majority in Parliament and it is unlikely that another candidate will beat Oulanyah to the job.