By Philip Kalema
With Museveni set to announce members of his next five year cabinet after winning the January 14 elections, the name Jacob Oulanyah has once again come back in the news.
In 2016, Oulanyah gave Speaker Kadaga sleepless night after he declared he needed her office at any cost. As expected, Kadaga stuck to her guns over retaining the seat she had then occupied for only five years. The impasse only got resolved at the NRM Caucus meeting where party Chairman Museveni convinced the Deputy out of the race.
It has however been widely rumoured that the deal for Oulanyah’s withdrawal involved a verbal agreement for Kadaga to give way when her current term ends in May this year and give way for her deputy.
But as we speak now, Kadaga has already declared her intention of retaining the seat, obviously to the displeasure of Oulanyah who equally looks determined to try his luck at all costs.
Whereas Museveni will strongly feel indebted to reward Oulanyah who, as Vice Chairman Northern Uganda for the ruling party delivered an unprecedented victory for the party in the region, the prospect of openly fighting a very popular and Kadaga seems highly suicidal politically.
Besides not being a sure win for whoever will be on the Oulanyah side, the contest that is likely to ensue would certainly leave behind a highly divided House, something that Museveni has effectively tried to prevent since 1996.
It is against that background that speculators have come out in their numbers to tip Oulanyah for the Vice Presidency instead as this would save Museveni the headache by rewarding his Party Vice Chairman’s mobilization heroics while at the same time avoiding a costly clash with Kadaga.
When deeply analysed, the prospect of appointing makes much sense especially at a time when Buganda and Busoga, the only two regions to have held the position in the past voting against the ruling party. As a matter of fact, Museveni has over the years mastered the art of rewarding the regions where he wins most with cabinet appointments. It is thus not surprising that the North, far Eastern and West Nile which have historically voted against NRM in the past have not had a Vice President.
Besides, Kadaga equally remains an influential party cadre whose displacement could cause losses to the party in terms of numbers. As such, by making Oulanyah his Vice, Museveni will have killed two birds with one stone.