On Tuesday, November 10, NUP presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu, aka Bobi Wine, took Arua by storm and almost brought the city to a standstill. This was his first visit to West Nile since the tragic events of August 2018 when he came over to campaign for Arua Municipality MP Kassiano Wadri.
Bobi Wine arrived at Arua late in the afternoon after two stopovers at Pakwach and Nebbi. He was received by a humongous, jubilant and spontaneous crowd from all walks of life. Rain, which many residents of Arua believe was a blessing from God, did not dampen the mood of the crowd which was electric, to put it mildly.
By the time Kyagulanyi arrived at the venue of the rally, time was ticking away to the deadline of 6pm, but he managed to deliver a clear, inspiring and powerful message to wananchi on the peaceful wind of change blowing throughout Uganda.
That positive message has spread across West Nile like wildfire in the dry season and has opened the eyes and ears of the youth of West Nile who will not be deceived and misled anymore by other candidates.
The warm reception which Bobi Wine got at Arua was a clear indication from wananchi that they want and deserve change now. I tell you, change in Uganda is inevitable and it’s good for the growth of democracy in our beloved country. Change should be welcomed by all patriots and people of goodwill.
Days after Bobi Wine’s peaceful and triumphant visit, the sole NRM presidential candidate arrived at Arua on November 12 for his campaigns. Unlike in 2016 and previous occasions, Sabalwanyi’s visit was low key.
He addressed local NRM leaders and cadres at Muni University campus and his speech was carried live by all local FM Radio stations. Sabalwanyi repeated an old story about sectarianism and identity politics and made some promises whose implementation is doubtful. I am afraid much of what he said was disinformation.
According to reliable sources, all participants at the event were tested in advance for Covid-19 and were required to present a clearance certificate before admission to the venue.
I am informed that two other presidential candidates have been to Arua for their campaigns, namely Pastor Joseph Kabuleta and Mr John Katumba.
With due respect, Katumba is a bad joke who reminds me of Nelson Ocheger, a presidential candidate 20 years ago.
Uganda certainly deserves better than every Tom, Dick and Harry. The sole female presidential candidate, Ms Nancy Linda Kalembe, is credible and promising. I wish her good luck.
The campaigns of the presidential candidates at Arua have so far been relatively peaceful unlike in Kitgum, Soroti, Mbale and elsewhere in Uganda. Elections are a peaceful exercise.
It is outrageous, indefensible and unnecessary for police and other security agents to intimidate and use excessive force to subdue peaceful, law-abiding and unarmed citizens of Uganda whose only crime is to openly celebrate, jubilate and express joy with their candidates.
The Electoral Commission must effectively play its role and ensure that all candidates are treated equally and fairly. EC must also ensure a level playing field for all candidates.
On a sad note, death has robbed Uganda of a distinguished son who passed on in New York, USA, on November 7. Eric Michael Kashambuzi (RIP) was a friend, patriot, intellectual and pan-Africanist whom I knew in the 1990s when he worked at UNDP headquarters, New York.
He was a renowned economist and a prolific author who wrote many scholarly books. Like me, he was a son of an Anglican priest, the Rev Can Samwiri Kashambuzi of Rukungiri. May his soul rest in eternal peace!
Mr Acemah is a political scientist and retired career diplomat.