By John Odyek
Deputy speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah on Wednesday said the Appointments Committee followed the Rules of Procedure of Parliament in giving a fair hearing to Erios Aidah Nantaba who had been nominated to become a state minister.
Oulanyah cited Rule 156 (8) which states that a person whose name has been submitted to the Committee for approval shall be given the opportunity by the Committee to answer before it any adverse statements made against him or her to the Committee and shall be availed all necessary documents for that purpose.
Oulanyah scoffed at critics who claimed that he waited for Kadaga to be away so that they would approve Kayunga Woman MP Nantaba as state minister for lands.
"I don't act like that. I am a good lawyer. If the speaker's letter to me did not mention Nantaba, there was no way I would have entertained that matter".
Fox Odoi, chairperson Parliamentary committee on rules, privileges and discipline noted that the issue of Nantaba was one that did not require the attention of the committee because a competent committee was handling it. "It is a matter which the rules committee should not waste the tax payer's money on," Odoi asserted.
Oulanyah explained that Rebecca Kadaga, speaker of Parliament had left for Quebec on Friday and Sunday afternoon, Kadaga called him asking him to chair the Appointments Committee meeting on Monday to vet two ambassadors and review Nantaba's issue. "I got to the office and saw the letter," he said. The ambassadors approved were Sam Turyamuhika for Mogadishu and Dr Joyce Kikafunda for London.
Oulanyah said Kadaga had written to him on Friday before leaving but he had not seen the letter on Friday. He added that instructions were also sent out by Kadaga inviting members of the Committee to attend the meeting.
"I did not attend any meeting where Nantaba was vetted in the past. During the meeting the committee looked at the two letters, one written to me and the other written to Museveni. I only chaired the meeting," he stressed.
He said that he read the letter of Kadaga to the committee and the letter Kadaga had written to President Yoweri Museveni giving grounds why Nantaba had been rejected by the committee. He said the letter to Museveni stated that Nantaba had been rejected because of her conduct, that she had made an outburst to press attacking the committee and that she also asked the Chairman of NRM Museveni asking him to explain why she had been rejected.
The letter also said Nantaba had attacked Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi for working against her. He observed the question of Nantaba's moral conduct was not substantiated by those who brought it before the Committee.
"The Committee said Nantaba had not been given a fair hearing. It was agreed to recall her and hear her side of the story. The NRM and opposition agreed to call her. When I was told she was around in Parliament, we agreed to call her. When she came she apologized for her out bursts in the press," Oulanyah said.
Adding: "The Committee voted unanimously to approve her". He said no member raised the issue of bring Nantaba's vetting to the House to vote on it under Rule 160 (1). "That issue did not come up," he quipped. Under Rule 160 (1) states that where the president's nominee is not approved by the Committee, the president may appeal to the House to take a decision on the matter.
On 15 August Museveni nominated Nantaba as state minister for lands and ask Parliament to approve but on two occasions, the Appointments Committee rejected her citing discrepancies in her academic qualifications, her integrity and moral conduct.