BUKEDEA CANDIDATES DEFEND USE OF MONEY IN CAMPAIGNS
Bukedea Candidates Defend Use Of Money In Campaigns
Candidates vying to go to parliament in Bukedea district are struggling to square up with demands the electorate are bombarding them with. From personal to social demands, candidates say voters in the 2021 election campaigns have a lot of expectations of them which has made them dig deep into their pockets.
That aside, candidates themselves are competing in terms of spending by giving out handouts and services to woo support from the electorate. Daniel Emaasit, an aspirant for Member of Parliament, Bukedea County, defends this arguing that it is a way of showing voters one’s capability in providing services to the people once elected into office.
“Handouts help voters to gauge the candidate’s generosity and warm heartedness so I don’t hesitate to give whenever and wherever I can,” Emaasit says.
He says he has so far repaired over 20 boreholes in his constituency and is willing to fix more. Among other things, he has supported churches through cash donations during fundraisings and helped repair a bridge in Kidongole Sub County and Busano in Aminit Sub County. He says he bought studio equipment to enhance music talent among the youth in Bukedea town council and has mentored young pastors. Emasit says he has also done none financial initiatives like connecting people to jobs.
Another aspirant for MP Bukedea, Keneth Eyatu says he has also generously helped donate hospital beds in Bukedea Health Center IV and Kidongole Health Center III. Eyatu says he injected over 2 Million shillings to repair boreholes in the many villages in the constituency most notable that of Koreng parish in Kangole Sub County which he says had spent over two years non-functional.
The FDC candidate for Bukedea County MP Oita Sam Odeke admits that much as he does not have enough cash to splash among voters, he has been able to take at least 200 students hailing from his constituency to various secondary schools in the district. This is under the Oita Sam Odeke Education Initiative.
The former bursar at Amus College School adds that he also gave pens branded in his name to all learners in the district. Odeke says he has also helped generate Official documents for all LC1 chairpersons in Bukedea county.
“I have given each LC1 50 headed papers detailing his address which has helped authenticate their work,”Oita says.
Omoding Peterson who is also vying for MP Bukedea says he has bought a vehicle, tents and chairs which help people during burials. He contributed to village associations in order to enhance economic empowerment. “I cannot tell you the amount but I have supported over 30 village groups with account books and cash support. I also helped repair a number of boreholes and spring wells in the constituency under the safe water initiative,” Mr. Omoding said.
The incumbent Ikojo John Bosco who is the NRM flag bearer says he has supported his constituents generously in the past five years. He says his list is long but highlighted; supporting women and youth groups with capital to start businesses. He has supported close to 500 students at different levels of education including University, Primary and secondary school.
Ikojo mentions that he used personal money to fix some bad roads in his constituency. He bought sauce pans and utensils to a number of burial groups in his constituency and also offers financial assistance in burial ceremonies across the county.
“During the recent campaigns for the NRM primaries we even got some cash donations from MP Ikojo,” John Omojo a resident of Opauber trading center in Malere Sub County says.
Joshua Okiria of Kapopong village, Kachonga parish said the MP gave them ‘fuel’ to run around with to collect signatures which the rural electrification agency wanted such that their village would also benefit from the rural electrification exercise.
MP Ikojo says he recently bought facemasks and hand washing facilities for schools in his constituency. Another candidate in the Bukedea race, former MP George Steven Ekuma who was unavailable for an interview was described by voters as a “give direct” because he prefers giving cash to voters during rallies.
“Ekuma usually gives cash and soap to women during rallies.
This makes people want to throng his campaign venues,” says Mary Akia of Bukedea town council. She says he also buys booze during the climax of campaigns citing the recent NRM primaries.
Okello Tom, the other candidate in the Kachumbala race says that much as he doesn’t support ‘buying’ of votes, he supports community initiatives. He says he recently bought sanitizers and hand washing facilities to the people of Kachumbala.
To sum it up, voters in Bukedea district say they prefer candidates giving them cash because many have disappointed them once they go into parliament. “Once these people are elected, they disappear and only return during elections. So, we prefer that they give us our share before they go,” said Robert Tukei Ojuku a
voter from Kasoka village in Bukedea sub county. A report published by ACFIM on Commercialised politics in Uganda states that there is a perception within the Uganda political class that money softens the political ground and gets voters on your side.
Even when the electorates haven’t demanded, aspiring leaders will give out cash and gifts at every contact with their constituents.
Conversely, the voters in Bukedi region have been conditioned to be money hungry and expect money from politicians at every encounter. This situation is aggravated by the absence of the state in its welfare sense which is largely a result of weakened state institutions that have failed to provide social services to the people of this region.