Just two days shy of his 57th birthday, Speaker of Parliament, Rt Hon. Jacob Oulanyah was announced dead by President Yoweri Museveni, sending the country into grief.
Oulanyah died at a hospital in Seattle in the United States of America, following an illness that kept him out of duty since the beginning of this year.
“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,” tweeted President Museveni, sending waves of shock across the country.
At Parliament, a grief-stricken Deputy Speaker, Anita Among led Commissioners and the institution in mourning her boss.
“Parliament will never be the same without you, I will dearly miss you, the light moments, the unique moments we jointly chaired the proceedings of the House – setting precedents that had never been and all that you were to me and the Parliament of Uganda,” she said.
She later addressed a teary news conference, in which she said burial arrangements will be communicated, and a liaison between Parliament and Office of the President established to coordinate the funeral.
The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Hon. Mathias Mpuuga commiserated with Oulanyah’s family and the NRM fraternity, for losing their Vice Chairperson (Northern Uganda), and a Member of its Central Executive Committee.
“It’s with great sadness that I received the news of the passing of the Speaker of Parliament, Rt Hon. Jacob Oulanyah; deepest condolences to his family, friends, the Parliamentary fraternity, the people of Omoro & the National Resistance Movement that he served as Vice Chairman for Northern Uganda,” said Mpuuga.
President Museveni sent another tweet condoling with the family of the fallen Speaker, instructing Presidency Minister, Hon. Mary Milly Babalanda to take charge of preparations on behalf of the presidency.
“I extend my condolences, the condolences of my family and of all Ugandans to the children of Oulanyah and to his wider family; the government and the NRM will always stand with them; I will say more about Rt Hon. Oulanyah in the coming days,” said Museveni.
The President also directed flags to fly at half-mast until the burial of the Speaker is concluded.
It will be a long, painful journey of escorting Oulanyah back to his ancestral roots in Omoro District, where he emerged from obscurity to break the ceilings and transcend the high seas and cross bridges to the very top echelon of society.
A free-spirited leader, Oulanyah created an environment of ease around himself, which enabled staff and Members to interact freely and easily around him, bringing out the best in themselves.
Like Secretary of War Edwin Stanton said of U.S President Abraham Lincoln, ‘he now belongs to the ages.’
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