Honorable Elijah Okupa is the Member of Parliament for Kasilo County, a position he has held since 2001 supposedly on the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) ticket. May be this could have been so between 2001 and 2011.
Thereafter, Okupa started showing signs that FDC was no longer tenable for him. He conspicuously shied away from the walk to work protests that had even retired General Mugisha Muntu now of Alliance for Transformation (ANT) participating.
Ugandan opposition politics has of recent been spiced by superlatives that are a joy to an imaginative mind. First it was Norbert Mao, Democratic Party’s President General who called Betty Nambooze, the Mukono Municipality Member of Parliament on the DP ticket, a water melon that is green on the outside but red inside in reference to her attachment to the People’s government announced by rtd Col. Kizza Besigye.
Riled by the utterances of her Party President, Mwalimu Nambooze retorted calling him a pumpkin which is green on the outside but yellow inside. Nambooze’s allegory was that Mao pretends to be DP yet he is being used by the National Resistance Movement. Mao has come out to vehemently deny such accusations. However, his latest declaration that he is going to contest in the presidential elections slated for 2012 has lent credence to the numerous allegations coming from DP members that Mao is being used by Museveni to disorganize the opposition.
Borrowing from the Democratic Party, FDC’s Elijah Okupa must be one of those Teso sweet potatoes that is faintly blue, pinkish but largely yellow. Whereas Okupa is still in parliament on FDC ticket, all indications were that he was following General Mugisha Muntu to the Alliance for Transformation party. Not only did he campaign for Muntu against Amuriat, he was among the notable FDC MPs that graced the initial announcement of The New Formation.
During the burial of his mother, (May her Soul rest in eternal peace) at Apapai Village in Kasilo County recently, Okupa’s political emigration seemed clearer. Even if Honorable Patrick Amuriat Oboi, the FDC Party President was humble enough to attend the burial in his official capacity, Okupa chose instead to relegate Amuriat to one of the commoner speakers. It was after Amuriat’s speech that the likes of Peter Ogwang, the NRM MP for Usuk County were invited to speak! As if that was not enough, it was Mike Mukula, the NRM Vice President Eastern Uganda who was the Chief Mourner. Indeed these NRM leaders took the advantage to ridicule Amuriat who obviously had no chance to rebut.
In all their speeches, the Ogwang’s asked the people of Kasilo to return Okupa to parliament on which ticket, they were noncommittal. Even the erratic Odonga Otto of Aruu County implored the people of Kasilo to return Okupa to Parliament although he Odonga declared that he was leaving the FDC Party. Some of us who attended the burial and tried hard to read between the lines failed to draw the political line Okupa is taking. One; NRM was largely represented and all supported his candidature although they are all aware that NRM has its own members interested in the constituency including Opolot and Akwan Owanyi. So is Okupa finally crossing over to the NRM, the way Betty Anywar did?
Secondly, the scent of ANT was seen hovering all around with its Alice Alaso prominently recognised around the burial area. One of the leading FDC leaders in Serere whom I spoke to, revealed that Okupa had indeed confided in them that he was crossing over to ANT. He however added that they sat him down and assured him that if he dared cross, they were going to abandon him. For that reason, he told me, Okupa toned down on his ANT activities.
It has also come out that many NRM Cadres and politicians from Serere District are disappointed with the manner in which President not only accepted to be Chief mourner (he was later represented by Mike Mukula) but generously contributed Shs10,000,000 towards the burial expenses. Among those utterly bitter are Akwan Owany already mentioned here, Opit Joseph, the current LCV who is on the ground campaigning to oust Okupa and the area MPs, Patrick Okabe and Hellen Adoa.
So, it now remains to be seen which colour Okupa will finally wear in 2021 although it is becoming more unlikely that it will be FDC’s blue colour. As it is, it seems Okupa is disappointed with Mugisha Muntu’s ability to start a strong party and is moving rather swiftly towards NRM.
Watch this space
By Markson Omagor
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