By Julius Odeke
Tororo County MP, Geoffrey Ekanya, who is vying for the presidency of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party in elections in November, spoke to The Independent’s Julius Odeke about his strategy.
You have been praised for your brilliant ideas, but some say you are unsuited because you are still young. What do you say to them?
I am not contesting to be the head of the state but to be the president for my own party, FDC. I am not seeking the leadership of this country as the head of the state. I am 41 years old but people should not judge me by my age. In the Ugandan constitution, any person from 18 years and above can become a leader. If anything I am the most experienced politicians of the three who are vying for FDC party presidency.
What contributions do you want to make as leader?
I want to make FDC a party of hope not only in FDC but in other political parties. People should see that we, as FDC, bring hope to the poor people in rural and in urban areas, to the war-ravaged areas. To the youth who have no hope, I say it’s only youthful Ekanya who can bring hope to them because I know they do not have jobs. FDC should be a party that will restore hope in farmers on whom our economy relies.
How will you achieve this project of restoring hope? Do you have the money?
I will work together with every Uganda-loving citizen. That is why I want the support of everyone come November 22, the voting day. I do not want to allow these elections to divide us the three candidates; Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu, Nandala Mafabi and I. I worked tirelessly to ensure that FDC was brought on board. We were barely six people that include; Alex Onzima, Reagan Okumu, Maj. Okwir Rabwoni, Kibazanga and others. We traversed the country and worked to give birth to the FDC party.
What is the future of FDC as a party once you are elected the party president?
I want FDC to be like the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa. It was started by a few individuals but is today a vibrant party that can remove the president when he fails to deliver. I do not want issues where a president fails to deliver and the members cannot do anything to remove him because he is seen as the only person with a vision in that party. We have had such cases in Africa where leaders become bigger than the parties that voted them into power.
At one point you were rumoured to have crossed to NRM. What is your comment over that?
The moment Ugandans see you seated with either President Yoweri Museveni or any other NRM leader, and then they begin saying you have crossed the floor of the House. Does attending a launching ceremony of Malaba Port with the President make me cross to NRM party? My mission is to reach out to those NRM supporters and convince them to join FDC party.
There seems to be a problem in FDC that some MPs have refused to pay their agreed membership fee. What is your take on that?
To my knowledge all the monies that FDC members of parliament agreed to be paying annually in order to help in day-to-day running of the party have been paid. We operate in teamwork; there is no way MPs can refuse to pay what they agreed upon.
During the walk-to-work demonstrations, some FDC MPs were simply bystanders. Did you participate?
I participated fully. However, I do not need to look for teargas so that I can tell Ugandans that I have been teargased. If anything, I sustained wounds all over my body in those demonstrations. Look at my legs here what are these? Those wounds you are seeing are a result of those walk-to-work demonstrations. I am not supposed to celebrate because it was human rights violations that the state meted to Ugandans in their own country.
What mechanisms has FDC as a party put in place to ensure that there is no vote rigging both in your party elections in November 22, and the national elections?
There will be no rigging in our party elections. Nobody will snatch our victory come 2016. FDC is going to rule this country and offer better services that Ugandans have yearned for all long. I am the only medicine to this together, with other members in the party.
What policies do you have in your manifesto that you want people to vote you for as their party leader?
I am not a regional or a tribal leader that is what Ugandans should know first. I want to rebrand FDC from its current methods to a new and modern FDC. I want FDC to be like ANC of South Africa. I want to amend our party constitution and principles to encompass both the old and new party supporters and those who have made a contribution to the party. I will develop a system of identification whereby we shall be in position to know and identify our supporters. FDC is going to be like a cooperative society where all its shareholders benefit. We need to work in order to improve the lives of Ugandans. That is why I am proposing work-to-work project.
How are you going to achieve all these?
We shall repair wells, boreholes, roads, hospital, and bring model farming methods. Our supporters will be mobilised to do volunteer work, to work like a missionary group. We are going to establish regional offices so that party meetings shall be held in those offices but not only in Kampala. We are going to abandon our comfortable lives here in Kampala and go to the ground and do work.