Legislators have praised former Speaker of Parliament, Rt Hon. Jacob Oulanyah who passed on Sunday, 20 March 20220 in Seattle, USA.
The tribute to honour Oulanyah was moved during a special sitting of the House chaired by Speaker, Anita Among on Tuesday, 05 April 2022. The Vice President, HE Jesca Alupo moved the motion to pay tribute to Oulanyah.
Alupo described him as meticulous servant of Uganda whose exemplary and distinguished career spanned his leadership of the 11th Parliament as Speaker from 24 May 2021 up to the time of his death.
He also served as the Deputy Speaker of the 10th and Ninth Parliaments.
“His leadership greatly contributed to strengthening adherence to the rule of law, parliamentary practice, political tolerance and the spirit of humanity. He also encouraged cohesion amongst different shades of opinion,” she said.
She outlined the different leadership positions held by Oulanyah that included Member of Parliament for Omoro County and NRM Vice Chairperson for Northern Region.
Oulanyah also served as the Chairperson of the Commission of inquiry into the sub-lease of Kisekka Market in 2008 as well as the Chairperson of the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs from May 2001 to 2005.
Alupo said Oulanyah’s contribution to Acholi sub-region was most evident through his participation in the peace talks between the Government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army.
She also cited his role in promoting Government programmes for the social and economic transformation of the people of Acholi sub-region.
“He was the UN special envoy to the Uganda peace talks between the Government and the LRA. He also participated in drafting the Juba Peace Agreements in 2006, which earned him an honorary Doctorate of Divinity by Zoe Life Theological College in the USA,” the Vice President added.
Speaker Among described Oulanyah as a devoted advocate of the principle of ‘Ubuntu’, saying he believed everybody ought to be treated fairly.
She added that his negotiation skills at fostering peace will be missed by the country, alluding to his role in the pacification of Northern Uganda from the LRA.
“I request the persons whom our fallen leader could have hurt knowingly or unknowingly to forgive him just as he forgave everybody who hurt him, so that he can go in peace,” Among said.
The Prime Minister, Rt Hon. Robinah Nabbanja who seconded the motion lauded Oulanyah for fostering collaboration between Parliament and the executive through prioritizing Government business.
She said the former speaker sought to restore public confidence in the institution of Parliament by urging legislators to debate issues of national importance and perfect service delivery to Ugandans.
“Oulanyah was a pro-people person. His last task in the House before being hospitalized was the passing of the NSSF Bill which legalized mid-term access to members’ savings,” said Nabbanja.
The Premier told of Oulanyah as an accomplished leader, a true nationalist and a visionary and progressive legislator whose legacy will outlive him.
The Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Mathias Mpuuga said Oulanyah was a social worker who worked his way up to.
“As the Opposition in Parliament, we had fallen in love Oulanyah the Speaker and not the politician. He was able to draw a boundary between being a leader and being a politician, which is why he had the right balance,” Mpuuga said.
He added that Oulanyah, as a presiding officer, exhibited a level of fairness to all sides of the House.
“He wanted to work with the Opposition on everything that seeks to serve our citizens. He advised that he preferred the leadership of both sides of the House to use the Westminster model of meeting regularly to iron out issues of divergence,” said the LOP.
The First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Affairs, Rt Hon. Rebecca Kadaga said she had a good working relationship with Oulanyah while they served as Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively, in the Ninth and 10th Parliaments.
She recounted how she came to learn that her Deputy at the time was unwell and receiving treatment after she sought his input on the House business.
“It was in 2019 when I realized that Hon Oulanyah was not well. It happened by accident and I was looking for him because we were approaching Christmas recess and there were some items I was looking for on the order paper,” Kadaga said.
“The diagnoses you saw after he became a Speaker are similar to when he was Deputy Speaker. All I can say is I think he was struggling but was also trying to fulfil his obligation to the constituency, the party [NRM] and Parliament,” she added.
Kadaga appealed to the Prime Minister, the Attorney General and the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, to follow up the Copyright and Neighboring Rights Act of 2006, which was a result of a Private Member’s Bill moved by Oulanyah in Seventh Parliament.
“In honour of Hon. Jacob Oulanyah, let us ensure that this law is implemented because he wanted it. He was one of few people who moved a successful Private Members Bill in the previous Parliaments,” said Kadaga.
Legislators eulogised the former speaker as a leader who always methodically guided on matters of adequate legislation and always made time for MPs, to listen to their concerns.
They described Oulanyah as their mentor, a peacemaker, a patriot and man of integrity whose input they will dearly miss.
Hon. Remigio Achia (NRM, Pian County) proposed that Parliament marks the 23 of March every year as a memorial day to honour the life of the former Speaker which was seconded by Vice President, Jessica Alupo.