Nebbi- Elections present voters with important choices. Whether it is a local race that will affect your community or a national race that could change the direction of the country, it is a time to consider the issues which you care about and decide which candidate you support.
Candidates can be judged in two ways: the positions they take on issues or the leadership qualities and experience that they would bring to office.
Both are important. This is the choice voters in Padyere are hoping to make in 2016 when they weigh incumbent, Mr Joshua Anywarach (Independent), against his opponents.
It appears, therefore, proper that elected representatives should be helping people.
Past experience has, however, shown that the longer an MP spends in office, the more they come to believe that this part of their job is their most important responsibility. They, thus, devote more and more energy to this function.
Mr Anywarach is aiming to stop any political overhaul with new forces coming into the battlefield.
The questions of electricity, marketing of farmers produce, bad roads, dilapidated schools and health centres, scholarships, poverty and unemployment are things he can expect to engage opponents on, with each trying to impress upon the electorate that they have the answer.
The newcomers will likely include Mr Ben Bidong, Mr Patrick Kumakech Amelo and possibly Mr Robery Onega (FDC).
The incumbent won the popular vote in 2011, beating fellow independent, Paschal Odoch, largely because Opposition supporters rallied behind him.
To strengthen his grip on the seat, he started Padyere Development Initiative.
This area, located in the highland area of West Nile sub-region, produces some of the best Arabica coffee in the country.
Farmers are, therefore, an important voting block which makes critical that any local development initiative takes care of the interests.
He said coffee farmers in Nebbi and Zombo districts have lost interest in coffee growing due to over exploitation by middlemen who tended to dictate prices.
“Since the collapse of cooperative unions, there had been instability in coffee price and coffee production,” Mr Anywarach told Saturday Monitor.
He hopes his initiative can change that. The long term solution, he notes, though, is for the government to fulfill its promise to extend electricity to this rural community under the Rural Electrification Scheme.
“Farmers could start processing the coffee locally,” he said.
Important as they are as a voting block, the farmers vote is not enough to see one into Parliament. People in Padyere say they will stick with perceived candidate competence over and above political affiliation.
Forty five-year-old voter, Ms Grace Apio (FDC) said: “Our people must not be inclined to getting money from candidates and then going on to sacrifice the best potential candidate. We should look at a candidate who can lobby for funds for our roads which are in shambles, to have our dilapidated schools get a facelift and books as well as clean and safe water.”
In the past, including in 2011, candidates typically split the vote according to the sub-counties from where each of them hailed.
For instance, Mr Anywarach enjoyed a block vote in Erussi, his home area.
He also enjoyed good backing in Parombo. Local disaffection with the ruling NRM party also played a key role in deciding the result in Erussi, while Parombo had been dominated by the Opposition since 2006.
As almost anywhere else, parliamentary contests here have been closely fought as battles.
In 2006, Mr Patrick Okumu Ringa, the former State minister for Public Service, polled 16,765 (34.8 per cent of the valid votes cast) against the Uganda Peoples Congress’ candidate, Mr David Ringechan (RIP), who won with 17,422 (36.2 per cent).