By Belguin Prosper L
The 23rd law of power advises one to learn the art of “concentrating their forces”. NRM’s architects have failed to understand how to concentrate the party’s forces that can influence youths in Uganda, without much of a hustle.
In battle, you do not go to a gun fight with a knife. NRM architects might be able to make the best manifesto when it comes to economic policy, security measures, among other things, but they are still lacking when it comes to creating, preserving and increasing loyalty among youth masses in favor of NRM.
This is an issue they might still shy away from or are living with, but I call that “denial”. Uganda’s youth have evolved since 1986. The truth of the matter is that youth no longer feel they owe NRM anything. Maybe their parents and grandparents felt so back then, but their offspring no longer feel the same way.
As decades pass, this change in perception becomes more and more inevitable which eventually leads to a very motivated and riot-like generation. Youth are no longer just moved by policy, but by both policy and who is behind that policy.
Does that person speak the “language” they understand? Is that person “youth” like them? Is that person influential to them? If yes, then that means that person can breakdown a policy into a language they best understand and they will welcome it whether or not it makes sense. In power, this is called “having the ability to create a cult-like following”.
This is where I come to a reality that everyone in NRM still shies away from; that reality is; Moses Ssali aka Bebe Cool is NRM’S biggest brand. The downside is, NRM architects think that anyone by virtue of being a musician, celebrity or public figure has the qualifications to become influential among youths and this is where NRM gets it wrong and they focus on several small wells and forget to dig deeper into an already existing big well.
Eventually, the small wells run out of water and by the time NRM thinks of going back to the big well that only needs deeper digging so as to supply more endless water, the big well is probably already full of rocks making digging harder and time already wasted.
NRM architects need to come to the realization that in Uganda, all Ugandan celebrities within NRM combined together, none of them has the ability to create a cult-like following like Bebe Cool within NRM.
I do not intend to under-appreciate such members’ contributions to the NRM (they are definitely very valuable to NRM and their contributions mean a lot to the party), but in this case, NRM’s architects need to look at things in a more practical, honest and logical way.
Remember, politics is a war and each player needs to identify and acknowledge the best weapons for special scenarios and do all possible things to make sure those weapons are at their best at all costs.
This is not something that should be debatable if NRM needs to create solutions to the youth voter churn-rate within the NRM party. So much effort and resources have probably been wasted on ensuring perceived “influencers” join NRM and abscond their original parties and less effort has been put in first ensuring that the already existing “influencers” within NRM are well positioned and secured to carry out NRM duties without lack.
That level of thinking that is based on panic and not based on carefully thought-out strategy is likely to cost NRM in the future in a number of ways.
Based on careful analysis, the new “influencers” who join NRM during or nearing election period after absconding their original parties, will never achieve targets intended especially in both short and long run unless they have a clear strategy to clean the PR crisis caused to themselves, because personally, I would be mad to even straight away trust someone who joins me at last hour compared to those that have stood by me from the very beginning.
Additionally, new comers have a long journey towards understanding the strategic journey NRM has moved, with who, why and why which ideology and intended consumers of that ideology.
Why Bebe Cool? Among other factors not mentioned in here, Ugandans have loved Bebe Cool from day one for one simple reason, they know he not multifaceted. Regardless of how “evil” some people might term him, but his loyalty has been clear to all youth from day one.
Many have learned to still love him the way he is and appreciate him and his beliefs because his loyalty has been to one party from day one despite many trying to intimidate him with booing him off concert stages, pelting him with bottles.
That phase also came to pass and the only option left was to love him the way he is. It has now become natural unbiased love from the youth public and fans. When it comes to youth, it has now become normal to love Bebe Cool because they are used to his political decision now and all they can focus on is the old love they had for him, his personality status and his music.
You can compare the love people have for Bebe Cool to that they have for Raga Dee despite his political camp, though definitely, Bebe Cool has higher rating when it comes to creating a “cult-like” following among youth masses.
Bebe Cool defends his party naturally. He is not someone who will be taught what to speak and how to say it. He will defend the party basing on the natural gut he has and sometimes when you listen to his retaliations carefully, they make humane sense and countering his words becomes uneasy compared to those that defend the party only after being coached on what to say before the media.
They tend to appear smarter than they actually are. This means Bebe Cool has the ability to sit down someone and help them realize the good in NRM naturally, without forcing it on them. This creates a love or NRM that is naturally realized and not just coerced by pressure.
This is where loyalty is built or simply mirrored. What NRM needs to do; NRM needs to re-evaluate its loyalty to Bebe Cool and not just as a person but as a brand. It needs to understand his needs as a brand and focus on positioning his brand and yet reversely and strategically position herself in the due course.
NRM needs to focus on making sure Bebe Cool is the primary face of the party before the youth and not bringing forth new faces every now and then. Let the new faces come as a supplementary to the existing face and create a synergy. The results will speak volumes and NRM will have started a new generation of loyal cadres among youths.
NRM needs to work with that new face, to create a new promise, communicated from NRM through Bebe Cool, to the youths.
Initially, Bebe Cool had a good tag line of “Silent Majority” which would have been powerful enough to capture youth, but it just needed an upper hand and few strategic touches that create measurable impact among youth masses when it comes to influencing them to begin to subscribe to NRM ideology as result of the tagline.
Currently, no influencer within NRM has a viral tagline that can out beat what Bebe Cool had started. In conclusion, NRM needs to focus on rule number 23 of the laws of power, and it states that; “Conserve your forces and energies by keeping them concentrated at their strongest point. You gain more by finding a rich mine and mining it deeper, than by flitting from one shallow mine to another; intensity defeats extensity every time.”
When looking for sources of power to elevate you, find the one key patron, the fat cow who will give you milk for a long time to come.
NRM needs to do exactly that and dig Bebe Cool more, he is currently their best shot and each day that passes by without them realizing or acknowledging it, they are breaking rule 23 of power and for every law broken, there is another keeping that law and reaping from it from a different camp.
NRM’s architects need to face that reality and welcome it for the good of the party, whether some love Bebe Cool or not. It is time to put arrogance and pride aside and look at the reality in order to get this bus moving at a faster speed.
These thoughts are solely by Belguin Prosper L, he is a market intelligence and strategy expert and the founder and CEO of Young & Free International, a youth supporting, market intelligence and lobbying company.