During a debate on NBS TV’s frontline, Aruu County Member of Parliament Odonga Otto put National Unity Platform (NUP) spokesperson Joel Ssenyonyi to mention the party flagbearers in Northern Uganda.
“Do you have gum on your lips? There is none, not even a single one,” Otto claimed after moments of silence from Ssenyonyi.
The seasoned politician then cautioned NUP to concentrate on marketing their party outside the urban areas of Kampala and Central Buganda Region, citing that no victory will be achieved when their limitation is between Kampala and Wakiso.
Many political commentators have weighed in on this, maintaining that NUP only resonates with a number of youth within Buganda and slightly on the outskirts.
Notwithstanding, during the hearing of Bobi’s Wine’s treason case in Gulu, the musician cum politician scored massive points in the region.
Indeed, many youths waited on him on the streets, chanting People Power, and fisting up in the air, but that should have died with the decision to shift from a pressure group to a fully-fledged Political Party.
The big question, therefore, is: “Does NUP have the capacity to turn tables in Northern Uganda on their road to State House?”
NUP’s Vice President for Northern Uganda, Lina Zedriga claims the party is very determined to redeem the country against all odds, and to her, the political party perspective in Northern Uganda is not of concern.
“We are not in opposition, I want that to be very clear, we are in a struggle to reclaim humanity, a struggle to deliver Uganda and Ugandans,” Zedriga says.
According to Arthur Owor, a University Researcher in Northern Uganda NUP’s message is not any different from that of Opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC). This means that NUP is rather playing in the area of FDC rather than that of NRM.
“Elections in Acholi are won on the basis of; Who is your God Father? Do u have party structures and organization capacity? And what message are you articulating? NUP’s message is not any different from FDC,” Owor said.
The voting pattern of Ugandans is on the basis of the Party Identification Model, Rational model, and Sociological model.
As for party identification, Steven Balmoi, a political moderator claims that Bobi Wine was far popular in Northern Uganda while still under the People Power pressure group, and choosing to proceed under the NUP means he should now reinforce mobilization and target recruitments if he is to stand a chance.
“When they were still under the People Power movement, everyone identified with them and their political aspirations, now that they have formed a political party that comes with other implications, people have retreated and left NUP in the cold and they need to start recruitment,” Balmoi said.
According to Balmoi, NUP has managed to make drastic recruitments but the ‘kind of recruitments matter’
“They are not getting the crème de la crème, but going for every Tom, Dick, and Harry,” he said.
But NUP’s EC commissioner for Gulu, Gerald Oyeki is in disagreement, he states that the people being attracted by the NUP are those it intends to target.
“The beauty of NUP is that most of its support is derived from the local population and less from the political class. So the political class will have to trade the narrative for their own benefit,” Oyeki said.
But exactly how much rooted is NUP in Northern Uganda, can Bobi Wine’s music drive him to ballot success?
Balmoi says that is far from it, he says the party is yet to attract a given number of people willing to quit their primary parties.
“NUP is trying to get sympathizers, people who never had political parties, they were willing to move on with a political party platform,” Balmoi said.
Owori also states that the fact that many youths are picking red berets umbrellas, and NUP accessories do not guarantee the party any form of victory.
“It may not translate into votes,” Owor claims.
Owor however says with time NUP is able to achieve support with enough mobilization reaching out to the people.
“The chances of being able to win the support of the Northern region seem minimal because they have not been given a chance to mobilize, reach out to the people. They seem to be operating around a small area,” Owor said.
Zedriga has different ideas all together, she says NUP is now defining the Northern Uganda political agenda.
“Our major plan is Unity, we are sick and tired of having been disenfranchised. We are now defining the Northern Uganda political agenda,” she said.
Her words are supported by James Brian, a NUP contestant in Gulu who insists; “everywhere we go, they chant our slogan.”
The campaigns start on November 10th, does NUP have the capacity to spread its wings to the north scientifically or will it be another day for the NRM to register highly?