by Yoga Adhola.
A little background is necessary for our analysis of the Olara Otuunu bubble. The man who created the bubble is Chris Opoka, former Secretary General of UPC and now Olara’s presidential envoy.
At one time Chris Opoka and I were very close. I was also very close to Olara Otuunu. I was so close to both of them that they both, separately, at one point toyed with the idea of sponsoring me for the UPC presidency. On the other hand the two were not close to one another.
Chris Opoka recently ( Sun, 29 Aug 2010) revealed on UPCNET: “I am a senior member of the IPC steering committee who played a key role in the formation of IPC and I am the Local Coordinator of IPC who gets to sit also in the summit. What you say is totally untrue.”
From this vantage point Chris Opoka told me had come to the view that Olara Otuunu was popular across the board. By that he meant FDC, CP, Jemma and all the other political parties. Chris Opoka believed that once Olara Otuunu is on the ground, he would become the flag-bearer of IPC. This belief is a classic case of a bubble i.e. a speculative scheme that comes to nothing.
Having thus convinced himself, Chris Opoka began his manouvres to get Olara Otuunu persuaded that he could run for the UPC presidenecy. The points man for this task was Yoga Adhola. I did go along for a while hoping the project would not take off. However, when I realised Olara Otuunu was taking Chris Opoka seriously I tactfully removed myself from the project. Initially I would insist that in stead of me passing messages by phone, Chris Opoka should send an e-mail. At other times I would ask Olara Otuunu to call Chris Opoka in stead of me passing messages from Chris Opoka to Olara.
To cut a long story short, Olara Otuunu was brought back into Uganda. Chris Opoka moved full gear to have Olara Otuunu elected president of UPC so that he can meet the first qualification of competing for being the fag-bearer of IPC. In this mission he somehow found common ground with a group of right-wing UPCs at the helm of MOF. They are the group popularly known in UPC circles as the Gang of Four and they share one thing in common: they are rabidly against the Obote family. It is important to point out that they also don’t like Chris Opoka.
The Gang of Four wanted to defeat the Obote family as represented by Jimmy Akena and Chris Opoka was chasing his illusion of getting Olara Otuunu as the flag-bearer of IPC. The two interests dovetailed very well and the unholy alliance was sealed. With Chris Opoka controlling the machinery of the party and the Gang of Four that of MOF, the financier of the party, the unholy alliance was unbeatable.
Thereafter unholy alliance moved to manipulate the process leading to elections.
The UPC patriarch from Teso, Isiagi is reported to have said that when the alliance saw the kind of crowd Jimmy Akena was pulling as he moved from Lango through Teso, they got shaken. It is at this point that they decided to avoid going through the primaries and chose to use the delegates of 2005. Remember there was money given by the donors for undertaking the grass roots elections. There was also time for it.
The unholy alliance feared that if they went through the primaries, the delegates that they would face would be dominated by Jimmy Akena. The advantage the 2006 delegates would bring is that they were mainly constituted by Chris Opio who is a member of the Gang of Four.
The other thing which needs to be noted is that the FDC was also due to elect its president around the same time. Chris Opoka frantically worked to get UPC to elect its President before FDC did because it would give Olara Otunnu some weird advantage which I have not yet understood.
Again to cut a long story short, Olara Otuunu was eventually installed as president of UPC. The task that remained for Chris Opoka was to manouvre his man to become the flag-bearer of IPC. From there it would be a short and easy trip to becoming president of Uganda. What an illusion!!
In their illusion, they were totally oblivious of the ability of FDC to manouvre. It is only a few weeks ago that they woke up to realise they had been completely outmanouvred: Olara Otuunu was not making it as flag-bearer of IPC. That is when they decided to find “a formula of getting out of IPC”.
The formula they came out with is to create a crisis in IPC and then blame FDC. Given their ineptitude they so mismanaged this manouvre that it became clear to many that UPC was lacking in leadership. On the day of the nomination UPC’s stand was empty and no explanation was given. Chris Opoka and Patrick Mwoda went to the grounds but did not say anything.
What then are the excuses (not the reasons) that Olara Otuunu is putting out to rationalise his leaving IPC? In the New Vision of Saturday, 21st August, 2010, in an article written by Moses Mulondo, Bosa, the Secretary General of UPC is quoted criticising FDC for organising countrywide demonstration against electoral Commission and calling it an IPC affair.
“That is the same way FDC disguised its Buganda region campaign launch during which the two former Katikkiros, Joseph Mulwanyammuli and Dan Muliika declared support for the IPC. Since it was at an FDC function, the media reported it as if the two had joined FDC,” Bossa said.
It is ironical that having condemned FDC for organising such demonstrations, the UPC leadership comes around and claims that the IPC is soft on the electoral Commission issue. In the statement in which Olara Otunnu declares his withdrawal from the IPC he states: “I should like to stress again that what UPC insists on is and is campaigning for is genuinely free and fair elections organised by an independent Electoral Commission and based on a clean and verifiable register of voters”
What is the real difference between what Bosa condemns FDC for and what Olara Otuunu is calling for? As one commentator on Ugandans-at-Heart said Olara Otuunu’s explanations don’t add up; he must be hiding the real reasons for his departure from the IPC. Whatever the real reason, his bubble has burst.
Yoga Adholais is a former Editor-in-chief of The UPC paper The people and a leading ideologue of UPC.