Inside Jacob Oulanyah’s public apology after a rough Speakership race

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Speaker-elect Jacob Oulanyah made a public apology that seemed to have been directed to his former boss Rebecca Kadaga; Courtesy Photo

The process of electing the speaker and deputy speaker for Uganda’s 11th parliament is over. Rt Hon Jacob Oulanyah, the speaker elect, had time to make a public apology during the wee hours of the night after a long day and a rough contest that pitted him against his former boss Rebecca Kadaga.

Here is the apology (verbatim) which we think was directed to a diverse population of Ugandans including Hon Rebecca Kadaga, the members of the opposition (some who openly expressed dislike for him), and the general public.

“Like the president said, there were some issues beyond what should have been a normal contest. I pledge not to hold a grudge with anybody, any member of parliament. First of all. it’s not my nature. I don’t bear grudges. I will not victimize anybody for whatever happened in the course of these discussions and processes of coming with a speaker. I am not a vindictive person; that’s not my nature, it will never happen. If you feel that you went beyond the lines and you need us to have a discussion and apologize to each other, you are welcome to my office and we have a discussion, we laugh and start a new line. And to those who I have offended in one way or another, I apologies publicly and I ask for your forgiveness. I could have done it myself without anyone knowing or some of the people working with me could have done it in my name or on my behalf. I apologize for all those and ask for your forgiveness. I therefore ask you to approach the office of the speaker and that of the deputy speaker; even on issues you think we could talk more about, come and we talk. This country belongs to all of us; the people sent us here collectively to focus on two things; focus on defending national interests and perfecting service delivery.” Oulanyah said in his closing remarks during the plenary sitting at Kololo Independence grounds on Monday.

The vote leaves Hon Kadaga who represents Kamuli District and has presided over the house for a decade, as a mere back bencher.

Earlier, Hon Kadaga asked to be allowed to make a short address to parliament but her plea was declined as the process to elect the new speaker was still ongoing. However, it is reported that she met with Oulanyah and congratulated him upon being elected speaker.

In his maiden speech, Oulanyah stated that during his tenure as speaker, tolerance will be guaranteed, prejudices will be abandoned, national interests will be prioritized and convictions will be intrenched.

He listed five principles that will guide the actions of the 11th parliament including using reason and logic, fostering harmony, embracing mutual respect and tolerance, using facts as reference points during execution of work, and putting national interests above party or self interests.

Oulanya said parliamentarians are part and parcel of the country’s vision to achieve social economic transformation and members of the 11th parliament should do their best to deserve the respect the voters gave them to become (their) representatives.

Oulanyah thanked the MPs, the Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny Dollo and president Yoweri Museveni saying the event was symbolic of the independence of the three arms of government which must work together as laid out in the constitution of the republic.

He quoted a Chapter in the Bible -Isiah 33:32; “For the Lord is your judge. For the Lord is your law-giver. For the Lord is your King. He will save us.” Oulanyah pledged to chair a parliament that will oblige to proposals from the Executive that are pro-people and to object those that are not.

President Museveni, who was part of the proceedings also used the opportunity to pour scorn on NRM members who deviated from the official party position and lost. “So this morning I had to help some people who were weeping; but fortunately I had my tissue and lent it to some of them” He said but emphasized that Oulanyah’s victory was majorly NRM’s victory.

He however urged politicians to shun the politics of exclusion and egocentrism which he blamed for disunity in the country. Museveni said he never took sides in the race before the official party position is sought because he knew it would further sow disunity in NRM and probably make them fail.

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