KAMPALA – The Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) party president, Jimmy Akena, has mourned the former Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah as an intellectual who provided guidance and advice whenever called upon to do so.
“In the passing on of Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah, the country has lost a mentor, adviser, sportsman and an intellectual who provided guidance and advice whenever called upon to do so,” Akena told reporters in Kampala.
Akena, also commiserated with Oulanyah’s family, Parliament of Uganda, Uganda Bikers’ Association where the former speaker was a member, the people of Acholi, the entire UPC fraternity and the people of Uganda.
“The Rt. Hon. [Jacob Oulanyah] was a man that brought people together, he was the unifying factor wherever he went,” Akena said, urging Ugandans to exhibit unity and mourn the Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanya with dignity and togetherness as a country.
Jacob Oulanyah 56, died on Sunday, March 20 at a Seattle Hospital in the United States of America where he was indisposed since February 4, 2021. He had only served as Speaker for nine months and 24 days since his election and swearing-in on May 24, 2021
His death had been rumoured before officials vehemently refuted the claim. He had been airlifted to the US for further treatment.
The agricultural economist who joined politics in 2001 had served under former Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga from May 2011.
The Omoro county legislator joined Parliament in 2001 as a Uganda People’s Congress ticket, at the time when party activities had been banned and political play was entirely under the National Resistance Movement (ruling party) system, introduced in 1986 when the current government under President Yoweri Museveni captured power. Under the system, political play was on individual merit not party aspirations.
Oulanyah, in his principle, had always yearned to have his children feel proud of using his name. So he said he would embark on doing good, winning fairly and eating only his share.
He came in as speaker with a lot of energy and determination, saying he wanted the next five years to be very different, to restore public confidence in the institution of Parliament and change the way things had previously been done. He vowed to restore cordiality between legislature and the presidency and to restore the integrity of Parliament. Under his predecessor Kadaga, whom he deputised, Parliament was accused of rubber stamping executive decisions including laws that were seen as atrocious to civil liberties.
Born on 23 March 1965 to
came from a family his friends and contemporaries describe as having a humble background. His father had a mud and wattle grass thatched house with mud floor, smeared with cow dung.
He attended St Joseph’s College Layibi, Dr Obote College Boroboro, and Kololo Senior Secondary School for his secondary education, joining Makerere University in 1988 to pursue agricultural economics. He graduated in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts in agricultural economics, but joined the law school at the same university in the same year, graduating in 1994 with a Bachelor of Laws degree.
At the university, he was speaker of the university students’ guild.
After obtaining his diploma in legal practice at the Law Development Centre, he started his law firm, Oulanyah, Onoria & Company Advocates, actively working there until he joined elective politics in 2001.
Joseph Kony rebels
At the time when the government asked the leaders from northern Uganda to help find a lasting solution in the war between government forces and the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels of Joseph Kony, which had lasted for more than a decade, claiming hundreds of thousands of lives and displacing millions of people, Oulanyah joined the team for peace talks.
Although the peace talks, involving former Mozambique president Joachim Chissano, later did not yield much, the talks marked the final departure and later defeat of the rebels, who were flushed out of Uganda, escaping to Central African Republic where some of them surrendered while others up today remain holed in the jungles.
With the political experience, Oulanyah gave the elections another shot in 2006, contesting to represent the same people of Omoro. This time, the country had embraced multiparty democratic dispensation and he contested on the UPC ticket. Despite the party’s popularity among the people of northern Uganda then, Oulanyah lost the elections.
A couple of months after the elections, he quit the UPC and joined the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), bagging the position of chairman of the commission of inquiry into the controversial sub-lease of Kisekka Market, one of the municipal markets in the city of Kampala, two years later.
In March 2011, Oulanyah was elected to represent Omoro County in Gulu District, in the Ninth Parliament, this time on the NRM ticket, after which he was elected Deputy Speaker of Parliament on 19 May 19, 2011.
He was re-elected to represent Omoro County in the 2016 general elections, and was again elected deputy speaker of the 10th Parliament, with 300 votes against his closest rival Mohammad Nsereko’s 115 votes.