The Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, made a surprise appearance at an induction workshop for Opposition legislators, to preach unity despite the divergent political ideologies.
The Omoro MP who has been away from Parliament for almost two months, returned to Parliament on Thursday, July 29, with a message to the Parliamentarians to set aside their different political shades for the greater good of the institution.
“Colours only apply during elections, but now is the time to push the colours aside and we work together; let what we do reflect on the lives of the people we lead; we cannot disagree on the interests of the people, we can only disagree on how to achieve it,” Oulanyah said.
“We know you have a different opinion on certain things [but I assure you that] in this Parliament, ideas must be put up against each other; the weak ones will die and the strong ones will survive,” he added.
His absence from Parliament had caused wide speculations that some MPs demanded on the floor of Parliament for a statement on Oulanyah’s whereabouts following media reports that he was critically ill.
Oulanyah said the country needs to do some soul-searching on its values, and learn to empathise with rather than wish ill for those said to be unwell.
“What we are losing in this country is what we call humanity. If somebody is sick, why declare that the person is dead? Why should we be painting and vanishing coffins for the sick?” he said.
The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament (LOP), Mathias Mpuuga, asked opposition lawmakers to set the standards of meticulous debate in Parliament.
“My office intends to organise several of these workshops intended to equip our members with tools to enable them to undertake their mandate with confidence and with knowledge. If MPs are well trained, nobody can impeach their suitability with the reason that they lack confidence or that they are devoid of tools that would enable them to discharge their mandate with distinction,” Mpuuga said.
To kick-start, the morning session was renowned constitutional lawyer, Dan Wandera Ogalo, who was a member of the 6th Parliament (1996 – 2001).
He tutored the new lawmakers on values in keeping faithful to their political parties and persuasion, as well as being highly informed on matters before the House, which he said will make them shine as the people’s representatives.
He further highlighted the legal and constitutional rights of Members of Parliament and the diverse ways in which they can use the laws to support them in the discharge of their functions.
Shadow Attorney General, Wilfred Niwagaba, then followed suit, talking extensively about a Private Members’ Bill, and how to navigate the Rules of Procedure to influence legislation.
Niwagaba said the best way to impact on laws before the House is during the Committee of the whole House as it considers Bills before it clause by clause, saying they can use evidence-based submissions and persuasions.
He said over time, he has noticed a challenge with the assent to Bills passed by Parliament.
“I want to leave this to the leadership; there are timelines within which the President must assent to Bills passed by Parliament; sometimes the President takes time and assents to the Bills beyond the timeframe required by law and sometimes he returns the legislation beyond the stipulated time,” he said.