What you need to know:
Interview. Following his recent meeting with President Museveni, popular singer and People Power coordinator for northern Uganda, William Otim, aka Lucky Bosmic, has excited debate. Both his fans and detractors are divided on whether Bosmic has made a strategic mistake by abandoning Bobi Wine and embracing Museveni. Below is an interview Jimmy Kwo conducted with Bosmic in Kitgum Town last week.
We understand you met President Museveni, when did you meet him and what was the purpose of your meeting?
I met President Museveni on December 30, 2019. There were three burning issues which prompted our meeting. First, I got an invite from the President to meet him so he hears directly from me about the non-payment for my song, Mzee wa kazi Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, which I composed [during the 2006 campaign]. All other singers were paid except me. So when I got the call I went to follow up on my sweat.
Second was that some wrong elements had started framing me, writing doctored reports against me to have government arrest and imprison me. Their plan is that when the next election arrives, it should get Bosmic in jail because they fear when elections get me out and free, contesting against me would not be easy. Their desire is to technically knock me out of the nomination.
There are some top army leaders we have fought with on the streets, who claim I am against government and as such they should deal with me, but I won’t disclose their names, but Gulu residents can bear me witness. There were also some politicians colluding with some top army commanders and some RDCs to fulfill their political plans. Because they fear me, they want to use the army and RDCs to subdue me.
The other reason why I met President Museveni was that we, the children of former soldiers, who died during the 1986 takeover of government by Museveni, are being intimidated by some people. Each time any wave of arrests starts in Kitgum District – on allegations of rebel activities – there are some wrong political elements here in Kitgum who mobilise soldiers and launch an operation at the home of the late Chief Justo Obita of Koc Labongo Amida, the former District Police Commander of Kitgum. Arrests would be carried out at his homestead, alleging that his children were rebels or are robbing people with guns or that they are recruiting rebels.
Going to President Museveni was to find a way of becoming a free citizen again, because I wasn’t free anymore. I needed to be free from all these blockages they put against me; blocking my shows. Unless I sing my family will not eat; will not have education.
So I decided to become free again since People Power is not catering for my family’s welfare – medication, education and security. Living a life without proper security for your family is the worst life ever on earth. This is what I have to say to warn our youth: before somebody engages you into anything, first seek your own security and that of your family.
You said one of the reasons for meeting President Museveni was to be paid for your 2006 campaign song, have you now been paid?
I am only waiting to receive [it]. This time it was the President who talked about my money. It is not a rumour [anymore]; it is a promise from the President that my money will now be paid very soon. Which I am very happy about.
How much are you expecting from President Museveni?
My money that should be paid is Shs300m.
There was uproar on social media platforms when you attended NRM party national conference at Namboole Stadium and also performed. Have you now crossed over to the ruling NRM party?
My going to Namboole was premised on two reasons: one; as a businessman, a singer, I got a deal. Two; discussing my security in this situation I am in; that is what took me to Namboole. I want to tell you frankly that politicians who fear me because of upcoming 2021 elections are framing me that I don’t support the government; that I am recruiting rebels. That I should be arrested and imprisoned. So I am now using my brain. I went to Namboole as a businessman. Two, I went to meet President Museveni on the issue of my security. Because these same people incited People Power against me, that they should dismiss me from People Power. So my life is at a risk. The only solution is to go to the Government that I pay tax for. It should be the one responsible to protect my life. Bosmic Otim is entitled to all the rights he deserves.
When you told President Museveni you are going to contest in Kitgum Municipality, what was his response?
I told the President I would contest for Kitgum Municipality parliamentary seat in the 2021, and I will defeat anyone who dares me and dares to disturb the people of Acholi. He asked me ‘how sure are you?’ I assured him I was 100 per cent sure because I have the support of the people. Then he just laughed while saying: ‘when the time is ripe, we shall see’. I told President Museveni that mine was not a joke; when the time comes he could come and confirm for himself. And If there are people out there who think that I am simply joking, then it is up to them.
People are also asking, under which political party will you vie for the Kitgum Municipality parliamentary seat?
I want to confirm this now. If my elders tell me to stand under UPC or DP or NRM party flag, I will abide, but not under People Power.
First, I had a lot of belief in People Power, but I discovered that People Power is just for People at the centre. They don’t mind about us and our children. They just want to use us as slaves to uplift themselves so that when they succeed tomorrow they will not care about us because they would have achieved their goals.
The problem I saw with People Power is that when its officials are arrested nobody cares for us. No one cared for the injuries we sustained in the struggle; you heal like a dog, yet for them when they get injured, they are promptly assisted. People at the centre of People Power who were also injured apart from Bobi Wine were taken to South Africa and Nairobi [Kenya] for treatment. But I went to Nairobi on my own to get treatment.
I am suffering. I have unsettled bills from hospitals and elsewhere, I have debts for music shows I failed to perform because they couldn’t allow me to hold the shows – you try to perform but soldiers come and block you. You go to record songs in the studio but you are blocked by security forces. You can’t sing; we have not honoured some contracts and yet we cannot even refund the money paid as deposits, because when we return the money there won’t be any left for us to feed our families since government has blocked all our avenues for survival. It has not been easy. So People Power put me in a hard place. So the party affiliation I will identify with will be any political group my Acholi elders will have advised me to carry its flag, but not People Power.
Are you still the People Power youth wing coordinator for northern Uganda?
Officially I have said I am not with People Power right now. Because they did not demonstrate to me enough support. When I got into problems they did not support me. People Power never did anything in my life. When I was arrested, People Power never visited me in prison, when I was admitted to hospital with injuries sustained in the struggle they never came to support me. When we went to Kampala, People Power never even visited me, instead they were calling me to go to the home of Bobi Wine with my head injury. People Power does not have humanity.
Anybody who cannot support you in your most difficult hour, when you are in prison; sick in hospital or arraigned in court, that is not your person.
What do you say to people who say Bosmic has made a strategic mistake by abandoning Bobi Wine and embracing President Museveni?
I want Acholi to know there will never be any Acholi child who will do for Acholi more than what Bosmic has done. I have been worrying; crying; and quarreling for Acholi. But I am so disappointed with some people who hail from northern Uganda. I landed in problems after government saw I was the one promoting People Power in northern Uganda yet People Power was not supporting me in any way in the struggle.
The people of Acholi know that I am the one who wrote songs that challenged the government; opposed bad policies from government; and reprimanded groups that brought problems to Acholi and also reprimanded Acholi leaders both in government and Opposition – those who use their offices to abuse Acholi yet it is these people who elected them. It was also left to me to reprimand traditional leaders who were not performing according to the interest of their subjects.
Now, on Bobi Wine, People Power would rather have us move around shouting ‘eh, People Power, eh People Power’ but when we land into problems, they are not part of it. They don’t come and they don’t even want to know about it. I have since learnt that People Power only likes us when we can go on streets and markets to protest. If we can cause mayhem there, then we would still be known as People Power members when our heads are hit and blood is oozing. But when we want support to treat the injuries incurred; when we ask Kampala office which hospital do we take Bosmic and others to, then the hospital is not there.
But when Bobi Wine gets serious injuries he is flown abroad. Yet Bosmic was hit on the head with the butt of a gun, but People Power never even bothered to treat him. The [treatment] does not seem to be uniform! In People Power, all the good things seem to happen only to Mr Bobi Wine and a few others while the rest of us are left to suffer. Which means when it comes to protesting on the streets to sustain injuries we are still regarded as People Power but when it comes to treatment, paying for capacity building for the People Power officials; then we are no longer People Power members.
Any personal disagreement between Bobi Wine and Lucky Bosmic Otim?
What pained me most was that Bobi Wine and I were banned from holding music shows in the whole of Uganda. When I try to perform music shows in Lamwo or Kitgum, the RDCs and soldiers would bar me. I further tried to hold music shows in Elegu and Kampala but all were blocked, but my brother Bobi Wine easily flies to America, South Africa, London, Australia and other places but he does not include me on his trips.
He flies to these places with some artistes and People Power officials from the centre and returns with US dollars, Pound Sterling and Euros. And yet , I Bosmic, cannot even afford to feed my family because all my avenues of incomes have been blocked. Now, how should I survive?
And we are calling this a struggle; to me this is a sugar-coated struggle that favours only a few people but not all citizens of this nation. To me this is a sugar-coated revolution that favours a tribe instead of the whole nation. I always ask myself; how come when it comes to anything that involves money; nobody, no official of People Power from northern Uganda is involved? But when it is demonstration on streets to have a serious encounter with the police, when we are shedding blood, getting serious injuries and deep wounds on us, we are People Power. But when it comes to money issue we are not People Power. This is my major concern.
There are fears that since you just sat for your Senior Six examinations last year, the same powerful people fighting your political ambitions could easily tamper with your results so you don’t pick nomination forms. Do you share that sentiment?
That issue is there. It exists. That is the most difficult issue at the moment. I got reports that such funny elements have been asking for my index number. They went up to the school where I sat my examinations from; they want my index number. They even asked the candidates we sat together with whether if any of them knows my index number. They asked that ‘what name was Otim Bosmic using to sit exams?’
But I want to warn them that if they mess up this I have other ways. A soldier is a soldier and does not only use one avenue to fight.