Discussion on who of National Unity Platform (NUP)’s 61 legislators will take up the role of Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Parliament, is ongoing.
NUP might be new in the political space but it will be taking over from the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) which has dominated opposition politics for the last 15 years. FDC sent only 35 seats in the 11th parliament, taking the backseat for the freshmen to take control of the debate in parliament.
NUP are not entirely freshers, they have some veteran legislators in their ranks, some of which have been tipped to take over as Leader of Opposition, a powerful position in ensuring checks and balance in Parliament, which is dominated by National Resistance Movement (NRM).
Among frontrunners tipped for LoP are Medard Seggona, an experienced lawyer who represents Busiro East in Wakiso district. Sseggona has proven invisible in defence of Robert Kyagulanyi’s legal battles. The others are Nyendo-Mukungwe MP Mathias Mpuuga from Masaka City, and John Baptist Nambeshe, a social worker by profession from Manjiya County in Bududa district and Betty Nambooze Bakireke, an outspoken Mukono Municipality MP. The former journalist is actually the most experienced Parliamentarian in the NUP camp having spent in Parliament 12 years. Robert Kyagulanyi and his inner circle making critical decision need to look at Nambooze as the cornerstone in the House.
Nambooze is the only woman amongst men who is seen as a natural replacement for Betty Aol Achan who was appointed by Patrick Oboi Amuriat on his ascendance to the FDC presidency.
Unlike her predecessor Winnie Kiiza, Ms Achan has not stood out of the crowd, and she will be bowing out with little to write home about her. Amuriat was warned ahead of this appointment to work with Mrs Kiiza despite ideological disagreements. However, he didn’t listen.
Robert Kyagulanyi is facing a critical decision in appointing a leader who will keep his young party and opposition leadership alive in Parliament. Kyagulanyi risks giving this slot to a legislator on basis of their loyalty and not skills or experience. Social media talks of Joel Ssenyonyi and even Muhammad Ssegirinya being LoP because they are loyal to the NUP Principal.
If Kyagulanyi ignores experience and charisma as he makes his appointments, he would need to pick his 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene to read.
Experience and skill if they complement youthful exuberance and enthusiasm can do for NUP miracles.
For his youthful forces to remain in command, he needs tested and fearless commanders in key areas. Robert Greene would say, “The key to power, then, is the ability to judge who is best able to further your interests in all situations. Keep friends for friendship, but work with the skilled and competent.”
With all other candidates’ good credentials Nambooze stands out. This woman from Mukono joined NUP at the last turn before the election fever kicked in, but has delivered for NUP something which should have excluded them in greater Mukono without her influence and touch.
Nambooze was able to organize her team in Mukono district and beyond, to win all seats in Mukono save for one which went to DP. Nambooze’s organization, communication and marketing skills give her an advantage over her peers in a way that the next five years in Parliament need to keep government on its tenterhooks with actionable moves, and not just long academic papers.
Since she joined parliament, Nambooze has been active on the entire opposition front, and among other candidates, she can reach out to other opposition party members such as FDC, DP, Jeema, UPC and independents in parliament since she has worked across the divide. For NUP to succeed, it needs the experience of the Ssemujju Nganda, Nandala Mafabi, as well as Richard Ssebamala, Dr Lulume Bayiga of Democratic Party among others.
The other aspect is gender. NUP needs to show that it believes in women. Apart from Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi, there are few women on the NUP front row. Yet, the women factor in Uganda is only going forward. Without sounding sexist, it is important to underscore that women have seemed to perform well in their respective assignments.
In the end, Nambooze will give Kyagulanyi something Congress Speaker Nancy Pelosi gives the Democratic Party in USA. Energy, bold moves, and steady leadership since from the start of her career in politics, Nambooze has attached her name and reputation to a fearless, courageous and inspirational political image which has set her apart from other people.
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