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What the new list of youthful political aspirants in Greater Nebbi means for seasoned politicians

By Mike Rwothomio

Sam Kumakech, the director of youth affairs and information in Alur kingdom and executive director of Smart Sams Service Foundation Uganda, has hinted about his intention to contest in the 2026 MP seat for Okoro County Zombo district.

Kumakech upon losing the 2021 LCIII seat for Paidha town council resorted to community services that included mobilising for resources to fix footbridges, fundraising for churches, supporting health care facilities through the provision of metallic beds, and organising sports events for youths amongst others.

Asked why he would wish to represent Okoro County when the right time comes he said “As a youth, I trust my leadership gut, people asking me whether I will contest in 2026 should be reading my preparation signs in the community from 2021 setting my structures from village to village all over Okoro County”

He added that “we have tangible work we did that we can point in each of those thematic area. Our preparation for leadership is not starting now, we started long time ago and the public is out there to decide.” But Kumakech shared that he still has a lot on his plate apparently since he is working with the Nebbi Anglican diocese and Alur kingdom. He said “My right time will come but preparation is ongoing”

There used to be a proverbial saying that youths are the leaders of tomorrow. But from the side look, the notion seems to be shifting the goalpost to the future and the tomorrow is now.

Kumakech is amongst a battery of youths who are getting their ducks in a row to assume political leadership come 2026 at different levels in greater Nebbi that encompasses the districts of Pakwach, Nebbi, Zombo and Nebbi Municipality.

This continuous pouring in of many youthful figures in the political scene if truly stands will be more hair-raising for most seasoned politicians many locals say.

To some, the phenomenon of many youths joining politics unlike before is exacerbated by a myriad of factors influencing Uganda’s political atmosphere which to many political activists is largely championed by the National Unity Platform (NUP) party president Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine), whose entrance into the political scene has seen a sizeable number of unbothered youths getting involved and also taking over leadership in the country.

In the 2021 Uganda general election, the nation witnessed a more robust youth participation in the county’s political scene that to many political analysts signified an undeniably changing political landscape.

Shifting away from the bigger picture at the national level, DailyExpress has taken a step to keenly analyse the political landscape in greater Nebbi ahead of the 2026 political season.

There are hundreds of youths that have publicly declared on social media platforms, local radios, and public places of gathering their intention of taking up leadership mantles at different levels across the sub region, outnumbering elders who used to be favourites. It is worth noting that youths used to be mobilizers and morale boosters for older persons during political campaigns.

Why a shift in goalpost?

Many youths who had a conversation with this reporter expressed their lost trust in some seasoned politicians and believe they too can turn the table around given their education qualification and experience.

A male youth activist who has since declared his interest in contesting as a member of parliament for Jonam County in Pakwach district said they no longer have trust in some seasoned politicians who have been in parliament for years but have nothing to show to the public.

“I can tell you that we started witnessing the leadership of some of these people in the early 2000s but nothing has changed under their leadership, I feel like we the youths have the potential to do what they have not done,” he says.

Notable amongst some of the faces familiar in the media is Joseph Sabiti, the former NBS television journalist, currently the press secretary to the Speaker of Ugandan Parliament, Rt Hon Anita Annet Among.

Sabiti has been lately cited in different places of public gathering like churches, and football matches amongst others. This is a strategy he is reportedly using to introduce himself to the electorates most of whom don’t know him completely. Sabiti currently galvanizing his quest for the Okoro County seat has organized a sports tournament for members of Zombo Boda-Boda Association which is still ongoing.

He recently posted on his Facebook page called Joseph Sabiti Foundation; “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality, the last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant. Good afternoon, Zombo, the great land of Alur we cherish and are proud of. 2026 is calling”

Rwothomio Sam, a youth activist who has also declared his ambition for the 2026 MP seat in Zombo said “Our elders and youths should have trust in us because positions of leadership should be occupied by the right person regardless of age”

Despite these youths’ political ambition, there is a growing scepticism amongst elders majority of whom are the real voters. This reporter talked to some older people.

Night Acanda aged 60, is a resident of Alengukuma cell, central ward Paidha town council, Zombo district. She sells palm oil in Paidha main market. Asked about the current youth involvement in the forthcoming 2026 general election, she said; “For me, I still doubt if these youths are serious, for us we need leaders who are old and mature enough to fight for our rights. We are not getting sage now yet am 60 years old, and that can best be presented by matured leaders who understand our challenge”

Bidongo Okun Andrew, A 73-year-old resident of Kololo cell in Paidha town, Zombo district said youths who are preparing for leadership should first start from local leadership to higher political positions.

“It is not bad for the youths to take up leadership but, many of the youths am seeing now, can’t manage leadership. Some of them are just on media talking yet in actual sense they are not tested. How can you convince me to entrust you with my vote yet I have not seen you leading even at a village youth council? “Bidongo asked

Grace Ajula 50, a resident of Sille village, Fualonga parish, Alwi sub county Pakwach district reasoned that “ some of the youths showing interests in leading us really need time to learn, we know they have the qualification but leadership is something that needs time, you can’t just come from nowhere and start leading us, you need to learn”

Vincent Ocokuru 67, a resident of Thatha ward, Nebbi municipality said “Many of them are declaring their intention on social media without coming to consult us. The first thing is we don’t know them, they need to first consult us before declaring their political ambition “

Apparently in Nebbi district, a thick battle line has been drawn between youthful aspirants and elders. The youthful LCV of Nebbi Emmanuel Orombi is moving a step ahead to a juicier position of the area Member of Parliament Padyere County. He is joining a couple of youthful aspirants who are getting their ducks in a row to clinch the seat.

Recently, the newly appointed state minister of energy and mineral development Phiona Nyamutoro also the national female youth Member of Parliament pompously landed home to celebrate her appointments with the electorates of Nebbi District at Nyaravur-Angal town council where she hails from.

Nyamutoro to many has climbed the leadership ladder so first and this publication is reliably informed that her homecoming celebration which mustered hundreds of people in her backyard in Mbaro, was more of introducing and endorsing her political ambition for Nebbi district woman Member of Parliament seat.

With the already strong financial backing given her positioning, the current woman Member of Parliament for Nebbi and a veteran teacher Agnes Acibu has a daunting task lying ahead.

A couple of young faces have equally expressed their interest in the contest for the Nebbi woman Member of Parliament seat, this publication understands. The coming in of these young energetic youths with new ideologies to many, is sort of white-washing the old narrative that old people are the most result oriented-leaders.

Saviour Rwothomio, the youth chairperson Nebbi District has equally declared his intention to contest for the LCV Chairperson of Nebbi District.

In a twist of the event, Emmanuel Ongiertho, the area Member of Parliament for Jonam County Pakwach district is shifting his goal post to contest in Nebbi Municipality taking over Hashim Suleiman the current MP of Nebbi Municipality.

And the youthful Pakwach LCV chairperson Omito Robert Steen has openly declared his intention to contest for Jonam County.

Apparently, media reports indicate that in Pakwach, the ground will be extremely harsh for many politicians, given the continuous operation of fisheries protection unit on the waters of river Nile and Lake Albert making life extremely hard for the fishing community.

Many other youths have shown interest in the Member of Parliament seat in Pakwach District, rolling heads with the old guards who still garner firm support and trust from the older persons.

In Uganda, young people make up nearly half of all registered voters with approximately 6.4 million young voters under the age of 30 and the youths form 78 percent of the country’s population according to the 2014 population census.

During a youth summit organized by youths at Paidha cultural centre in Paidha town council Zombo district recently, The LC III chairperson of Paidha town council Innocent Onega said, there is absolutely nothing unconstitutional about youths taking up political mantles in the area.

As the contestants’ lists keep blotting, some people believe many people will pull out of the race given the country’s high commercialization of politics.

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