Road safety dominates MPs’ tributes to Okabe 

Speaker Anita Among and her deputy Thomas Tayebwa lay a wreath on the casket containing the remains of Serere County MP Patrick Okabe during a special sitting at Parliament December 22, 2022. PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • Mr Fox Odoi (West Budama North East): “Not many politicians are decent human beings, but Okabe was [such].” 
  • Anita Among, Speaker: “He was quiet and peaceful. He was not cantankerous like some people can be. He was a God-fearing person, we do not get many such legislators.  He never wanted conflict.”
  • Mathias Mpuuga, LoP: “He practiced politics of sanity, was a deep peacemaker and his impeccable character as a man of God will live to inspire others.” 

A t 12:12pm yesterday, the casket with the remains of Serere County MP Patrick Okabe was wheeled into the chambers of Parliament, where legislators paid tribute to a decent politician, with a call for decisive action to address road carnage.
The body had arrived at Parliament precincts at 10am, and was received by Speaker Anita Among, along with other legislators. 
Okabe, 64, died on Monday morning in a head-on-collision accident at Naboa on Mbale-Tirinyi road.

During the special sitting yesterday to pay tribute to a man of God-cum politician, MPs expressed concern at the big number of lives lost in road accidents, urging the responsible agencies to step up the implementation of preventive laws and regulations, among other interventions.  
“Fatal accidents are all over us and we need to take responsibility for what is happening. We have been singing about accidents and most of them are out of recklessness.  Accidents leave us with injuries, deaths, and trauma. We must think of a solution for what to do next. We lose more than 10 people on a daily basis. You need to give stringent regulations to all the road users, especially during this festive season,” Ms Among said.

The Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Mr Mathias Mpuuga, tasked Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja with the road Fund.
“The narrowness of our roads remains a sore. The PM should report on the action taken on the road Fund. Our roads are a death trap. They are narrow, yet the volume of traffic continues to grow as the roads continue to decay,” Mr Mpuuga said.

The Dean of Independents, Mr David Zijjan (Butembe County), urged the Ministry of Works to reinstate the enforcement of speed governors to curb speeding, one of the contributors to road carnage.
Other interventions raised by legislators include putting a cap on the time for the movement of trucks and buses as well as adopting dual carriage road designs with clear demarcations, among others. 
Okabe’s wife, Christine, with whom he was travelling died en route Mbale Regional Referral Hospital.

Deceased Serere County MP Patrick Okabe. Photo | Courtesy

“The wife would have survived, but we do not have paramedics in our ambulances to attend to the casualties. I appeal to the Ministry of Health, let us have paramedics in our ambulances,” Mr Christopher Komakech (Aruu County) said. 
“Around Christmas, there are many accidents, so we appeal to all Ugandans, let us drive responsibility.  Let us celebrate responsibility so we can enter the New Year alive,” Dr Chris Baryomunsi, the ICT minister, said. 

Decent politician
Legislators paid tribute to a humble, decent, and development-oriented man, who married Christianity with politics.
In the motion for the tribute, Ms Nabbanja described Okabe as a diligent leader who served his country with devotion and integrity and strongly advocated for women’s economic empowerment.

Vice President Jessica Alupo remembered the legislator as one who loved Teso, his culture and served without discrimination.  
Okabe, who was serving his second term in the House, was a member of the Appointments and Central Government committees and former Teso Parliamentary Group chairperson. He was also lauded for his commitment to health, development, and proper utilisation of government resources
“He reached out to all regardless of religion or political persuasion, lived a life of impact, and advocated for the right appropriation of government resources. His heart beat for a government that cares for the taxpayer,” Mr David Zijjan (Butembe County) said.

The State Minister for Teso Affairs, Mr Kenneth Ongalo-Obote (Kalaki County) said the deceased had started saccos for all the villages in his constituency, to which he donated Shs1m each. The late Okabe is also the founder of Faith FM, a Christian radio station in Mbale City, and Rhema High School in Soroti.
Ms Connie Galiwango (Mbale Woman) said the deceased was her mentor and had the heart to support the vulnerable and disadvantaged. 

Mr Elija Okupa (Kasilo County), a longtime friend of the deceased, called for investigations into the accident, citing the possibility of foul play. 
He tasked police to provide the details of the whereabouts of nearly Shs70m and other property the deceased had when the accident occurred.
“ I am told by the family that there was property in the car, including Shs70 million cash. Why are the police not telling us? We are also told the driver came to him. Was it foul play? Our brother died in an accident but there is something that is not coming out clearly,” Mr Okupa said.
Okabe will be buried on Christmas Eve in Oburin cell, Ochapa Town Council in Serere District. 
There will be prayers tonight in Mbale City before the body is taken to Serere for a special council sitting.