By Max Patrick Ocaido
PARLIAMENT. Betty Aol Ochan has made a moving speech on her first day as Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Parliament, urging fellow opposition MPs to respect each other, embrace change and dialogue.
Aol, also Gulu Woman MP was last week named new LoP in a major FDC reshuffle making her the second woman to serve in the top opposition slot after her predecessor Winfred Kiiza (Kasese Woman MP).
During Wednesday plenary, Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah who presided over the House recognized and congratulated Aol and others upon their new appointments having admitted receiving a letter from FDC Secretary General, Nandala Mafabi dated 6 August, informing the office of the speaker about the new changes.
In her first speech as LoP, Aol took to the floor of Parliament and first of all thanked God for granting her the opportunity to serve as leader of opposition and further thanked the FDC President Patrick Amuriat for entrusting her to lead the opposition.
“I accept this position and say one Uganda, one people. I commend all leaders of opposition who have come before me for the courageous services in leading watch of government. I commend my predecessor [Winfred Kiiza] for demonstrating the sign of valor even during the tough times here,” Aol said.
She called for unity and dialogue from fellow opposition MPs including independent but opposition leaning MPs if they are to build a formidable force.
“This office remains one of the few lines of defense for the people. This office defends all opposition in Parliament. Opposition is numerically small and whereas divergent views are healthy, we need to be unified; we need to dialogue and chat a way forward for the betterment of opposition and the people. To effectively work together, we need to respect each other. Every one of us is gifted differently to better opposition. Let us give opportunity to each other, listen to each other and share resources,” Aol said in a message that is seemingly targeting Kiiza and her team who are reportedly plotting to form a new political party parallel to Amuriat’s FDC.
She adds, “To my colleagues in opposition, integrity, honesty, unity and hard work is what I emphasize. We can constructively disagree to agree, for together we can move further. I will work with you and accept the same.”
Aol added that she has received overwhelming congratulatory messages from all corners of the country including NRM ruling party among other parties.
It is to no surprise that Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa equally congratulated her and the new team for taking up new positions.
“On behalf of government, NRM colleagues and office of government chief whip, I congratulate our dear sister Betty [Aol] for the services that God has called you to perform,” Nankabirwa said.
In her statement, Kiiza congratulated her successor and expressed disappointment with media reports that she has declined to step down as LoP.
“I'm ready to work with Betty and see a better tomorrow for the opposition. I will officially hand over to my sister and all matters that regard the business of the office of leader of opposition. I also thank Gen Mugisha Muntu for the chance to appoint me and in good faith, thank the leadership of Patrick Amuriat Oboi for appointing Betty,” Kiiza said.