Kampala, Uganda — With Jacob Oulanyah set to battle again against Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, eight Members of Parliament have so far shown interest in filling the 'vacant' position of Deputy Speaker.
The list of aspirants includes two lawyers from Tororo, Jacob Oboth-Oboth and Fox Odoi-Oywelowo, and a minister, David Bahati, the State Minister for Finance.
"I am also in the race. I will give details later," Fox Odoi told The Independent Thursday evening. Odoi-Oywelowo is a former legal counsel at State House and has just bounced back to parliament.
His colleague from Tororo, Oboth Oboth also confirmed he will seek to walk in the footsteps of his namesake Jacob Oulanyah. Oulanyah has been Deputy Speaker of the Ugandan parliament since 2011, and competed and won against Kadaga in 2016.
"I have formally written to the Chairman of the NRM party and to the Central Executive Committee (CEC) confirming my interest in serving the country as Deputy Speaker in the 11th Parliament. I believe it is the majority party's decision on who will guide parliament," Oboth-Oboth said Thursday.
He added that his experience, first as chairman of Parliamentary Adhoc Committee that recommended cancellation of the Umeme contract in 2014, which resulted in several customer friendly reforms including introduction of Yaka, then as Chairperson of the influential Legal Affairs committee, plus 10 years of actively participating in the Commonwealth Parliament where he together with Oulanyah and Kadaga engaged speakers from over 176 countries, puts him at the front of the contenders.
"If it is competence they are looking for, I have it all. If it is a battle about geo-politics, then that will be a different matter to be handled differently," a confident Oboth-Oboth said on phone.
Oulanyah is from the north of Uganda, Kadaga and Oboth-Oboth from the East. Another factor that could come into play, is if President Museveni replaces Vice President Edward Ssekandi from Buganda, another former Speaker who lost his parliamentary seat.
Process of electing a Speaker, and Deputy
The election of a Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Parliament is the first activity of the assembly when the house opens its doors in May. This is after the administration of oaths for all persons who will be gazetted by the Electoral Commission as winners of the parliamentary elections held on January 14, 2021.
According to Article 82 of the 1995 Constitution, the office of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Parliament shall be elected by members of Parliament from among themselves.
Although the race of the Speaker of Parliament is cut between Kadaga and her current Deputy Oulanyah, there are so far eight people mobilizing support for the deputy speakers position.
They are West Budama MPs Oboth-Oboth and Fox Odoi, Bukedea Woman MP Anita Among, Kampala Central MP Muhammad Nsereko, Ruhinda North MP Thomas Tayebwa, Gomba West MP Robinah Rwakojo, Theodore Ssekikubo, the Lwemiyaga County MP and State Minister for Finance David Bahati.
Thomas Tayebwa says that he has been consulting and has received overwhelming support from his colleagues.
"I will be offering myself to lead Parliament in that role, and so far I have been consulting and the ground is good. I will contest in the NRM caucus, and depending on the support, I will abide by the outcome, but my grounds are strong," Tayebwa told URN.
According to Theodore Ssekikubo, the Deputy Speaker's position requires competence and experience, and these are some of the qualities he comes with for another term in Parliament.
"... This position needs competence, experience and grasp of the law. We will sit down and strategize on how to take this forward. This position needs someone who is sober and thinks outside the box. I am suitable," Ssekikubo says.
He echoed what Oboth Oboth said earlier. "I come to offer competency."
Although MP's vote and elect the Speaker, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Caucus and NRM Central Executive Committee influence the process by virtue of the ruling party's numerical strength. However, the election is presided over by the Chief Justice or a judge designated by the Chief Justice, and it is conducted through a secret ballot.
The Speaker of Parliament is mandated to carry out a number of duties, and key among them include presiding at any sitting of the House, preserving order and decorum in the House and make pronouncements on questions of order and practice.
While Oulanyah seeks to unseat Kadaga for the top post after serving as deputy speaker for 10 years, Kadaga is seeking a third term for the same. She also served as deputy speaker for two terms.