Campaigns are in high gear for the Arua Municipality parliamentary seat, with 12 candidates vying to replace the late Ibrahim Abiriga.
Abiriga was shot dead together with his bodyguard-cum brother Saidi Kongo in June by men riding on a motorcycle as he approached his home in Kawanda, Wakiso District.
The candidates are Ms Nusura Tiperu (NRM), Mr Bruce Musema (FDC), Mr Jaffar Alekua (Jeema) and Mr Kennedy Madira (DP). Others are Independents Kassiano Wadri, Francis Elton Nyero, Sunday Anguandia, Alfred Nyakuni, Jackson Atima, Simon Avutia, Safi Bavuga and Robert Ejiku
However, stiff competition is between NRM’s Tiperu, Independent Wadri and FDC’s Musema.
Mr Wadri is the former Terego County Member of Parliament while Mr Musema was defeated by the late Abiriga in the 2016 race. Mr Musema enjoys massive support from the elite, youth and the elderly.
The NRM block vote stands threatened by Mr Atima, who is running as an independent after losing to Ms Tiperu in the NRM primaries.
On the other hand, FDC nominated Mr Musema without holding primaries but Mr Wadri, who is a party member, protested the move and stood as an independent.
Speaking after his nomination last week, Mr Wadri said: “I am contesting because of the infighting in FDC and the party’s rigidity. The people of the municipality need someone who can push for their agenda so that we can have stability. The women and youth groups need support.”
Nevertheless, the FDC candidate has the backing of the Uganda People’s Congress party.
Mr Harold Acemah, a UPC member, says: “We are officially supporting the FDC candidate although this election may not be easy to win. We support him because there has been no official candidate from UPC party and so we need to unite with the FDC and push for Musema’s win.”
River Oli Division is the battleground area. Former MPs Akbar Godi, Gabriel Aridru and late Abiriga got most votes from the division where majority women vote in big numbers.
Speaking about her agenda, Ms Tiperu, the only woman in the race, says: “I want to ensure that the women and youth benefit from the government programmes such as the Operation Wealth Creation because it has not been implemented very well. Our people need to be empowered economically. I will also try to lobby for alternative sources of power for this municipality and this will be at the core of development.”
Mr Atima says: “We need leaders who can provide accountability for government programmes. We need a trusted leader to foster development and that that is me.”
Another candidate, Mr Avutia, says: “Arua needs a vibrant leader who is focussed on youth and women affairs. We are still grappling with poverty and I need to pacify and redeem the image of Arua.”
Mr Bavuga says: “There is a need to improve the education sector because of the continued poor performance. And this can also be achieved through involving the youth in ICT because they have potential of starting their businesses in the town.”
In Arua Hill Division, there is less election pomp and usually fewer voters turn up for elections.
Mr Robert Ejiku, a businessman, says: “This municipality should be expanded because we need a city so that most of the activities can be done from here and businessmen not necessarily going to Kampala. We need to have the youth engaged in economic activities through the skills that could be imparted in them.” The Electoral Commission is currently displaying the voters’ register. Voting is on August 15.