OYAM TALES: Political Fanaticism; The Curious Story of Ex Opposition MP Otto

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Recently, a little-known opposition politician, named Ishaa Otto Amiza, also former Oyam South MP, published a “blistering” screed in various online publications. The article titled, “Citizens, friends of Uganda, stand up now for civic action against militarism.”

It was obviously triggered by the recent loss of the collective opposition in the Kayunga Local Council elections. In the article, the former legislator threw all facts through the window and bared out his soul.

Calling the Kayunga elections “bloody and shameless” — an obvious lie — the author went on to vent his anger at the NRM government. In an attempt to write a “Mein Kampf” translated as my struggle, for the People’s Front for Transition, the increasingly beleaguered “pressure group” started by Dr Besigye and, abandoning all pretence to common sense and decency, the author went into a 1210 words tirade. The details are too gory to repeat here. But you can read for yourself.

Ex MP Otto’s claim to fame, for those who do not know, was inheriting the parliamentary seat of the late formidable Oyam South MP Yefusa Okullu Epak. Otto was able to pull off this unlikely coup when the preferred UPC candidate, Nelson Adea, for some inexplicable reasons, backed off the UPC ticket. Otto was then plucked from relative obscurity by the UPC elders and installed as a UPC candidate and he handily won the by-election.

After serving for two and half years in parliament, the head of the upstart politician swelled. He started antagonizing his UPC godparents. The UPC echelons, irked by the incorrigible character, replaced him with Betty Amongi, the Minister of Gender. And that was the end of the political life, so to say, of the Honorable Ishaa Otto Amiza.

Highly frustrated from being sent to political Siberia, the now-former MP latched from one scandal to another. During the walk to work protests, he hired a motorcycle, and started a hit and run operation of burning tyres in the streets of Lira City. When the population shunned and paid scant attention to him, he went into hibernation. He resurrected when he joined the failed revolt in UPC under lawyer Peter Walubiri. He baptized himself UPC Secretary-General and set up an office in an obscure space in a shopping mall and started issuing statements in the names of UPC.

Irate UPC youth, angered by his lack of respect for Jimmy Akena, the revered UPC President and former first son, smoked him out, whence he jumped out of the window and escaped by a whisker. His stunt as UPC Secretary-General ended that way.

He turned himself into a social media warrior. He started posting obscenity-laced posts in Lango community WhatsApp groups. Here, apart from angering sane users, he was largely ignored.

The man, like the proverbial cat, has nine lives. Recently, he resurfaced as Vice President, Northern Uganda of Kizza Besigye’s Red Card Movement. The movement was largely laughed out of town by political watchers. Sensing that his political fortune is not improving anytime soon, Otto’s frustration mounted.

These frustrations were laid bare in the missive. With a soul filled with hate and with no decorum whatsoever, Otto poured forth the darkness he harboured. I read one of his articles closely and detected a damaged soul of a dangerous fanatic.

The Nigerian Nobel laureate and playwright, defining who a fanatic is, said, in a BBC Reith Lecture, that a fanatic is him whose motto is, “I am right, you’re dead”. I am afraid Otto is a dangerous political fanatic.

For a zealot and a fanatic, there is no middle ground. There is no meeting at the centre. There is no give and take. They don’t believe in the cardinal law of politics that says, “there are no permanent enemies and no permanent friends: there are only permanent interests”. That’s what makes a fanatic a dangerous person. His only interest is that the other side should cease to exist. But what if the other side is a solid majority?

The NRM is like a bowl of hot soup. Those who have plunged recklessly into it have burnt their fingers badly in the past. Perhaps, it would be advisable for one to gingerly explore the edges of NRM. As Nobert Mao, the Oracle of Gulu, and President General of Uganda’s oldest and most unsuccessful political party, said, “it is dangerous to launch a missile from a boat.”

The writer is a patriot from Minakulu, in Oyam District

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