What happened to promises made at Oulanyah’s burial?

Former Speaker Jacob Oulanyah (inset) and his unfinished building as seen in 2022. PHOTO/MARKO TAIBOT

What you need to know:

  • Mr Deus Agaba, the personal assistant to Mr Andrew Ojok (Oulanyah’s son), says an eight-member committee was constituted to follow up on the pledges.

The family of the former Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah has said they are steadily securing the fulfilment of the pledges made during his funeral, a year ago.

Oulanyah, the former Speaker of the 11th Parliament, died of cancer on March 20 in Seattle, Washington in the United States where he had been flown for specialised treatment.

Oulanyah was the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party’s vice chairperson for northern Uganda, a post which has remained vacant since.

This publication inquired into the promises made during the funeral of Oulanyah to establish whether they had been fulfilled.

Mr Deus Agaba, the personal assistant of Mr Andrew Ojok (Oulanyah’s son), who was elected last year as his successor for the Omoro County seat, said an eight-member committee, led by Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, was constituted to follow up on the pledges.

“We are aware that the MPs contributed Shs1 million each towards the Education Trust Fund after a follow-up was made on the floor of Parliament. That support has enabled the support of each of the more than 200 students and none of them dropped out of school,” he said.

President Museveni bows in honor of the deceased former Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah, after laying a wreath on the casket containing his remains at Kololo Independence Grounds on April 6, 2022. PHOTO/ DAVID LUBOWA

It was established that upon his demise, a group of Oulanyah’s friends set up a scholarship fund to advance his education support initiative and it is chaired by Chief Justice Owiny-Dollo, with Mr Norbert Mao, the minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, and Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa, among others, as board members.

Mr Justus Tugume, Mr Ojok’s political assistant, said one of the beneficiaries named Andrew Racikara Obura scored triple-A, the maximum points in A-Level exams from Seroma High School.
Asked about Omoro FM, an initiative by Oulanyah, Mr Agaba said the radio was in advanced stages of engineering.

Mr Tugume said the radio is likely to be operational next week.
“Next week, it will be on air. What we are doing at the moment is testing the network. Everything is done, the frequency is yet to be issued, and [Mr Ojok has already met Uganda Communication Commission],” Mr Tugume said.

Mr Tugume also said the technical works on Oulanyah’s mansion were steadily progressing.
“The President promised to finish the work and we still believe the promise will be fulfilled.  His office has always pledged to do everything. There is progress, the plumbing has been worked upon, but we are following up with the President’s office,” he said.

Pledges made

On April 5, 2022, while speaking at the vigil of Oulanyah, Mr Tayebwa told mourners that Parliament had passed a resolution for each MP to contribute Shs1 million to support the Oulanyah Education Trust Fund.

He also told mourners that MPs were likely to contribute more than Shs700 million to support the education trust fund. “We shall continue to support the Oulanyah education trust fund not only as MPs but even as an institution.”

Speaker of the 11th Parliament Anita Among hands over an envelope to Mr Nathan Okori, the father of her deceased predecessor, Jacob Oulanyah during his burial ceremony in Omoro District. The envelope is said to have contained Shs50m for his upkeep

Earlier on, the Acholi Parliamentary Group pledged to ensure that the FM and TV stations that were already being built by late Oulanyah are completed.

While campaigning for Mr Ojok at Odek Primary School, more than a month after Oulanyah’s demise, President Museveni promised to contribute funds towards the Oulanyah Education Trust Fund.

Mr Tugume said Mr Ojok and his team  have developed strategies that have seen Dano-pa-Dano Foundation go forward, including the Oulanyah Education Trust Fund.

“One area he is looking at now is education, whereas we only have a single seed secondary school in Lakwana Sub-county, it will be my role to ensure that I lobby and ensure that all these sub-counties have seed schools and lobby for the upgrade of Lalogi Health Centre IV into a district general hospital,” he said.

Daily Monitor’s efforts to speak to Mr Nathan Okori, Oulanyah’s father, were futile since his known telephone numbers were unavailable.

Suspended NRM election

Since his demise, Oulanyah’s position as the NRM party regional vice chairman for northern Uganda has not been filled.

In a telephone interview, Mr Emmanuel Dombo, the NRM party spokesman, on  Wednesday said the party deliberately delayed the by-election following a technical guide by the party chairman President Museveni.

When Parliament moved to replace then Speaker, Mr Dombo said Mr Museveni criticised the move because it contradicted the African traditional norms of mourning and bereavement.

“The prolonged period without elections was in line with the President’s wish that the nation mourns Oulanyah but now that a year has passed, we are getting back to him to establish when we can start the process and have the elections done,” he added.

The Monitor saw a programme detailing a seven-day plan for a set of memorial activities to honour the late Oulanyah, a year after his demise.

Details of the activities lined up, include the launch of the J. Oulanyah Memorial Cup in Omoro today followed by a 3pm memorial service on Monday at All Saints Cathedral in Kampala, among others.

Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, in a telephone interview declined to discuss the pledges made at Oulanyah’s funeral, citing confidentiality and respect for the deceased.

“I think what we need to do is let Jacob Oulanyah rest in peace for now. We do not want to expose or make public records of our collections against what was pledged, to expose who has fulfilled their pledges or not,” Justice Owiny-Dollo said.

“In any case, it is not forceful [that whoever pledged] must pay [fulfil], it is not fair to say someone has not fulfilled their pledges, it is not a debt otherwise that someone pledged and must fulfil them,” he said.

He, however, said the foundation would account for the funds realised out of pledges. 
“We will, as a foundation, release records of all money that has been issued but at an appropriate time. We will release the accountability of all funds realised and this will be done periodically,” the CJ said.

Justice Owiny-Dollo also said the foundation had instituted a committee to ensure the funds are put to the right use.

“There are guidelines and safeguards to ensure that money collected is not just poured anyhow (in executing some of the activities at Oulanyah’s home), it must satisfy justifiable needs,” he said.

Fare-thee-well: Former Speaker of the 11th Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, laid to rest.