Jacob Oulanyah after taking oath as Speaker of Parliament in May last year. PHOTO/ COURTESY


The Speaker’s no-return journey to US hospital

What you need to know:

Since his election as the speaker, Oulanyah had been on and off duty

The nation was yesterday thrown into deep sorrow after the announcement of the death of Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah.

President Museveni announced Oulanyah’s passing on his Twitter handle, saying the Speaker of Parliament died in Seatle, USA, where he had been on treatment since February.

 “..I got information of this sad news at 10.30am, East African time from people that have been with him and the doctor that was caring for him in the intensive care unit,” Mr Museveni tweeted.

 The cause of his death has not been publicly stated.

 Ministry of Health officials were non-committal on the cause of his death.

Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the ministry spokesperson, referred this publication to the minister of Health and the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, whom he said are the most competent people to state the cause of Oulanyah’s death.

Both Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the minister of Health, and Ms Anita Among, the deputy speaker of Parliament, were not available by telephone by press time.

 Since his election as the Speaker, Oulanyah had been on and off most of the time, and all the parliamentary duties were handled by Ms Among. Oulanyah had been hospitalised since January 29.

 In a statement issued after Oulanyah’s death was confirmed, Ms Among said the Speaker had been a model who steered the activities of Parliament with distinction and selfless dedication.

“As a person and the Parliament family, we loved and cherished Jacob dearly, he stood tall as a gentle giant, a principled man, a man of his word and an accomplished lawyer and legislator,” she said.

 “His loud laughter’s, cheeky winks and sense of humor lit up our hearts even in the difficult times. During his tenure as both Speaker and Deputy Speaker, he taught us tolerance, honesty, adherence to the rules and all that it takes to be a good speaker,” Ms Among added.

 She said the entire team did everything humanly possible to ensure that Oulanyah got back to his feet but that did not happen.

When the deputy Speaker last Tuesday hurriedly adjourned the House session and immediately flew to USA, news of Oulanyah’s deteriorating health began filtering in.

A source with the inside knowledge told this publication that Oulanyah’s situation had worsened, forcing Ms Among together with Democratic Party president Norbert Mao, Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny Dollo, Health minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, and Oulanyah’s brother Francis Emuna to fly to the US.

Ms Among later issued a statement confirming their visit to Seattle and said the speaker was responding to treatment.

“…. I have visited Rt Hon Speaker Jacob Oulanyah at his hospital bed in Seattle. He is receiving and responding to treatment under the close attention of his doctors,” she said.

The details of his ailment that eventually took his life have been kept close to the chest.  For months, the Speaker had been battling sickness and on January 29, Ms Among paid a visit to her boss after several people tried to call him for three days without success.

It is said after the three days of unanswered calls from multiple people, including Ms Among, she decided to drive to Oulanyah’s home in Muyenga to check on him.

At that point, Ms Among reportedly  found that Oulanyah was struggling to speak and was visibly weak.  

In her communication to the House on February 8, Ms Among said Oulanyah had been sick for two weeks and had to seek further medical attention abroad.

“When he was taken to Mulago hospital, his personal doctors recommended that he is flown abroad for specialised treatment,” she said.

On February 5, Oulanyah was flown to US aboard a chartered Uganda Airlines plane for specialised treatment.

Leaders unite

In a rare show of unity, leaders across political divide united in wishing Oulanyah a quick recovery and yesterday, they also united in conveying their condolence messages.

 Mr Patrick Oboi Amuriat, the Forum for Democratic Change president,  said: “… I mourn with and convey my condolences to fellow Ugandans, his family and friends upon this sad occurrence. Go well comrade of many years,” Mr Amuriat tweeted.

Dr Kizza Besigye, the former FDC president, tweeted: “I send sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family of Hon Jacob Oulanyah. Please know that we shall keep you in our thoughts and prayers. ‘For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.’”

Key events in his life

Born in Omoro on March 23, 1965

Attended St Joseph’s College Layibi, Dr Obote College Boroboro for O-Level

Attended Kololo Senior Secondary School for A-Level.

1988 Joined Makerere University for degree in agricultural economics.

 1990 Elected Guild Speaker.

 1991 Graduated, then rerolled for law degree.

  1994 Graduated with Bachelor of Law degree.

 1995 Attended Law Development Centre for Diploma in Legal Practice.

  1996 Started teaching at LDC and joined law private.

 2001 Joined elective politics – won Omoro County seat

 2006 Lost re-election bid and quit UPC

 2008 Chaired inquiry into sub-lease of Kisekka Market

 2011 Retakes Omoro County MP seat, elected Deputy Speaker.

 2016 Retains Omoro seat and deputy speaker position.

 2021 Elected Speaker of Parliament