Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah was on Wednesday handed an unusual opportunity to chair a parliamentary sitting for the first time since 31st, January 2020.
The opportunity only availed itself thanks to Koboko Woman MP Margaret Babadiri who during Tuesday sitting asked Speaker Rebecca Kadaga why her deputy has not been chairing the House even at such a moment of grief when she (Kadaga) has lost her niece, Sheila Kadaga who died on Monday. In response, Kadaga replied, “You will see him.”
Indeed, during today’s sitting Oulanyah was handed his maiden role as a presiding officer for over a year following his deteriorating relationship with his boss, Kadaga. Even when he had not chaired the House for a year, Oulanyah did not fall short of his principles that have over time defined him.
At exactly 2.05pm, the ever punctual Oulanyah had called the House to order and he was ready to run parliament business regardless of the number of MPs available. Whereas Oulanyah appreciated Kadaga for giving him this chance to chair the House, he was not ready to conduct any business because his boss, Kadaga who handed him the opportunity was mourning the death of her niece whose burial took place on Wednesday.
“I was called yesterday after 4pm to come to the House to preside. I was asked and I said yes I would come because that is my duty as Deputy Speaker. However, I find myself between a hard place and a rock because of the circumstances under which I am here to chair the House. There is a bit of discomfort, I know opportunities come but some come with so many complications and this opportunity is one of those,” Oulanyah said as the MPs had their ears on the ground.
Oulanyah added that his emotional intelligence would be defeated if he fully seized the opportunity to chair the House yet under normal situations, he and other Members should be in Kamuli to commiserate with the Speaker.
“Even if this was the last opportunity for me to preside over the 10th Parliament, I would let it go because it’s not human to proceed while the Speaker mourns,” Oulanyah said, adding that he adjourned the House in 2019 when State minister for Water Ronald Kibuule lost his twins, to allow MPs attend the burial ceremony.
"From the moment I was asked to chair this house, I saw a lot of comments on social media, people were asking what I would say. I can only do what I have always done. We will not have this sitting in solidarity with the Speaker who has lost a dear one," he said.
The moving speech from Oulanyah received a thundering ovation from the MPs unfortunately he could not allow the Members to comment on his communication as he adjourned the House to tomorrow at 11am to allow MPs travel to attend the burial ceremony. Oulanyah’s emotional statement has drawn the battle lines for the Speakership race as he moves in to challenge Kadaga’s 3rd term bid.