At the close of last week, Parliament organised a luncheon for outgoing General Counsel to Parliament, Pius Perry Biribonwoha, in recognition of his distinguished service.
The Clerk to Parliament, Adolf Mwesige, who represented the Deputy Speaker at the event, handed Biribonwoha a plaque.
Speaking during a luncheon organised to bid him farewell at Sheraton on Friday, Mwesige commended Biribonwoha for professionalism and integrity.
“I’m entirely grateful to you. I commend Pius for two things. Fundamental things namely; professionalism and integrity. It is one thing to be ap professional but it is another to be a professional with integrity,” Mwesige said.
He added: “So professionalism without integrity is meaningless. I’m very proud of Pius that he is well-grounded in both and I have no doubt in my mind that he is going to the office of the Solicitor General…and it (office) will benefit a lot from his traits of integrity and professionalism.”
Biribonwoha was last month appointed Deputy Solicitor General, after serving Parliament for 14 years.
His experience in the legal field spans two decades. He served as Parliament’s Director, Legal and Legislative Services from May 2008 to May 2019 before being promoted to General Counsel.
In his speech, Biribonwoha said following his appointment as the Deputy Solicitor General of Uganda by His Excellency the President, he has transferred his services from the Uganda Parliamentary Service to the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs effective March 1, 2022.
He thanked his supervisors, the Members of Parliament, the Parliamentary Commission, the Rt. Hon. Speaker and all the comrades he worked with to serve the institution of Parliament and the nation.
Present at the luncheon were; his wife Dr. Harriet Biribonwoha who serves as Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Research Director with Columbia University in New York; Evace Kabahukya, his mother who is also a retired civil servant from the Prime Minister’s Office; Richard Biribonwoha, his brother who works as foreign service officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Liam Perry Ayendwa, his son who is on vacation and will soon be joining university to read law.
Below is Biribonwoha’s farewell speech:
No one ever achieves success singlehandedly. We stand on the shoulders of many and make our contribution each helping the other and altogether serving our nation. In this regard, I have enjoyed overwhelming support of the leadership in Parliament and the excellent team of colleagues in the service to attain the following achievements:
(a) Spearheading the creation of the Office of the General Counsel, which currently supervises two departments;
(b) Under my stewardship, the legal services in the Parliament of Uganda have grown from about five lawyers to the current 18 lawyers in post. When the proposed structure is fully implemented the team will comprise 38 lawyers and two law clerks to meet the ever-increasing needs of the Legislature.
(c) Ensuring that the Legal Office in Parliament is a certified law firm headed by the General Counsel as approved by the Law Council and further;
(d) Ensuring that all lawyers in the Parliamentary Service are issued with a practicing certificate every year as required by law;
(e) Growing the visibility and impact of the legal and legislative services in the institution which in turn has contributed immensely to the output of the Legislature.
(f) Ensuring quality legal services with the support of my colleagues in the service to shield the institution from legal risk;
As I move to my next assignment, I am confident that I leave behind a formidable legal team that is at par with the best in the field. I am leaving in place a team whose abilities I trust; a team whose competency is not in question; and a team I am proud to associate with.
There is no doubt that the institution faces situations on a regular basis that require legal services. One of the challenges that we faced was the lack of a universal appreciation of in-house legal services. It is important that the role of legal/legislative counsel to the institution be appreciated.
The other challenge was mainly the sensitivity of advising in the centre of differing political interests where an opinion, when given, was sometimes looked at with partisan lenses by the two main political sides. It pays to consistently stick to the law and demonstrate fairness since one’s view will not always favour one side; it should be objective and balanced.
Perhaps of continuing interest is the unfortunate view held that the legal services in Parliament are a direct threat to the Constitutional Office of the Attorney- General. This causes unnecessary hostility in some instances. Such matters require tact and willingness to patiently discuss and point out the need to appreciate the legal services in Parliament in the right context.
The main business that requires immediate attention is the pending recruitment of staff to fill the existing vacancies in the two departments that form the Office of the General Counsel. This will enhance the service that the lawyers render to the institution of Parliament, especially, in ensuring that committees of Parliament are served effectively.
Professionalism with courtesy and respect have served me well. Being honest in advice even where it seems clear that the advice rendered may not be palatable to the recipient. One must always be honest and firm with legal advice. This is only possible in an atmosphere that is transparent, honest with clarity and where one’s humble input is taken as important, necessary and as treasured. Thankfully, the Parliament of Uganda created that atmosphere for me for which I am truly grateful as it enabled me to flourish.
I have learned the importance of valuing everyone’s input irrespective of his or her hierarchical position in the institution. The Parliamentary Service should be appreciated as one complete unit rather than a body of fragmented, isolated and sometimes contending parties. These lessons have served me well.
As I transfer my services from the Parliamentary Service, I am proud to be among the people who have diligently served this prestigious institution for the last 14 years consecutively from June 2008 to February 2022. Not claiming to have been a bed of roses and setbacks notwithstanding, the Grace of God has enabled me to faithfully run my race in the Service.
I am eternally grateful to the Parliamentary Commission for the opportunity availed to me to serve this great institution as the Director, Legal and Legislative Services on my first appointment in 2008 and then for elevating me to the position of General Counsel to Parliament.
I also thank all the honourable Members of Parliament with whom I have worked closely; those who sought my guidance at a personal and professional level to handle legislative and litigation issues for the betterment of our country. I thank you so much for the trust embedded in me.
I have been privileged to serve with different generations of leaders that have not only supported me but also supervised me with a parental hand: The Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah; Rt. Hon. Anitah Annet Among; H.E Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi; Rt. Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga; Hon. Adolf Mwesige Kasaija; Mrs Jane L. Kibirige; Mr Aeneas Tandekwire; Mr Kaija-Kwamya and Mr Paul Gamusi Wabwire. Forbid it that I should forget the kindness, the support and the guidance that I have unreservedly received from each of my supervisors.
I appreciate comrades in the Top Management Team and all colleagues in the Parliamentary Service for the respect, support, collegiality and guidance that enabled me to carry out my duties successfully.
My colleagues in the Office of General Counsel with whom I have worked closely and journeyed all these years take the credit for all the mentioned achievements and more that the office has made. You did not withhold your expertise, your efforts, your ideas and your resources from me; you embraced teamwork; exhibited a spirit of togetherness and collectively we grew from a department to the Office of the General Counsel. In each of you, I have enjoyed professionalism, dedication and reliability – working with you forms the greatest of memories in my tenure as your leader and friend. As I sign out, I have no doubt that what we started, you shall uphold, and together you shall achieve what remains pending.
I sincerely appreciate the entire Parliamentary Service fraternity for the professionalism, guidance, respect accorded to me; your company that made my work a place to enjoy. Thank you for the best wishes and warmth that I have received from many of you since the news of my new appointment was released.
I am grateful for the opportunity accorded to me to serve the Legislating Arm of Government; May we all continue to serve this nation with vigour, diligence, dedication and honesty.
Finally, I am grateful to His Excellency the President of the Republic of Uganda and indeed the Public Service Commission for finding me worthy to continue serving this great country in the new office. I will serve diligently and with commitment.
May God bless you all. Adieu!