Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah was on Sunday afternoon announced dead after an illness that kept him away from the public and parliament work.
He died from the US where he had been taken for treatment.
20th March, 2022
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.
— Yoweri K Museveni (@KagutaMuseveni) March 20, 2022
We look at some of his memorable quotes.
On May, 24, 2021, the Omoro County legislator Jacob LÓkori Oulanyah became Speaker of Parliament after beating his former boss Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga in a race that was labelled as a do or die.
Oulanyah had battled tooth and nail for the position, having attempted to disrupt the status quo five years earlier but was told to wait in the queue.
Patiently, he waited and time came in 2021 when he finally vacated office as Deputy Speaker in the glare of cameras.
In his address Oulanyah said: “I will not return to this office; I do not want to insist on it and sit here as if I am the deputy speaker. I am not coming back here”. This was five days before he became speaker.
Oulanyah had had great admiration for the office of speaker, and you could tell the passion with which he carried out his role as deputy.
Indeed, in his own words he said: “I have been able to do things that I love”.
True to his brand, one would not separate Oulanyah from flamboyance. He always sought for a distinction from the rest, choosing to be overly punctual, unlike his predecessors or even members of parliament.
In the show of flamboyance, Oulanyah on May 8 2020 arrived at Parliament riding on a motorbike.
Clad in a heavy jacket, helmet check, hand gloves check and biker boots check, Oulanyah cruised into parliament premises like he was in a movie scene.
Jumped off the bike with the satisfaction he had charmed the viewers, and swaggered his way to the waiting cameras and microphones, and he spoke: “I was sandwiched by two trucks in Wandegeya, I was in the middle of them, the bodies of the trucks almost touched my bike, just like that!” he narrated with actioned packed gestures.
He then said such a scenario was a lesson to advocate for road safety.
“If they could make the roads safer, a lot of people would use bikes even bicycles”.
The man had done his charm and actually left parliament paralyzed, that at one of the intervals, Chief whip Ruth Nankabirwa waved him down and acted like she needed lift.
There was better argument that Oulanyah had jumped on the bike to catch up with time, as many know him for being very time cautious.
In one of the interviews on September 15th 2019, when asked what makes him a better person at his job, Oulanyah quipped: “Time”
“When we do not keep time, we disrespect other people we have engaged with and make things overrun when they should not,” he said.
However, the way he managed to play around ticking all boxes of his job, and showing his class on one end remained an enigma to many yet at the same time made the charming Jacob he has always been.
Many might not have known which music sat deep for him, damn, you can take no guess on this, but Oulanyah used a few opportunities to express than no music was better than jazz music.
On one of the speeches abroad, Oulanyah amazed the audience when he said: “This assembly is like jazz music.”
They say jazz music is the closest beat to religion, and indeed Oulanyah never hid his love for God and religion. In many of his speeches, you could tell he picked from the bible and different religious literature.
On about five occasions, he would start his speech with the favorite quote.
“Today is the day that the Lord has chosen, and I will celebrate in it with all of you.”
His love for God was more likely the basis for his undying love for humanity, for preaching about ubuntu, forgiveness and unity.
At the International Young Leader’s Assembly in Washington DC on October 6th 2016, Oulanyah preached humanity.
“Our world is one, our problems are similar and the body of waters that separate us is not deeper than the blood that connects us as human beings, one people under God.”
Still following his return from his initial stint of sickness abroad, Oulanyah called for humanity from Ugandans.
“People hold prayers for sick people, others hold prayers for sick people to die in this country, really and you leave your home your wife cooks for you breakfast! And you are going for Oulanyah, he is oxygen, he is dying….Let us return to humanity, it helps.”
Still in line with humanity, as soon as Oulanyah entered office as Speaker, he opened the doors of his office to anyone without need for appointment.
On 25th May 2021, Oulanyah went on record saying: “No one needs an appointment to come to my office, just walk, knock the door and open and I will see you.”
Meanwhile on 22 August 2018 while visiting Bobi Wine following the Arua debacle in which the singer was ‘beaten properly’ and detained and Makindye Barracks, Oulanyah cut a sad figure and in his address said:
“This country is enough for all of us.”
He was a man of many faces and principles and ethics are some of the faces. To Oulanyah, something was either right or wrong, and he never wore spectacles to disguise the lenses.
He told Members of Parliament who had turned the house into a crying centre, asking for his whereabouts when he was sick that he was so disturbed when the same MPs never came out to ask where he was when he was barred from hosting plenary by his boss Rebecca Kadaga.
He then dismissed them as dealers in non-issues.
“Let us stick to standards and principles,” he said on July 29th 2021 in reply to MPs who had turned plenary into a medium to ask for his whereabouts.
For a man who had coveted to be speaker but was on occasions turned back to the queue and told to wait, there is simply one thing you can not take away from him- hope.
Oulanyah practiced hope as much as he preached about it. Many times, calling upon leaders to be the beam of hope for others.
“The world is in search of hope, we are that hope and must behave like we are it.We are the candle of hope as young leaders, we are the candle of hope as young leaders, let us pick what is left and light the world, give it hope. My story and your story is one of hope, God bless you,” he said in October 2016.
In his maiden sitting as speaker, on 24th August 2021, Oulanyah asked members of parliament to use their time in the House to grant hope to the children of Uganda.
“Many of you went to nursery school, we never did, school was so far, we needed to first mature. Children who find themselves in this situation should be our focus,” he said.
Alongside hope, Oulanyah preached the gospel of moral uprightness, he could not hide his hatred for pretence and his loathe for the corrupt.
“The corrupt are our grandparents, the society that we live in, we are all corrupt. Unless we take this from our own front lines it is a waste of time, it is a public show for nothing, deep down I know we are going back to practice the same corruption that we are fighting,” he said during the anti-corruption walk in 2019.
“We leave in a state of moral disengagement where we have justification for doing all wrong things yet we know better,” he said while speaking to youth in Washington.
It is hardly impossible to say Oulanyah had achieved his biggest fight when he ascended to the chair of the speaker, for a man his size, for a man of his background, he had been into all manner of sizeable battles, all kinds of struggles, and continued to even in the dying embers of his life here.
Oulanyah’s battles have been dignified, refusing to mudsling, or use any form of violence, they have been meticulously planned and coated with determination, just like he said: “An opportunity of a lifetime must be ceased with in the lifetime of that opportunity.”
Oulanyah loved himself a good day to speak and when he started speaking, he would be possessed by words and they would come down falling like thunder, he would go on and on, his only excuse being that it would be improper to put a time limit on important speeches.
“There is never enough time to discuss important matters. If I had known I was going to be timed by a clock, I would not have flown all the way to speak for 3 minutes. It does not make sense,” Oulanyah told a gathering in USA in 2016.
Those that are loved can be spoken of over and over, but generations must come and go, in his own words Oulanyah said we have only borrowed this world from the future generation which signified he was at peace with the fact that we are all here for a bit of time.
I will therefore borrow one of his quotes on May 19th 2021 when he told the media: “The time has come to an end.”