In 1996, a fresh Erias Lukwago addressed his maiden political rally. The youngman was bidding for the inter political front candidate (IPFC), Dr Paulo Kawanga Ssemogerere.
Ssemogerere had just broken ranks with President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni whose regime he had served as a minister in different dockets.
Dr. Warren Kizza Besigye had not broken ranks with Museveni at this juncture, but Ssemogerere’s former internal affairs deputy minister had started doubting his master’s democratic credentials.
Though Ssemogerere’s entry into the presidential race admittedly altered Museveni’s fortunes, but it wasn’t too much to rout the former guerrilla leader.
After begrudgingly losing the polls, Ssemogerere changed address from Kabuusu to Lubaga to leak his wounds while accusing Stephen BesweriAkabway of switching his victory.
Whether Ssemogerere had exploited the time he served with Besigye as his deputy in cabinet to give him lessons in opposition politics or it’s Ssemogerere’s charm which rubbed on Besigye, is a debate historians should take interest in.
But, as we all know and witnessed, after Ssemogerere had hanged the boots, Besigye stepped up as a dangerous substitute in 2001 to vie against his boss.
Indeed, Ssemogerere and Lukwago joined hands with Besigye and even rallied other political parties to leave the race for Kifeefe in a bid to unseat Museveni.
The defiant streak in Lukwago watched a defiant Besigye going against his master’s neck and the young man loved every punch Kifeefe was throwing at Kaguta.
Before leaving Museveni’s marriage, Besigye had uttered incredible things against the master, which left the defiant young soul in much awe and love of Kifeefe.
Well, Besigye shook the political scene, but the Tsunami the son of Kifeefe brought about wasn’t enough still to sweep the son of Kaguta off his throne.
Things were changing very fast at City House, the headquarters of the Democratic Party (DP). Radicalized youths had by now started questioning Ssemogerere’s long hold on power vis-a-vis Kawanga’s inability to expel Museveni.
Kawanga had succeeded BenedictoMagundaKiwanuka way back in 1979 after Amin Dada’s rascals pulled the former chief justice out of his chambers in Kampala high court to his dreadful death.
So, according to these youths, Kawanga had stayed on the throne for far too long to be heard questioning Kaguta’s hold on power!
A section of militant DP youths were even going overboard, questioning the elder’s loyalty referencing his long service with Museveni’s regime as a weapon.
Lukwago remembering he owes his political fortunes to Ssemogerere, wasn’t among the youth disturbing the oldman.
One Al-Hajj Nasser NtegeSsebaggala (RIP) was the one,albeit, behind the scenes, inciting and actually oiling the war against the old man.
Seya was oiling the war because he thought he fitted the bill as far as replacing Ssemogerere was concerned. He had been with the party for a long time and spent his lifetime and funds promoting the party. Just like that, he thought, he deserved a turn to serve at the party helm.
Seya was wrong. He was a Muslim. DP wasn’t founded by muslims. Muslims are welcome to DP, but not as President Generals. He was lowly educated. DP is a party for elites (read brain power). He was street smart, (read Muyaye) yet DP is a party for gentlemen. Bayaaye are welcome to DP but as cheerleaders.
As Ssemogerere scanned Anthony Ssekweyama and Patrick Musisi to see who fitted his shoes, Ssekweyama dramatically passed on in an accident. As he mourned, Musisi followed Ssekweyama to the grave! His choices were now limited!
Meanwhile, a clueless Seya was still keeping his dream alive. Poor Seya! He would wake up from slumber when John Ssebaana Kizito landed from nowhere to snatch the top prize. Oh, Seya was devastated! He left DP in anger, going on to form the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
After Seya had left, Lukwago started nursing ambitions of replacing Ssebaana as President General. His bid was dead on arrival. Why? He is a Muslim. He is a radical. Although his ethnic background as a Muganda appeared to bring favour, other two attributes works against his bid.
Ssebaana was a nationalist without hating Buganda. He wasn’t inward looking. This is how he ended up supporting an Acholi in Norbert Mao to replace him. After all, Mao is an elite and and a gentleman.
Lukwago couldn’t question Ssebaanaloudly being a wealthy man and a party elder. He left silently starting the Truth and Justice movement.
A longtime admirer of Besigye, in 2011 he got a chance to support his love against the DP candidate, Norbert Mao. Lukwago handed the Truth and Justice campaign machine to Besigye to use to market his candidature.
It was the same story in 2016 when Lukwago showed too much love for Besigye by daringly swearing him in as the elected President of Uganda much as the Electoral Commission had announced Museveni as the winner.
Besigye was charged with treason over the mock swearing in while Lukwago went into hiding till the storm had settled. This week the state dropped treason charges against Besigye.
Lukwago has since offered free legal services to Besigye whenever he is arrested and whenever he has questioned Museveni’s poll victory in court.
Besigye has in turn been using his vast resources to fund Lukwago’s campaigns as well as pay for his treatment abroad.
Lukwago loved Besigye so much that he abandoned his tight pal Betty Nambooze Bakireke when the Lord Mayor joined FDC and Nambooze went to NUP.
“It was a very hard decision to make. All the same, we finally chose to go different ways. Good enough, we agreed to stick to the struggle using different foras,” Nambooze reminisces.
Besigye loves Lukwago so much that he literally made him the deputy president of his People’s government before Lukwago eventually formally took up the FDC party card and vice president’s card.
Besigye loves Lukwago so much he has just appointed him his deputy at his new Red Card Campaign.
Take it or leave it, Besigye is grooming Lukwago to succeed him as the candidate to stand against his nemesis in Yoweri and possibly rout him which is Kifeefe’s ultimate dream.
The two are inseparable because each is fighting another’s war. They are fitting because each one of them want to use the other to achieve his dreams.
They love each other because they are daredevils. They dare to dream.
Who knows, Dr. Ssemogerere could have talked to Besigye to allow Lukwago substitute him as he (Ssemogerere) allowed Besigye to substitute him!