State Minister for Foreign Affairs Henry Okello Oryem has said his loss in the just-concluded National Resistance Movement Party-NRM primary elections came as a surprise.
Oryem who first held the Chua County NRM flag in 2001 before shifting to Chua East County from 2011 to 2016, lost last week’s hotly contested primary elections to Godfrey Luwo, a relatively new player on the political scene. Luwo polled 14,906 votes defeating Oryem who garnered only 9,036 votes.
Speaking to Pearl Fm Oryem conceded defeat but noted that he never anticipated losing the elections. Oryem, however, says despite the surprising outcome of the elections, he had always planned for an exit, from 2006, when he lost the seat to Livingstone Okello-Okello.
At the time, Oryem, the son of the former Uganda President Gen Tito Okello Lutwa remained in parliament as an ex-official, until 2011 when he launched a comeback and ousted Okello-Okello.
Oryem says despite losing the race, he believes he has represented the people of Chua county exceedingly well, a record he is personally proud of. Oryem says he has been taking about 30 students annually to study abroad on various scholarship programmes since 2004, a contribution he says, has transformed the people ad the community.
Oryem however, is still undecided on his next political move.
Why Oryem Lost Chua East NRM Flag?
Oryem’s political might and influence in Kitgum district has been indisputable and for the past two terms, he has had an easy sail over his opponents. His bid for the fourth term for the Chua East parliamentary seat has, however, not gone without questions from a section of the electorate and local leaders who demanded accountability of his time spent in his office.
For instance, in the past three years in a row, Oryem’s performance in his constituency, attendance of plenary and committee sessions has been ranked the worst among members of parliament including the latest July ranking by Africa Leadership Institute.
Richard Komakech Pa’ilibo, the Mucwini Sub-county Chairperson and a member of the NRM party asserts that Oryem’s performance has been wanting over the years. He says that the legislator had abandoned the local leaders and instead chose to use the party structure and personal agents to fulfil his work in the constituency.
It’s this because of this that local leaders in the sub-counties of Omiya Anyima, Namokora and Orom ganged against Oryem with a coalition of opposition politicians.
Peter Opoka, a former coordinator of the Red Cross Society in Kitgum District who has been following Chua East Political trends says Oryem’s political strength was based on the regime’s structures which didn’t play out during the NRM primary election.
He also notes that Oryem was overtaken by the ministerial duties and forgot his legislative role leaving piles of issues unattended to at his constituency among them land conflicts.
Geoffrey Okot, another resident of Ogwapoke parish in Mucwini sub-county however, believes Oryem’s participation in voting on amending the controversial article 102 (b) of the Constitution which lifted presidential age limit cap of 75 years could have angered the electorate.
But Oryem said being an MP goes beyond speaking and sitting in parliament and involved the capacity of one to lobby for his people which he has done tremendously.
Who is Luwo? Luwo hails from the Goda clan in Pogoda Parish, Namokora sub-county, the same areas as Oryem. He made his first shot in politics in the 2016 parliamentary elections and contested as an independent candidate for Chua East County but lost the election. He is the current Chief Finance Officer at Restoration Gateway.