Kampala, Uganda | URN | Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah declined to proceed with Wednesday 3rd Parliament sitting, even though this was the first time in over a year that he was chairing the house.
Oulanyah said he could not continue with Parliamentary business when his superior, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga is mourning.
Through his official Twitter handle, Oulannyah had communicated on Tuesday 2, March 2021 evening that he would be chairing the House on Wednesday 3rd and that the plenary would start at exactly 2 p.m.
In the same tweet, he shared the day’s Order Paper. But this came moments after Koboko Woman MP, Margaret Babadiri questioned the whereabouts of the Deputy Speaker at a time when Kadaga is mourning her niece, who died on Monday 1, March 2021.
Oulanyah has not chaired any parliamentary session for over a year now. The Deputy Speaker and Kadaga, who is preparing for a contest for the Speaker’s job when the position falls vacant in May this year, have been conflicting over chairing the house since the 2016 speaker’s race, in which Oulanyah had sought to unseat Kadaga.
On Wednesday Oulanyah, walked into the Chamber at 2:07 pm and after the Parliament’s prayer by the Clerk, went ahead to make his communication to the House noting that he had even forgotten how the Chamber looks like.
“I was called yesterday after 4 pm by my Principal Private Secretary that I needed to come to the House to preside and I said, yes I will come as Deputy Speaker in the absence of the Speaker, I preside,” he reported.
But he added that the reason for his coming put him between a rock and a hard place because it was based on an emotionally difficult situation.
He shared a Bible verse in Ecclesiastes 3:13 that highlight different seasons in human life. “As you are aware, I haven’t been in this house for a bit of time and I come now at the time like this. I am a human being and one of the things I still have is something we call emotional intelligence.
Your pain is my pain, your joy is joy, the glory is yours, this is the term of connection that binds us as human beings and if we apply them, we celebrate in our lives,” said Oulanyah.
Oulanyah said that they would not be able to proceed with the sitting in solidarity with the Speaker who lost a dear one. He said that this is a moment for all of them as legislators to stand with the family during a burial at Kamuli.
Oulanyah who kept the sitting for only 40 minutes went about the items on the order paper by providing guidance on how these would be handled at a later stage. But he added that even if this was the last opportunity given to him to preside over the 10th Parliament, he is willing to let go because it is not human for him to proceed.
Erute South MP, Odur Jonathan took to the floor on behalf of the Leader of Opposition to welcome the Deputy Speaker back and thanked him for the wise guidance to the House.
Ruth Nankabirwa, the Government Chief Whip equally took to the floor saying that it was only proper that a voice comes from the government and the ruling National Resistance Movement –NRM parliamentary caucus to congratulate Oulanyah on his win in Omoro County parliamentary election and also delivering a victory to the party.
The Deputy Speaker adjourned the House to Thursday 11 a.m. to handle matters on the order paper so that members can today be allowed to travel for burial in Kamuli.