Credit Daily Monitor
On the eve of NRM’s national conference, President Museveni delivered a deadly blow to Bobi Wine in northern Uganda.
In a surprise move, Mr Museveni snatched People Power vocal coordinator and kingpin in Acholi sub-region, Lucky Bosmic Otim.
Bosmic’s fans were shocked, with some saying his pictures with President Museveni, published on social media, were photoshopped.
To them, Bosmic was an acerbic and incorruptible critic of President Museveni, his ministers and NRM party.
Bosmic had not spared President Museveni for his overstay in power and similarly attacked his team of political praise singers, especially in Acholi.
To most, Bosmic could not become disloyal, betray, and desert his People Power friends and political cause for which he was an unbowed co-ordinator.
But soon, more new pictures were released with Bosmic attending the NRM conference at Nelson Mandela Stadium Namboole, on the outskirts ok Kampala City. Bosmic was also pictured in the company of pop artiste and NRM party diehard Bebe Cool.
A singer in Lira then quickly accused Bosmic of snubbing a planned joint concert, and choosing instead to meet President Museveni at State House Entebbe. But what remained unanswered was, had Bosmic truly joined NRM and ditched Bobi Wine and People Power?
Opinion was divided between his admirers and detractors.
But Bosmic settled the puzzle only two days after Namboole with a categorical response in a video clip on his Facebook wall.
Indeed, the Nile Republic singer had abandoned Bobi Wine and his People Power and crossed over to NRM.
Bosmic listed four reasons.
Bosmic says his sacrifices for People Power, including crusading their cause in the north and printing posters have all gone unrewarded.
Like Bobi Wine, Bosmic has had several of his music shows blocked by security agencies. He has also been tortured and was blocked at Entebbe airport as he prepared to jet out for music shows in Canada, Australia, and USA. But Bosmic says Bobi Wine has not seen it fit to tag him along on his foreign trips.
However, Bosmic’s real reason for exit seem rooted in risks to his security, fear of torture and pressing family needs.
Bosmic says for nearly seven months, he has been a man on the run, with Bobi Wine helping to tip him off about impending arrests.
Even then, Bosmic says he has been abducted twice by security operatives and forced to confess to rebel recruitment he knew nothing about.
He says his pleas to People Power leaders for guidance and way out of the fix did not yield any help.
Bosmic blames his woes on some top three Acholi politicians, who he did not name.
He says his willingness to meet President Museveni was forced by the need to clear his name on the rebel talk and secure his safety.
Bosmic also accused People Power top leadership of being Buganda-centric and offering preferential treatment to those at the centre.
What next for Bosmic
Bosmic says he will now challenge his NRM critics in Acholi from within. He says he told President Museveni he would take on Kitgum Municipality MP and minister for Environment Beatrice Anywar in the 2021 parliamentary race. President Museveni reportedly gave a hearty long laugh as a response.
But Bosmic’s pain and defection continues a growing saga of music stars abandoning Bobi Wine and People Power.
Could it then be said that Bobi Wine and team are under sustained attack from President Museveni from which they cannot escape?
Only time will tell, but what is clear is that all celebrated musicians who have met President Museveni have changed tunes.
Virtually all have redirected their guns to target Bobi Wine and his People Power group, despite their formerly close ties.
So just how do these People Power music stars end up at the feet of President Museveni?
Perhaps this question can only be ably answered by tracing the rise and rise of Bobi Wine and the People Power frenzy.
Rise of Bobi Wine
Music pop star Bobi Wine burst onto the political scene with a surprise announcement in March 2017 to run for a parliamentary seat in Kyadondo East, a constituency on the outskirts of Kampala city. Bobi Wine’s surprise by-election win in June came with crushing defeat of candidates backed by ruling NRM party and FDC, the largest Opposition party in the country.
Bobi Wine’s campaign rhetoric was: “If the leaders have refused to bring Parliament to the ghetto, we shall carry the ghetto to Parliament.”
Quickly, his meteoric rise from the shadows of the ghetto to the plush parliamentary buildings, charmed many, especially the unwashed youths from the ghetto. Bobi, their hero, then announced he had brought the ghetto to Parliament.
The rest of Ugandans were soon forced to take note when the Bobi Wine-effect swayed voters to back Opposition candidates to win similar parliamentary by-elections, first in Rukungiri, then in Jinja, and Bugiri. By the time another by-election came up in Arua, Bobi Wine had to be stopped and he was reportedly tortured to semi-consciousness.
Bobi, alongside tens of other Opposition politicians, were later charged with treason, with the case still in court.
Bobi Wine later sought treatment abroad as his popularity soared, both at home and abroad. Bobi had become the ray of hope with his brand of youthful swag to challenge the out-of-time and aging NRM party politics and leaders.
By the time he returned from abroad, Bobi Wine’s popularity had sky-rocketed and was hard to pull him down.
Soon, Bobi Wine was composing emotionally stirring political songs, among them Situka tutambule, Uganda zukuka, and Tuliyambala engule, and Afande.
Threatened by Bobi Wine’s wave of popularity, security agencies moved to block his shows to stop his huge “negative” influence among his rabid music fans and political converts. Quickly, the Bobi Wine allure became irresistible as more artistes took up his call and joined his political crusade against President Museveni’s government and overstay in power. At 34 years, the NRM regime is older than the majority of Bobi Wine’s fanatic youthful followers.
Among top musicians to jump onto the Bobi Wine’s wagon were gospel artiste Pastor Wilson Bugembe; northern artiste William Otim, aka Lucky Bosmic of the Nile Republic; and Ronald Mayinja. Others were Edirisa Musuza, alias Eddy Kenzo; Mark Bugembe, aka Buchaman; Michael Mugwanya, alias King Michael; Jenifer Nakanguubi, aka Full Figure; Ibrahim Mayanja alias Big Eye; and Hassan Ndugga.
Museveni handshake strategy
Worried, the President’s handlers had to quickly devise a counter strategy. By October last year when his Independence Day concert was blocked, Bobi Wine said the police had violently disrupted 156 of his music shows in one and half years.
Bobi Wine’s last two performances were the Kyalenga Concert in November 2018 and a cameo appearance during the Nkuuka, music gala organised in the same year by Buganda Kingdom to usher in 2019.
The police had earlier in the year blocked his Boxing Day concert slated at his personal property, One Love Beach, in Busabala on the shores of Lake Victoria. Again in 2019, police blocked Bobi Wine’s Easter concerts, which had been planned for Busabala, and upcountry in Lira, Arua, Gulu, Masaka and Busia municipalities.
Then came a more tactical manoeuvre of musicians’ handshake with the president to break the growing constellation of music stars and influencers around Bobi Wine, who had declared his intentions to run for president in 2021.
President Museveni then reached out to the musicians, beginning with appointing emissaries Catherine Kusasira and Moses Ssali, aka Bebe Cool. President Museveni had previously worked with and assigned them to represent him in the ghetto.
Mr Museveni then in a public statement signed posters and announced himself as “man of the ghetto.” Thus began the President’s intrusive penetration into the ghetto. The Opposition clutched on this to accuse the President of deliberately impoverishing the youth and exploiting them to his own political advantage.
Most of the artistes Sunday Monitor asked how and why they meet President Museveni and quickly shift allegiance, cited fear, risks to their lives, poverty and need for survival of their families.
The artistes also say they had either been ushered to the President by events promoter Balaam Barugahare or Ms Catherine Kusasira, who are charged with fixing the appointments or are tapped by the president himself.
“Most of these artists come to me and tell me they want to see the President, so I only take them there. Whoever sees him gets saved, even if I took you today, you would also get saved,” Mr Balaam said in an interview with Sunday Monitor.