24 February 2024


North's First

Oulanyah’s rise, fall, and succession should offer lessons to all Ugandans

My soul bleeds for the Bensyland and we must pick a lesson from Oulanyah's adventures in life.

Jacob Oulanyah (RIP) succeeded Rebecca Kadaga (the current Minister of EAC Affairs. Courtesy/File photo.

Last Updated on: 24th March 2022, 08:44 pm

Lango has a saying “nyuka ka oton icip pe nangere”. Oulanyah is now dead and life must continue as we celebrate and remember his life.

By Ishaa Otto Amiza

Oyam – March 24, 2022: When I heard of the death of Jacob Oulanyah, my heart bled but quickly I thought of thanking my brothers and sisters from Acholi for raising and empowering Jacob Oulanyah with love and solidarity until his demise as Speaker of Parliament of Uganda. 


In the same vein I extended my heartfelt condolences to Mzee Okori Nacan and family, the great people of Omoro County, Kaka Acholi, and indeed the Parliament of Uganda.


Nonetheless, Lango has a saying “nyuka ka oton icip pe nangere”. Oulanyah is now dead and life must continue as we celebrate and remember his life. 


You may recall that leading to the elections of Jacob Oulanyah to Speakership, there was a bitter fight for the position of Speaker of Parliament that presented one of the most hotly contested elections in the modern political history of Uganda. 


However, what saved the face of Uganda from bitter disintegration was the master control Museveni continues to enjoy within his NRA/ M group, as clearly none of the two candidates was willing to surrender fate to one another. 


Besides Museveni’s supremacy over NRA/M, he was forced to openly abandon Kadaga and join, fully to campaign for Oulanyah using money and physical mobilization of Members of Parliament to secure a victory for Jacob. Oulanyah then emerged victorious with 390 votes against 190 for Kadaga but clearly, the battle became “a Museveni-Kadaga fight”.


As soon as Oulanyah took up the job, things seemed not very well for him, he felt sick and never had time to preside over Parliament as was expected until he finally met his death in Seattle, the US. 


Along the way, even as he was being flown to the US for treatment, there were mixed reactions and yet both reactions seem good lessons to those in political office today. I hope some lessons were learned! 


What became so interesting, though is that, besides the vague ambiguity of Article 82 of the Constitution that seems to render the position of the Deputy Speaker less important in the event of a vacancy in the position of the Speaker.


The speed with which NRA/M Members of Parliament, and more so Ministers rushed to express their interests to replace Oulanyah (whom they all pretentiously admired) is something very strange and indeed shocked many, including myself.  


By end of Tuesday, March 22, 12 NRM legislatures and mostly Ministers had ignored and abandoned their positions and opted to vie for Speakership. The speed with which these Ministers ran to express interests in this position brought a lot of concerns to my mind. 


In Lango alone, out of four Ministers, two were out to step down to stand for Speakership alongside their other former Minister. In the North alone, six (6) candidates from NRA/M expressed interest to succeed their brother Oulanyah and none is bothered about the signal it sends out to the wider nation at a time when we are still in bereavement. 


Of course in Lango culture, it would express something different but in Uganda’s politics, it’s normal. This was silly and unusual! Too kara rac! [Death is too bad!].


 If in all sense of things President Museveni was not the factor in the madness, then NRM CEC would clear all of them to stand and throw all of them in the NRM primaries and they are all dropped from the cabinet. But as usual, this may be Museveni’s strategy of “divide and rule” through confusion, which indeed the North may cry foul out of it.


In a nutshell, what the Ministers have done is a vote of no confidence in the Appointing Authority by expressing that, they either don’t appreciate serving as Ministers, or they despise the Appointing Authority. No wonder their performance notwithstanding! Nonetheless, that is the tall order!


While I read the Acholi Parliamentary Group in collaboration with Lango and West Nile Parliamentary Groups sounding their solidarity towards retaining the seat of Speakership, am yet keen to follow how the three groups retain that seat with the aid of President Museveni in reward to the overwhelming support President Museveni and NRA/M attained in the last general elections! 


However, whether the successor to Oulanyah comes from the north or elsewhere the race to succeed Oulanyah brings good and bad lessons for Ugandans to learn from, and clearly, it explains a very dangerous level of greed and madness in our politics of which Mr. Museveni is solely responsible. 


In this race for Speakership, I was forced to go against my wishes to even think that, “If it were possible, President Museveni would have just appointed the First Lady Hon. Janet Kataha Museveni to succeed Jacob Oulanyah, to stop the madness that we are yet to experience after this episode. 


It’s now evident that the NRA/ M government can only be stable with Museveni and Museveni.


I may be wrong but my conscience is alive. Ugandans are all to blame for allowing Museveni to personalize and claiming absolute dominance over our political and military might to the extent that nothing sensible can be achieved through noble and genuine means.


 I am increasingly concerned about the fate and future of this Country if, by any means, President Museveni leaves the Presidency!


The question I ask myself is, “Are we going to see another Zaire, Libya, Sudan, Somalia or we shall re-collect and settle finally for sanity?”


My soul bleeds for the Bensyland and we must pick a lesson from Oulanyah’s adventures in life.


May the good Lord Rest Oulanyah’s soul in Eternal Peace! Amen.

For God and My Country


The author is a former MP, Oyam County South.

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