Parliament- MPs across the political divide yesterday praised the late West Budama North MP William Oketcho, many describing him as a man of integrity who never compromised on his principles.
In a two and a half hour tribute, some MPs called on government to improve on the health sector to enable it handle complicated diseases before Ugandans are flown out for further treatment in outside countries.
“We might be having these big positions and all the money but time comes when you cannot be flown out of the country to seek expert treatment and all the money we have will not be of any use. Government should improve the health sector to enable people and all of us to be treated here,” Tororo Municipality MP Sanjay Tanna said.
Moving the motion for the tribute, government chief whip, Justine Lumumba, described Mr Oketcho as a “very good” chairman of the Parliament committee on budget “who would smoothen the budgeting process and the House would always move on very well.”
Ms Lumumba also reminded the House that the late legislator was one of the best performing MPs in the 8th Parliament having been given 97 per cent and 95 per cent in committee and plenary performance, respectively, by the Parliamentary Scorecard.
Parliamentary Scorecard was an independent research that used to track and rate MPs’ performance.
It was thrown out at the end of the 8th Parliament due to protests by MPs who complained of bias by the researchers.
Mr Oketcho died of kidney failure on Friday evening at National Referral Hospital, Mulago.
He represented West Budama North in the 8th Parliament and chaired the Budget Committee then.
The current West Budama North MP Fox Odoi, described Mr Oketcho as an honest legislator who loved his family.
“The people of West Budama North remember him as a man who loved his parents, his wife and children. They remember him as a person who supported the development of education and he was a pioneer investor,” he said.
Disaster Preparedness minister Hilary Onek, who studied with the late at St Mary’s College, Kisubi described him as a professional man.
“He always spoke from a position of knowledge,” he said. “He was firm in his beliefs and normally people like those fall victim when they are in situations where they are forced to compromise on their values.”
West Budama South MP, Oboth Oboth, described the late as a legislator who was above petty politics, saying that whoever punished him in politics was wrong.
“No one can say that Oketcho belonged to any pseudo political cliques,” he said. “He was a gentleman who always pushed for the truth and he never compromised on that.”
After leaving Parliament, Oketcho was appointed chairman of the board of National Water and Sewerage Cooperation, but was controversially suspended by line minister Ephraim Kamuntu over differences of opinion on the recruitment of a new managing director for the water body.
The opposition chief whip, Cecilia Ogwal, and a line of other MPs condemned the suspension and asked government to consider clearing the late MP’s name so that “he rests in peace.”
He will be buried on Friday at his ancestral home in Paya, Tororo District.
He is survived by a wife Hellen Oketcho and six children.
He was born in 1949. He obtained his Junior Leaving Certificate in 1964. He joined Bukedi College, Kachonga where he did his East African Certificate of Education in 1968.
He went to St Mary’s College Kisubi for A-Level. He joined Makerere University in 1971 to pursue a Bachelor of Commerce degree and graduated in 1974.
Makerere University employed him as a teaching assistant, and he moonlighted with the defunct Lint Marketing Board.
Oketcho later joined Nairobi University for a Masters Degree in Business Administration which he completed in 1977.
He survived Uganda Airline crash in Italy in 1987.
After leaving Parliament, Oketcho was appointed chairman board of National Water and Sewerage Cooperation, but was controversially suspended by line minister Ephraim Kamuntu over differences of opinion on the recruitment of a new MD for the Water body.