It is a somber mood in Uganda following the confirmation of the death of Speaker of parliament, Jacob Oulanyah.
The Honourable speaker’s demise was confirmed in a tweet by President Museveni, days after rumors of his demise were rebuffed by the Deputy Speaker, Anita Among.
“Countrymen and countrywomen. It is with a lot of sadness that I announce the death of the Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah, the speaker of parliament,” Museveni tweeted Sunday march 20, 2022 at 1:07pm.
He added: “I got information of this sad news at 10:30am, East African time from people that have been with him and the doctor that was caring for him in the intensive care unit.”
Oulanyah’s death comes as a big blow to the country, especially as it comes at a time when the entire country had united in prayer for his recovery.
The prayers, however, came about a month since Ugandans living in the diaspora staged protests against his being flown abroad for treatment which was said to have attracted expenses in excess of Shs1.7bn.
At the time of the president’s announcement, the country has been on tension over the speaker’s sickness, with the government threatening to track down and imprison all those that had announced Oulanyah dead. The threat followed the contradicting information by DP President Norbert and DS Anita Among — two of the about five people who flew to the late speaker’s deathbed last Tuesday.
In his tweet, Mao revealed that the speaker was indeed terminally ill and needed prayers for a miraculous healing, while Among later assured the country that Oulanyah was improving and actually responding to treatment.
The contradictions, however, drew mixed reactions, with doubters tasking the traveling entourage to post pictures with the patient to erase doubt among Ugandans.
With a career nipped in the bud, Oulanyah now goes in the history books as the shortest serving Speaker of Uganda’s august house. Having been elected speaker of Parliament on May 24, 2021, Oulanyah’s tenure has lasted just about ten months.
However, his sympathisers will be even more saddened to learn that he only chaired the house for exactly six months, with his last sitting happening on November 24, 2021.
By that time, reports of his ill-health were rife, only for him to get indisposed after that last sitting. His health deteriorated at the beginning of 2022 and by February 3, 2022 it was apparent that he needed specialized treatment abroad. Reports show that after being out of the public for three days, Oulanyah was found in a vegetative state in his house, upon which the president chartered for him a Uganda airlines plane on Flight UR2, 5x-NIL to fly him to Seattle, USA for the required treatment.
Reports show that he has been battling terminal abdominal cancer.
Jacob L’Okori Oulanyah was a Ugandan agricultural economist, lawyer and politician, who served as the Speaker of the 11th Parliament of Uganda. He was elected to that position on 24 May 2021, after defeating the former Speaker Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga. He served as Deputy Speaker of the Ugandan parliament, from May 2011 until May 2021.Oulanyah was also the Member of Parliament representing the Omoro County constituency, Omoro District, Acholi sub-region, in Uganda’s Northern Region.
He was born in the then Gulu District, on 23 March 1965 to Nathan L’okori and Karen Atwon. He attended St. Joseph’s College Layibi, Dr. Obote College Boroboro, and Kololo Senior Secondary School for his O-Level and A-Level education. In 1988, he joined Makerere University, the oldest university in the East African Community, where he studied agricultural economics. He graduated in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts in that subject. That same year, he entered law school, also at Makerere University, graduating in 1994 with a Bachelor of Laws degree. He served as speaker of the university students’ guild during his stay at Makerere. In 1995, he attended the Law Development Centre (LDC), where he obtained a postgraduate diploma in legal practice.
Following his graduation from the LDC, Oulanyah worked as a lecturer at the centre. During the same timeframe, he began private law practice at the law firm of Oulanyah, Onoria & Company Advocates. In 2001, he entered politics by successfully contesting for the parliamentary seat of Omoro County, in the then Gulu District under the no-party system also known as the Movement Political System. He was however a flag bearer of the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC). He also participated in the peace talks between the government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels. In 2006, standing as a UPC candidate, he lost his re-election bid. In July 2006, he quit the UPC and joined the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM). In 2008, he served as the chairman of the commission of inquiry into the controversial sub-lease of Kisekka Market, one of the municipal markets in the city of Kampala. In March 2011, Oulanyah was elected to represent Omoro County then in Gulu District, in the Ninth Parliament, this time on the NRM ticket. He was elected as Deputy Speaker of Parliament on 19 May 2011. Following the February 2016 general election, Oulanyah was re-elected as Deputy Speaker of Parliament on 19 May 2016. In the vote, conducted by secret ballot, he received 300 votes, while Muhammad Nsereko received 115. On 13 July 2019, Oulanyah was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Divinity by Zoe Life Theological College USA and acquired the title, Doctor enabling him be called Rt. Hon. Dr. Jacob L. Oulanyah.
On 24th May 2021, Jacob Oulanyah was voted Speaker of Parliament in a race against his former boss, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga and Kira Municipality MP, Ibrahim Ssemujju. Jacob obtained 310 votes against Kadaga’s 197 and Ssemujju’s 15.