From John Griffin to Jacob Oulanyah, here is a list of the Speakers of Parliament since 1962

From John Bowes Griffin to Jacob Oulanyah, here is a list of the Speakers who have steered the 11 Parliaments the country has had since 1962.

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President Yoweri Museveni (L) and Jacob Oulanyah shortly after the latter had been voted for the Speaker of Parliament in May 2021 at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds. ©️ PPU.

Uganda is mourning the demise of Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah which was confirmed by President Yoweri Museveni on March 20,2020. He died in Seattle, USA where he had been rushed after suddenly falling sick.

However, as the family and country at large continue to mourn his death, the scramble for Oulanyah’s speakership role has reached greater heights. And by the end of Friday, all indicators are, Uganda will have a new speaker.

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Will it be the current Deputy Speaker Anita Among? Or, will former speaker Rebecca Kadaga who lost to Jacob Oulanyah in 2021 bounce back?

But before getting the answers, why not remind ourselves about the past speakers for the August House since Independence?

After being declared politically In­de­pen­dent on October 9,1962, the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil (LEGCO) was re­placed by the Na­tional As­sem­bly, which was the Par­lia­ment of the republic of Uganda. 

The First Par­lia­ment of Uganda held its maiden session on Wednes­day 10th Oc­to­ber 1962, a day af­ter in­de­pen­dence. Un­der the In­de­pen­dence Con­sti­tu­tion of 1962, the First Par­lia­ment of Uganda was partly elected and partly nom­i­nated. The Buganda representatives were to continue to be indirectly elected by the Luki­iko.

From John Bowes Griffin to Jacob Oulanyah, here is a list of the Speakers who have steered the 11 Parliaments the country has had since 1962.

  1. John Bowes Griffin (1st Parliament (National Assembly) 1962-May 1963)

Before be­com­ing Ugan­da’s first Speaker of Par­lia­ment, Sir Grif­fin had served as Chief Jus­tice of Uganda from 1952-1958. 

His ability to lead the first House was unquestionable having held sev­eral po­si­tions in dif­fer­ent colonies in­clud­ing be­ing the At­tor­ney Gen­eral in the Ba­hamas in the mid-1930s and act­ing as Gov­er­nor and Chief Jus­tice for var­i­ous pe­ri­ods.
His Parliament had 92 members. Griffin died on February 2, 1992.

2. Narendra M. Patel

Naren­dra M. Pa­tel became the first Non-Eu­ro­pean Speaker of Par­lia­ment of Uganda when he replaced John Griffin in May 1963.

His tenure would however end unceremoniously in1966, when Prime Minister Milton Obote abrogated the constitution and declared himself President of Uganda.

3.Narendra M. Patel (2nd Parliament (National Assembly) 1967-January 1971)

Still, Patel bounced back as the head of the House in the second parliament. In his term, Parliament witnessed the brutality of President Milton Obote when he abolished all of Uganda’s traditional kingdoms and the declaration of Uganda as a republic. 

It’s also the time when Pres­i­dent Obote over­threw the In­de­pen­dence Con­sti­tu­tion and sub­sti­tuted it with the pi­geon–hole Con­sti­tu­tion af­ter falling out with the Buganda King­dom. Patel’s speak­er­ship came to an end in 1971 when General Idi Amin took over power, and declared himself the Alpha and Omega in as far as making laws was concerned. Thus, the parliament was rendered useless.

Following the dissolution of Parliament, it’s said Patel remained in the country doing his private law practice. However when Amin passed the decree ordering all Ugandans of Asian origin to leave the country in 1973, he left for India, and later travelled to Darwin, Australia, where he went on with his legal practice.

4. Professor Edward Rugumayo (3rd Parliament this was National Consultative Council from 1979 -1980)

Prof. Edward Rugumayo. Courtesy.

When Idi Amin’s government was toppled in April 1979, a new legislative body known as the Uganda Legislative Council was established and dur­ing the 1979 Moshi Con­fer­ence in Tan­za­nia Professor Edward Rugumayo was nom­i­nated to chair the Na­tional Con­sul­ta­tive Coun­cil (NCC) which was the in­terim Par­lia­ment of Uganda Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Front. With an initial membership of 30, the membership was later increased to 120.

This legislative body continued to function until the general elections of December 1980.
According to records,Prof Rugumayo was not an ac­tive politi­cian and he’s said to have never cam­paigned for any political office. He was a lec­turer at Mak­erere Uni­ver­sity be­fore he was ap­pointed min­is­ter in Idi Am­in’s gov­ern­ment.

5. Francis K. Butagira 4th Parliament (National Assembly) 1980 – 1985

Mr Butagira took over from Prof Rugumayo in 1980 and served as the Speaker of the 4th Par­lia­ment. This period marked the return to power of Milton Obote and the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), following the disputed national elections of 1980. 

Butagira would however lose his role when Gen. Bazil­lio Okello over­threw the UPC regime on 27 July 1985 by a military coup.
He later though returned to the Parliamentary chambers but this time as an ordinary from 1989 to 1996. 

Francis Butagira was later appointed as an am­bas­sador to Ger­many, a po­si­tion he held un­til re­cently when he was re­lieved of his du­ties. 

He also be­came the Per­ma­nent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the United Na­tions in July 2003.

6.Yoweri Kaguta Museveni 5th Parliament (National Resistance Council) 1986–1996
The fifth Parliament Known as the National Resistance Council (NRC), was established following the end of the Ugandan 1981-1985 guerrilla war. 

Starting with 38 historical members of the National Resistance Movement and National Resistance Army, the legislative body was gradually expanded to include representatives from around the country. 

The speaker during the Fifth Parliament was Yoweri Museveni, who also doubled as the President of Uganda. In 1993, the NRC passed the Con­stituent As­sem­bly Statute that es­tab­lished and pro­vided for the elec­tion of the Con­stituent As­sembly Del­e­gates that worked on the for­mu­la­tion of the new con­sti­tu­tion.

6th Parliament (Parliament of Uganda) 1996 – 2001. The sixth Parliament had two speakers, the first was,

  1. James Wapakhabulo (1996 – 1998)
The late James Wapakhabulo.

Wapakhabulo was the first elected Speaker of Par­lia­ment af­ter the pro­mul­ga­tion of the 1995 Con­sti­tu­tion of the Re­pub­lic of Uganda. 

In 1998 he was appointed as the National Political Commissar in the no-party political system until 2001 when he became Second Deputy Prime Minister He is always remembered for strongly op­posing the lift­ing of term lim­its in 2005. 

He is also termed as the best Speaker Uganda has ever had. He was a recipient of Nalubaale Medal for civilian activists that had assisted during the guerrilla war. 

Upon his death, the by then Vice President Gilbert Bukenya proposed that Parliament Avenue in Kampala be renamed Wapa Avenue in honour of Wapakhabulo. He died at his home in Bugolobi in Kampala on 27 March 2004 and was laid to rest at Mafudu Village, Sironko District.

8.Francis Ayume (1998 – 2001)

Ayume joined elective politics in the 1990s as elected to Member of parliament representing Koboko District. 

In 1998 as Speaker of the House until 2001 when he was appointed Attorney General and represented Uganda in the International Court of Justice in a case where Uganda was accused of invading DR Congo and allegedly plundering its natural resources”

Unfortunately on Sunday 16 May 2004, Ayume was involved in a fatal automobile accident at Nakasongola on the Kampala-Gulu Highway and died.

9. Edward Ssekandi (2001–2011)

Hon Edward Ssekandi pictured on March 22,2022 as he signed in the condolence book shortly after paying his respects to fallen colleague Jacob Oulanyah. ©️ Parliament of Uganda.

Ssekandi be­came Speaker in 2001 and led both the 7th and 8th Par­lia­ments. He joined ac­tive par­lia­men­tary pol­i­tics in 1993 when he was ap­pointed as a mem­ber to the Con­stituent As­sem­bly whose work re­sulted into the 1995 Con­sti­tu­tion of the re­pub­lic of Uganda.

He was later elected MP for Bukoto County Cen­tral, Masaka, in 1996, a con­stituency he has rep­re­sents to date. He first served as Deputy Speaker un­der two Speakers that is the late James Wa­pakhab­ulo and Francis Ayume 1996 to 2001.

Ssekandi will be remembered of his negative rulings such as the decision to release Shs 150 billion for CHOGM, the removal of Henry Banyenzaki from the Standing Budget Committee that ‘raised serious issues about the security of tenure’, and the judgment on the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) saga, for which the opposition marched out of Parliament.

  1. Re­becca Al­it­wala Kadaga- (2011- 2021)
Former Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga. Courtesy photo.

Kadaga is the First Woman Speaker of the Re­pub­lic of Uganda, and Woman Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for the Ka­muli Dis­trict. She was Deputy Speaker from 2001, to 2011. 

She was the Speaker for the 9th Parliament (from 2011-2016), after the election in 2016 she was once again elected (2016-2021). She is now the deputy prime minister.

Kadaga holds Bach­e­lors of Laws, a Diploma in Wom­en’s Law and a Mas­ter of Arts De­gree in Wom­en’s Law. She served as the chair­per­son of the Uni­ver­sity Coun­cil for Mbarara Uni­ver­sity, be­tween 1993 and 1996.

11. Jacob Oulanyah

The late Speaker was elected to that position on May 24, 2021, after defeating the former Speaker Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga.

He had also served as Deputy Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, from May 2011 until May 2021.

Before he passed on, Jacob Oulanyah was a member of parliament representing the Omoro County Constituency, Omoro District, Acholi sub-region, as well as the Vice Chairperson of NRM in charge of Northern Region. 

Source: Wikipedia.

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