By Mwenda Moses Abraham
On Thursday we glued on our television screens watching the official opening of the retreat of the newly elected National Resistance Movement Members of Parliament at National Leadership Training Institute Kyankwanzi by General Yoweri Museveni, who also the party chairman.
At the opening ceremony was also none other than the deputy speaker of parliament, Jacob Oulanyah. The absence of speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga at the fertile ground in Kyankwanzi with over 300 elected MPs including NRM leaning independents, left many guessing. But it later came clear that CEC members did not attend the meeting.
Oulanyah and Museveni were on army uniform like most of the participants and it looked like it was going to be the best day for the deputy speaker. When Museveni arrived, the television cameras showed Oulanyah, prime minister Ruhakana Rugunda, NRM secretary general Justine Lumumba and deputy secretary general Richard Todwong received Museveni as the new MPs were singing.
Todwong was the first to go on microphone and he announced the presence of Oulanyah and others at the event. The congregation seemed not bothered to hear the name of the deputy speaker.
The second person to take the podium was Lumumba and she also mentioned the presence of the deputy speaker. At least there was some little excitement from the far left when she mentioned Oulanyah.
The third person to speak was Rugunda, and I expected that he was going to invite the deputy speaker, who is the NRM national vice chairman, to be the one to invite the chairman of the party. Alas, Rugunda did not invite Oulanyah but straight away invited Museveni. It can be understood that since Oulanyah is on the race for speaker and campaigns said to be banned, there was no need to invite him. Or was it Museveni to do the needful for Oulanyah?
Museveni finally took to the podium and I thought the matter that had left the country anxious for the last three months, speaker, was at last going to be settled. Museveni went straight to discuss the economy without even talking about the protocol. It appears mentioning the protocol would make him to recognize Oulanyah and he had to avoid the whole thing.
During his speech, he instead attacked the old parliament which Oulanyah has been number two in command for the last 10 years. Oulanyah was only about 4 meters from the Museveni’s microphone basing on the television pictures. Museveni kept on blaming the old MPs near the deputy speaker’s feet.
When Museveni said his second last point was on the African fraternity, we believed the last point was to declare Oulanyah the party choice for speaker. We were wrong, it was a different matter and Museveni in fact didn’t mention anything about the speaker race to the new honourables.
Museveni concluded his speech, went and sat without mentioning Oulanyah. When Todwong asked the president for a picture with the participants, Museveni said he was not ready since First Lady Janet Kataha was not around.
Museveni returned for the second session when Oulanyah had left and he took pictures with all the groups. Now we are left wondering why Museveni chose to ignore Oulanyah given the many words he supports the deputy speaker against Kadaga.
The writer is a social worker.
By Mwenda Moses Abraham