Ekanya fights to return to Parliament in Tororo
What you need to know:
- The former MP, Mr Geoffrey Ekanya, who is contesting on the Opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) ticket, is seeking to unseat the incumbent, Ms Annette Nyaketcho, who is running as an Independent.
- Ms Nyaketcho trounced Mr Ekanya in the 2016 polls with 8,911 votes. Mr Ekanya, who had represented the county for three conservative terms, polled 8,822 votes.
The political atmosphere in Tororo North County, Tororo District, is charged as two perennial rivals fight to claim the parliamentary seat.
The former MP, Mr Geoffrey Ekanya, who is contesting on the Opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) ticket, is seeking to unseat the incumbent, Ms Annette Nyaketcho, who is running as an Independent.
Ms Nyaketcho trounced Mr Ekanya in the 2016 polls with 8,911 votes. Mr Ekanya, who had represented the county for three conservative terms, polled 8,822 votes.
Also in the race are Mr Charles Jonjo Otabong, who is contesting on the National Unity Platform (NUP] ticket, and Mr Godfrey Othieno Otabong (NRM). Others are Independents Isaac Kalani, Johnson Obbo, and James Peter Ekuleut.
Tororo is one of the districts where the Electoral Commission (EC) banned campaigns on account of surging Covid-19 infections. As a result, some candidates have resorted to door-to-door campaigns while others are covertly holding secret meetings with the electorate.
Analysts say despite the race being crowded, competition is between the incumbent and Mr Ekanya.
“The incumbent needs to do more to retain the seat because even in 2016, she won with a difference of a few votes against Ekanya,” Mr John Emiriat, a political analyst, says.
It should be noted that Tororo County is an Opposition stronghold. For instance, the ruling NRM party has never had a chance of representing the county in Parliament since its creation.
Mr Emiriat says Ms Nyaketcho has the advantage of the power of incumbency and financial resources at her disposal to woo voters.
He adds that on the other hand, Mr Ekanya is relying on the assurance of a block vote from the Opposition supporters and sympathisers.
“Mr Ekanya is likely to get votes from NRM party supporters, who claim that the incumbent has almost done nothing,” he says.
Mr Ekanya’s supporters claim he never abandoned the county even after he lost in the 2016 polls. “Even when he lost, he continued supporting drilling and repairing for us boreholes in the entire constituency. He has also been helping disadvantaged children,” Mr Paul Olweny, one of the supporters, says.
However, supporters of Ms Nyaketcho say she may not have performed to everyone’s expectation but she remains the favourite candidate.
“Ms Nyaketcho is the favourite candidate for the position because she has done a lot in empowering women and a girl-child,” Mr Patrick Obwana, a supporter, says.
Mr Obwana claims Mr Ekanya was in Parliament for 15 years, and he did nothing apart from opposing the NRM government on the floor of Parliament.
Mr Ekanya during an interview with Daily Monitor last week accused the incumbent of being one of the legislators in Parliament who supported the removal of the presidential age limit from the Constitution.
He added that if elected, he will promote land rights, especially protecting people who cultivate in wetlands. “Considering the poverty index in the constituency, I am going to engage the government to revoke its directive to evict communities earning a living by growing rice in wetlands,” he said.
Mr Hannington Ekakoro, a voter and political observer, says it was a mistake to vote out Mr Ekanya in 2016.
“The voters made a mistake because he is among the best breed of leaders we need in this country,” he says.
Mr Ekakoro says among the factors that the electorate consider in voting a particular person candidate are tribe, ability to deliver and money.
“The voters in this county always vote for a candidate with ability to lobby and deliver and if one has money, that will be an added advantage,” he says.
Mr Ekuleut, another independent contestant, says there is clear indication that the population has lost trust in the incumbent. “A majority of the people in the constituency live below the poverty line, a situation I want to reverse if elected,” he said.
He says unlike in the past, voters are now critical due to increased access to information through radios, newspapers, television and social media platforms.
Another candidate, Mr Othieno, who is the NRM party flag bearer, pledges to prioritise sustainable land management and promotion of food security.
“I will support my people to acquire freehold land titles to guard them against unnecessary evictions,” he says.
Mr Kalani, another candidate, pledges to create income generating projects for the locals.
Mr Otabong, who is the NUP flag bearer, said his focus will be on youth empowerment innovations to fight unemployment. “We need to fight unemployment among the youth if we are to achieve sustainable economic development,” he says.
Ms Nyaketcho, who describes herself as a good debater and performer, says she ably represented her people.
“I think I have done to the expectations of my voters and those who are criticising me are blind,” she says.
She says some of her critics were leaders for quite many years but don’t have anything to show on the ground. “If they failed to offer services to the people when they were in leadership, how sure then are they that they will this time deliver,” she says.