By Markson Omagor
On Wednesday 14th of August 2019, a group of over 80 supporters of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party in Tororo District defected to the opposition People Power pressure group.
People Power pressure group is associated with Kyaddondo East Member of Parliament, Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine.
The group which was led by the Speaker of Eastern Division Council in Tororo Municipality, Deogratius Emojong, defected to People Power Movement during a meeting at Tororo Municipal Gardens on Wednesday.
The defecting youth leaders who handed over NRM party membership cards to the district party registrar, Mr Joseph Kadokech, said their former political party is no longer sensitive to the aspirations of ordinary Ugandans.
Emojong who has been a strong NRM cadre and a prominent mobiliser of President Yoweri Museveni, said that his group defected from NRM because its leaders are increasingly developing dictatorial tendencies and internal democracy had declined.
Although, the defectors did not categorically name Dr. Tanga Odoi as one of the Party leaders fueling nepotism, tribalism and internal Party strife in the district, a number of NRM Party Big shots in the district that I spoke to pointed accusing fingers at Dr. Tanga who is also the Party National Electoral Commission Chairman.
Dr . Tanga has variously been accused of rigging Party primaries to benefit his cronies. As a result, those who were eventually elected as Party Flag bearers in 2015 did not have a popular mandate leading to increasing hate against the ruling party and therefore the seating government.
Odoi is said to use an iron hand in deciding who carries the Party flag right from LC1. Some of these NRM leaders who are on record as accusing Tanga of fighting them is Sanjay Tanna, former Member of Parliament Tororo Municipality, Sarah Opendi State Minister of Health In Charge General Duties and also Woman Member of Parliament Tororo District.
Whereas the tribal rift between the Japhadhola and Iteso in Tororo District had been simmering for long, Tanga is now being accused of using his position to ensure that Iteso are rigged out of elective positions.
Tanga is also accused of taking a hardline stance against the quest by Iteso to have their own District with the Municipality being their headquarters. Consequently the Iteso boycotted elections of Party structure members where at the end of the day, the Japhadhola took all the party structure positions.
Now NRM is looking increasing frail in the district.
This has been worsened by the fact that the District Local Council V has been paralysed after District Councillors from West Budama who were the majority in the executive resigned. This has affected service delivery. Tanga may not be a district councilor, but there are accusing fingers pointed at him for allegedly encouraging the councilors from West Budama to resign.
The same clique of councilors from West Budama is being accused of sabotaging the operationalization of the District Service Commission.
Now many youths who were hoping to get employment at the district are frustrated. The name Tanga again comes in because he helps shield his cronies from the law even when they have done wrong.
Dr. Tanga Odoi’s take on the allegations
Speaking to this writer on phone on Saturday 17th August 2021, Tanga first rubbished the over 80 NRM youths who crossed to the People Power Movement saying they are a group of disgruntled youth.
“I can assure you those youths were just moles. When His Excellency was recently in Tororo, they had wanted to meet him but due to the tight schedule he could not meet them. It was then that they threatened to quit the Party,” Tanga said laughing off their move.
He also downplayed the impact of the crossing saying NRM is even stronger in Tororo District now than in 2016 arguing that the votes are in the villages and they are waiting for NRM candidates.
“I want to assure the National Resistance Movement and my people of Tororo, that come 2021, NRM is going to sweep all elective positions in the district,” he added.
On the accusations that he helped rig out many candidates during the NRM Party primaries in 2015, Tanga said losers should not look for scape goats.
“If am being accused of rigging out some people, then it should have been in Western Uganda where I was deployed. Tororo district was handled by my deputy,” he said adding that he only came in to support those that had been elected as Party Flag bearers by forcing Independents to step down in favour of the flag bearers.
The allegations of Tanga rigging NRM primaries are not only in Tororo.
In Bukono County, Namutumba district, the then Member of Parliament aspirant and now Minister of State for Lands, Persis Namuganza accused Tanga of rigging her out in favour of Michael Saile in 2015 primaries.
The angry Namuganza then called Tanga a mad man and that the NRM electoral Commission was on a clandestine mission of failing President Museveni in the 2016 general elections.
Namuganza then faulted Tanga for the chaos in NRM primaries together with Police she accused of arresting her polling agents and siding with one of her opponent, Michael Saile.
“The downfall of Tana and Osuna is because people chose not to vote for them but not Tanga Odoi,” he said.
On the divisions in the Local Council Five, Tanga said he literally forced councilors from West Budama to report back to council for the benefit of the ordinary person.
He however blamed the acting LCV Chairperson, Stella Imakutet for fuelling the standoff revealing that even after he had convinced West Budama councilors to resume council business, Imakutet instead chose to convince another section of councilors not participate in council business.
He also commented on the creation of another district for the Iteso living in Tororo saying he was more concerned with poverty eradication than division of districts along tribal lines.
“Tororo district has 73 tribes, now if we are to create districts along tribal lines, how many districts will be curved out of Tororo?” He asked.
Many NRM Big shots insist Tanga is burning down the Party in the district with his arrogance and highhandedness, Tanga denies ever being the problem in Tororo. In fact he says the Party has no problem and is even bigger and better.
It remains to be seen whether Dr. Tanga is indeed the cancer eating up NRM in Tororo or disgruntled NRM loyalists are barking up the wrong tree.
Founded in 2017, EAST NEWS is published by a group of media practitioners with its head offices in Mbale Uganda and other offices around Uganda. It is among Uganda’s most authoritative online news media publications available on all platforms and has since become a public trust dedicated to the pursuit of truth and reason covering a range of issues from breaking news to politics, business, the markets, the arts, sports and community to the crossroads of people and society.