The Gogonyo County by-election script turned out differently after the man the country’s leading political party, the National Unity Platform (NUP) trusted to carry their flag abandoned the campaigns only for him to return when singing praises for National Resistance Movement (NRM) and calling himself a son of President Yoweri Museveni, the NRM chairperson.
Jackson Okoboi Opoloti spotting a signature red cap was nominated by the Pallisa district Returning Officer as a candidate of NUP. And because of a new working relationship in the opposition, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) withdrew their candidate in order to support Opoloti. With combined opposition backing, it was expected that Opoloti would give the NRM a hard time. Alas!
During the weekend, a letter on a supposed letterhead of the cultural leader of the Iteso people was asking Opoloti to quit the race for the sake of peace and harmony in the region. This didn’t only leave the public confused but also the NUP leadership. Joel Ssenyonyi, the NUP spokesperson told journalists that efforts to reach their candidate were futile as his known phone numbers were off.
Just when the public was wondering if the letter from the Iteso cultural leader was authentic, another, supposedly from Opoloti surfaced on social media. In the letter, Opoloti was confirming that he had listened to the pleas of the cultural and clan leaders and he was indeed quitting the race. On Monday, the Electoral Commission said they hadn’t received Opoloti’s resignation from the race.
But also on Monday, pictures and stories of Opoloti meeting President Yoweri Museveni surfaced and it was now a fact that Opoloti had crossed to NRM. At that time, Opoloti hadn’t publically given reasons for his quitting. But speaking at a campaign rally in Gogonyo that was also attended by the President, Opoloti mentioned why he had crossed to NUP despite being an NRM cadre.
“I have always been your son and NRM conc except that some people messed up my win in the NRM primaries of 2020 and I protested by sheltering in NUP but it was a matter of time before I bounced back to NRM because that’s where my heart always was,” Opoloti told the president and the crowd at the rally.
Opoloti blamed internal squabbles in NRM for his seeking shelter in NUP. “But after consulting and listening to my cultural leaders, I decided to come back home and I want to thank you for welcoming be back to this might party,” Opoloti stated proudly.
In his speech, the president encouraged the people of Gogonyo to interest themselves in growing coffee because it has high returns on investment. “Politics is not about giving people jobs; politics is about solving our problems. So, when I come here and say, please vote for NRM, I am actually telling you to vote for yourselves” the president said.
The President was in Gogonyo, Pallisa district on Tuesday to campaign for Derrick Orone, the NRM candidate in the Gogonyo County by-election, ahead of the voting on Thursday.