The Kampala City Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago, is a desperate man following the gigantic victory the National Unity Platform (NUP) registered in Kampala in last week’s elections.
In a desperate attempt to save his job, this website has exclusively learnt that the once Kampala’s darling is now courting some contestants to abandon the mayoral race, a move he hopes can increase his chances to survive the NUP political wave.
National Unity Platform, a newly registered party, won 10 out of 11 parliamentary seats in Kampala, sending shockwaves across rival political parties that once claimed dominance in the highly adored political area in Uganda’s politics.
In Thursday’s election, NUP took parliamentary seats representing all five divisions of Kampala save for Kampala Central which was defended by a NUP leaning independent Muhamad Nsereko. NUP’s undisputed dominance in Central Uganda was also displayed across 24 districts in Buganda and cities; Masaka and Kampala.
This unexpected feat has left Lukwago startled ahead Wednesday’s election in which he is facing stiff competition against 10 other candidates for Kampala City lord mayoral seat. Front runners in the race include NUP’s Nabilah Naggayi Sempala the incumbent Kampala Woman MP, Joseph Mayanja aka Chameleone, and NRM’s Daniel Kazibwe.
The others are Charles James Ssenkubuge (Democratic Party), Isaac Sendagire, Eddie Bazira Kibalama, Ben Lule, and Innocent Kawooya, most of whom are running as Independents.
Much as the odds seem to be on Lukwago’s side against NUP’s Nabilah, the tide seem to have changed since Thursday’s result throwing Lukwago into panic. In the run-up to Nominations in October last year, Lukwago shunned NUP and joined the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).
A mayoral aspirant who preferred anonymity, told this website that Lukwago has reached out to him begging him to step down and possibly improve his chances to retain his seat.
While at his home last night, this politician claims he received emissaries from Lukwago asking him to drop the mayoral bid. The entourage, according to this politician, included Lukwago’s close confidants who went on to make “huge” promises as a bait to widen chances of Lukwago’s stay at City Hall.
“They extended huge promises to me but I told them I am staying in the race” He said.
The politician claims the group told him that Lukwago’s desperate attempt to keep his office had been approved by former DP president Dr Kawanga Ssemwogerere, who they said wanted to speak to him about the matter.
“They even rang Dr Ssemwogerere and told me to speak to him on phone as a way to convince me step down in favor of the Lord Mayor” He said. However, this assertion cannot be confirmed due to the complexity of the matter. What has been confirmed is that Lukwago has lately intensified political campaigns to retain his office save for previous cases when he enjoyed comfortable victory against his challengers.
Asked whether he is willing to drop out of the race, this politician claimed the call came late and the decision will negatively affect his future prospects.
“I cannot do it. What reason can I give my supporters. They (supporters) cannot take you serious next time” he stated.
In 2012, Lukwago comfortably won the mayorship for Kampala with 229,325 votes (64.4 percent) against 119,015 (33.4 percent) for the ruling party’s Peter Sematimba. Another candidate including Michael Mabikke of the Social Democrats Party, came a distant third with 4,092 (1.1 percent), followed by Edward Babu with 2,059 (0.58 percent), and two other independents Sandra Ngabo (1,035 or 0.29 percent) and Emmanuel Tumusiime (539 or 0.15 percent) completing the list.
In 2016, Lukwago was re-elected following a comfortable win with 176, 637 votes against 49,366 votes garnered by his closest rival, the National Resistance Movement-NRM party candidate, Daniel Kazibwe.
Lukwago’s confidence in his prospects to win the race was evident when he campaigned without any campaign poster due to his flourishing popularity then.
Upon re-election, Erias Lukwago scoffed at President Yoweri Museveni not to waste time planning for his ouster from City Hall, saying the vote had spoke for him. The statement related to an impeachment attempt on him which was later overturned in courts of law.
With the advent of NUP and the onslaught it inflicted on rival political groupings like FDC, DP and the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), Lukwago’s fears can be real.
NUP uprooted FDC’s strongmen in Kampala including Micheal Kabaziguruka (Nakawa), Ibrahim Kasozi (Makindye East) and Mubarak Munyagwa (Kawempa South). Makyindye West’s Allan Sewanyana was wise when he defected to NUP from DP just days to nominations.
In the neigbouring Wakiso District, only Ibrahim Semujju Nganda survived the NUP storm perhaps for his non confrontational approach to NUP’s interests. Others who counted out NUP like NRM’s Kibirige Sebunya and Wakiso Woman MP Rosemary Sseninde were thrown off board.