What you need to know:
- Ms Patricia Lakidi, according to family sources had been informed of a sinister plot to humiliate her in front of the mourners and decided to stay away from the burial ceremony.
The woman who stood by former Speaker Jacob Oulanyah until he took his last breath in Seattle, US was yesterday barred from the funeral.
On the urging of unyielding family members, Nathan Okori, the father of Jacob Oulanyah, decided to block Ms Patricia Lakidi from attending the burial of a man she took care of in his last days on the earth.
Family sources say the decision was taken after a series of closed-door family meetings in Lalogi, Omoro District, where some of Oulanyah’s relatives accused Ms Lakidi of blocking them from accessing Oulanyah and fomenting divisions within the family.
In the meeting, sources say, a group of enraged family members including a brother of the late Oulanyah, vilified Ms Lakidi as an outsider and convinced Mr Okori to block her from the burial. They claimed that she was so much in control of Oulanyah and resolved that she should be stopped from coming to the Muyenga home of the deceased, State ceremony at Kololo and Omoro for burial.
The message was later relayed to Kampala, and Ms Lakidi’s aunt (unidentified) would be told through concerned family members that her niece was unwanted at Kololo, Muyenga and at the burial ceremony in Omoro District. The aunt would later complain to Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo and others that her niece was unwelcome at the burial.
When Oulanyah’s children led by Andrew Ojok Oulanyah got this information, they rubbished the accusations against Ms Lakidi and according to sources close to national organising committee (NOC), threatened to boycott the Kololo ceremony.
At the family residence in Muyenga, a Kampala suburb, Ms Milly Bababanda, the minister for Presidency, who was also the chairperson of NOC, intervened and assured Oulanyah’s children that Ms Lakidi would not be blocked from attending the Kololo ceremony.
At Kololo, Ms Diana Aceng, a daughter of former Speaker, who is a nurse in Arizona, US, applauded her father’s close friend, Ms Lakidi, who she said stood by her father as they took care of him jointly in hospital in Seattle, United States.
“I am a nurse and my duty is to advocate for patients but the way you did it....you stood along with dad. We cried we held hands. You encouraged me and I encouraged you, we took turns to sleep for a short while. You stood by my father until he took his last breath. You are not just my aunt, you are my mother,” Ms Aceng said.
Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the Health minister, told mourners at Oulanyah’s home in Muyenga, Kampala on Monday night, that Ms Lakidi was among the four people who accompanied Oulanyah to Seattle. Her role in Seattle was to take care of the former Speaker.
Oulanyah died on March 20 in Seattle where he had been flown for specialised treatment. This week, the government announced that he died as a result of multiple organ failure. Oulanyah’s father, however, believes his son was poisoned.
Ms Babalanda fulfilled her promise and—in the face of behind-the-scenes family resistance—managed to get Ms Lakidi to attend functions at Muyenga and Kololo respectively. In fact, Ms Lakidi was among the few notable people allowed to lay a wreath on the casket of the late Oulanyah.
Although the Kololo event passed without drama, behind the scenes, family members were plotting to block Ms Lakidi from the burial ceremony.
After the body landed in Omoro on Wednesday, Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa and others tried to mediate but Mr Lokori and family members refused to budge.
Ms Lakidi, according to family sources had been informed of a sinister plot to humiliate her in front of the mourners and decided to stay away from the burial ceremony.
Family speaks out
At the burial ceremony, Mr Okori didn’t mention any name but said: “There is a woman who I have heard was in Jacob’s house, she has now smuggled away everything from Oulanyah’s house including bank books, and has disappeared with them.”
In his eulogy, Oulanyah’s brother Francis Emuna also told mourners that his brother “didn’t leave any woman on earth” following the death of his first wife Dorothy Nangwale in 2009 and failed marriage to Winnie Amoo Okot in 2015.
Although Ms Lakidi was unavailable to talk about these matters, sources told Saturday Monitor that she has the support of Oulanyah’s children and other influential people in government (Speaker Anita Among, Deputy Speaker Tayebwa, Chief Justice Owiny Dollo, State Minister for Economic Monitoring Peter Ogwang, minister Beatrice Anywar and members of the Acholi Parliamentary Group.
What others say
One of the ministers who was trying to intercede on behalf of Ms Lakidi, described the decision to expel her as “shameful” and requested the family to reconsider their stand on the matter. “His wife passed away, he remarried but divorced. Who was keeping their son all this time, if not Patricia! Shame. Look at Jacob’s children coming to hug her while laying a wreath!” one of the ministers said.
Another official close to the family, who requested anonymity, said: “I tried to understand it this morning, it is very complicated. They claim she cut them off. They could not access their son. I told them it was H.E the President who ordered. They argue she divided the family so they convinced Mzee Okori to block her. Very unfair.”