Deputy speaker Anita Annet Among yesterday Tuesday blocked lawmakers from debating matters relating to the health status of the speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah.
Among was on Tuesday updating the house during plenary sitting to dispel rumours surrounding the health condition of Oulanyah who was flown out of the country for specialized treatment in Seattle, United States of America.
She told MPs that Oulanyah was flown out of the country on Friday after he was discharged from Mulago hospital where he had been admitted for the last two weeks.
“As you’re aware Rt Hon speaker of parliament Jacob Oulanyah has been unwell in the last two weeks. On 4th February that was Friday, the Rt Hon Jacob Oulanyah travelled out of the country for treatment. We pray he recovers faster and comes back to resume his job. The statement is for everybody and this statement is not for debate, I’m only informing you what is happening to your leader,” Among said.
She revealed that she spoke to Oulanyah on phone shortly before the start of the plenary, adding that the speaker is improving and instructed her to convey his message of love to the house.
“One thing I can assure you honourable members; forget about the social media. What is on the social media is not the reality. I spoke to Rt Hon Oulanyah even before I came to the house. He’s in a good mood, I told him I’m going to tell your members and he only told me; “tell them I love them.” So the social media saying; Rest in Peace Oulanyah or what is just lugambo [rumours]. That is the act of the devil. 11th parliament is not for the devil,” Among added.
Since the news broke, Ugandans on social media were incensed to learn that parliament paid a whooping Shs 1.7 billion to charter a Uganda Airlines plane to fly out Oulanyah to Seattle.
Oulanyah was airlifted in the wee hours of Thursday aboard a chartered Uganda Airlines’ 252-seater Airbus A330-800 neo which flew from Entebbe to Keflavik, Iceland in a flight time of 10 hours 42 minutes before starting its second leg from Keflavik to Seattle which lasted 7 hours and 28 minutes.
Thomas Bangirana Tayebwa, the government chief whip briefly responded on the matter and lauded Among for ably steering the house in Oulanya’s absence. She rallied colleagues to disregard the death rumours and pray for speaker’s quick recovery.
Anthony Akol, the Kilak North MP who doubles as the Acholi Parliamentary Group to which Oulanyah is a patron said the update is a sigh of relief and gives hope to the country.
The speaker was last seen in parliament on December 21, 2021. Last year, shortly after his swearing-in as speaker, Oulanyah disappeared for a month after presiding over parliament at the reading of the 2021/2022 financial year Budget at Kololo Independence grounds.
His deputy Among has been in charge of the parliamentary business since the beginning of the term in May, a matter that triggered speculation about his health. Reports had initially indicated that Oulanyah was battling Covid-19 and poisoning.