President Yoweri Museveni has mourned former Speaker of Parliament Rt Hon. Jacob Oulanyah in Kololo, where he acknowledged his success in uniting Northern Uganda.
Museveni said despite dying young, Oulanyah made his mark in nation building.
“He was young, but he had already made impact; we in NRM first dealt with him when he was in the Legal Committee of Parliament; he was able to break away from the sectarian politics of the Opposition,” said Museveni.
“When he came [to the NRM], he made a very big contribution; losing Oulanyah now was a big loss; he was somebody who was coming up and the country was going to benefit a lot from him,” he added.
On the elusive quest for national unity, Museveni said Oulanyah fulfilled his part in uniting Northern Uganda, completing one of the puzzles the NRM had been seeking to solve.
“When Oulanyah became Vice Chairman of NRM, he seemed to have deepened this unity in the short time he was here; I salute Hon. Oulanyah and commend him as an example to you,” he said.
Museveni also urged leaders and all Ugandans to take care of their health before thinking of involvement in politics or other activities.
“Health is a weapon. If you are fighters for Africa, you must pay attention to health because you must use it to fight for Africa. That is why i discourage people from taking alcohol. It is not good for your health,” Museveni said.
The President added that if he had known that Oulanyah was unwell, he would have discouraged him from getting involved in the electioneering process.
“I came to know about the problem for the first time when he went to Dubai. He was involved in all the politics in Omoro, CEC, speaker and Vice chairman; If I had known, I would have told him to concentrate on his health,” Museveni added.
Speaker of Parliament, Rt Hon. Anita Among said there will be a review of the constitution to better deal with matters of succession in the speakership, in light of elections that had to happen even before the funeral of former Speaker Oulanyah.
Among said parliamentarians resolved to contribute Shs554 million to support the Jacob Oulanyah Education Fund which will ensure his children and others he was supporting complete their education. The Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Dr Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu said Oulanyah lived a religious and God-conscious life, and will be remembered for his contribution to church and country.
In his memory, the Archbishop said Ugandans should desist from corruption since he abhorred the vice.
“We should not be tempted to steal and build big houses because we shall leave it here; this man wanted people to be together so we should resist corruption; there is need for national dialogue,” he said.
He also urged Parliament to review the provisions that require the immediate election of Speaker in the event a vacancy arises.
“That section [article in the Constitution] should be revisited; I am also challenged to know that even when everybody loves you, when you go, somebody else will take over,” he said.
The former speaker’s son, Andrew Ojok, relayed the family’s gratitude to Parliament and all stakeholders who supported them upon their father’s demise.
Dr Jackson Orem, one of the late Oulanyah’s physicians who also heads the Uganda Cancer Institute, restated Oulanyah’s cause of death being lymphoma, a cancer, together with other contributory medical conditions.
President Museveni however, was unhappy with the revelation of the cause of death saying the medical report should have been shared with only the family. The Speaker of the Kenyan National Assembly, Rt Hon.Justin Muturi and his Tanzanian counterpart, Rt Hon. Dr Tulia Ackson attended the event.
Oulanyah’s body was later flown to Omoro, his final resting place, where he will be buried on Friday.
Oulanyah, 56, died last month in Seattle, the United States of America, where he was evacuated for treatment following his illness.