LoP: My tribute to the late Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah

Mathias Mpuuga: We have lost an encyclopedia of parliamentary procedures when many of our 1st time legislators of the 11th Parliament needed him most in the Speaker’s chair in order to master our legislative business.

Hon Mathias Mpuuga laying his wreath on the casket carrying the body of the late Jacob Oulanyah. COURTESY.

Parliament is convening today in a special sitting to honour the late Rt Hon Jacob Oulanyah who until his death was the Speaker of Parliament of Uganda. In following write up, Mathias Mpuuga who’s the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament pays tribute to the fallen giant.

Rt. Hon Speaker, I join the Rt. Hon Prime Minister and Honourable colleagues in paying tribute to the now late Rt. Hon. Jacob L’Okori Oulanyah, who until his death on 20th March, served as Speaker for the first nine months of the 11th Parliament.


I stand not just to second the motion but to join all of you Members of Parliament, to mourn the loss of a great leader, The Rt. Hon. Jacob L’Okori Oulanyah.

In my own individual capacity as Mathias Mpuuga and as Member of Parliament Nyendo-Mukungwe constituency, am truly
honored to pay tribute to my friend.

It has been a long painful 15 days for the family, friends, and the country since our leader took his last breath. Immediately upon receiving the news, I, like millions of Ugandans, was engulfed with a sense of sadness and loss. With a heavy heart, I took some time to reflect on what this loss meant for our Parliament and country at large. What a loss for this August House!

We have lost an encyclopedia of parliamentary procedures when many of our 1st time
legislators of the 11th Parliament needed him most in the Speaker’s chair in order to master our legislative business.

Over the past 15 days that our nation has been mourning, people have expressed their grief in various ways. What truly stands out, is the spectacular display of admiration by the thousands of Ugandans on Friday, 01st April 2022, and the many that have joined us here at Parliament as the body lies in state.

In times like these, we tend to ask ourselves: what is it about this man that elicits this outpouring of sincere emotions? We know that this was on account of the work Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah was able to accomplish and commitment to our nation.

Rt. Hon. Speaker, when people see goodness in a person, they respond by reflecting goodness back at that person. Put simply, Jacob was a good man and a good leader. I have learned that leadership is about falling in love with the
people and the people falling in love with you. It is about serving the people with selflessness, sacrifice, and wit the need to put the common good ahead of personal interests.

As the Opposition in Parliament, we had fallen in love with our leader, Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah, the Speaker, not the politician. I personally nicknamed him OJ while he
nicknamed me Masaka.

Today we pay tribute to a man whose extraordinary eloquence, clarity in speech and mastery of House Rules and Procedure made him a unique presiding officer of Parliamentary Sessions.

Our fallen Speaker created and maintained his own unique brand Oulanyah; i.e dressing style
that included a bow tie, being apologetic, humble, and truthful on the state of corruption in our country.

Most importantly, our fallen senior colleague distinguished himself as a master of balancing the interests of everybody.

At the launch of the Opposition Legislative Agenda in August 2021, he was excited to officiate at an opposition initiative; the 1st of its kind at which he committed 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 floor to use the Westminster model of meeting regularly to iron out differences on issues of divergence and only come to the floor to sort out matters where the 2 sides could not agree on.

As a Presiding Officer of this House, this great son of Uganda exhibited a level of fairness to all sides of this August House, despite the partisan pressure that is exalted on the Office of the Speaker.

In the spirit of fairness, he has left behind a matter he passionately intended to provide leadership over; Rule 25 (2) (l) that regards the processing of a Statement by a Shadow Cabinet Minister. In its current form, he had established that the Rule was impotent since it doesn’t guide how the House should proceed after presenting such a Statement. He referred the matter to the Rules, Privileges, and
Discipline Committee.

This is an outstanding area that we shall in the coming days be interesting the new Speaker and Deputy to inherit.

Rt. Hon. Speaker, before I take leave of this eulogy, may I take this opportunity to remind this August house that, three important things matter for reflection as we bid our brother
farewell, details of which I will give after the burial and mourning of our senior colleague.

i. As leaders, it is very dangerous and we should as much as possible refrain from generalizing all supporters of a political party as belonging to one ethnic group. I am aware that some individuals and groups may find it
convenient and an opportunity to negotiate or to cause a negotiation with the Government in power for greater portions of the national cake using their ethnic card. However, such political maneuvers should be conducted on their own merits not pull along all the bystanders in political deal-making.

ii. Let what made our late Speaker exemplary be an inspiration to all of us colleagues. The most important lesson he taught us is the commitment to duty. He committed himself to delivering on assignments given to him on time with the quality they deserved. We should all in our respective capacities, in memory of Rt. Hon. Jacob, Oulanyah commit to delivering quality outputs on time. That is the best we can give to Uganda and the memory of our leader.

iii. Dying far away from home without the opportunity to have some words with family is a painful experience. Our senior citizens continue to seek specialized medical
treatment abroad at astronomical costs because our health system has not received the special funding and policy options that it deserves.

As Parliament begins to process the budget for FY 2022/23, we await the commitment of the Executive to enhance the budget for healthcare in our country. We shall continue to ask questions about Lubowa Specialized Hospital where the taxpayer was mortgaged for approximately Shs. 1 trillion and there is nothing to show for it.

As I conclude, Rt. Hon. Speaker, I would like to note that I heard the President advising Parliament to amend Article 82 that provides for the office of the Speaker of Parliament. On
the contrary, the actual succession legal provisions that are lacking in our law books that require urgent legislation are related to the conduct of Government Business upon passing or loss of an election by the incumbent President of Uganda.

A presidential succession law with details of authority given to office-bearers is our urgent legislation which we intend as the Opposition in the 11th Parliament to initiate. This is intended to create certainty and close any ambiguity, especially upon the loss of an election.

May the soul of our giant, late Rt. Hon. Jacob L’Okori Oulanyah rest in eternal peace. Till we meet again OJ.