Meet aspirants vying for Speaker job

By Umaru Kashaka

Added 28th April 2016 03:13 PM

On Thursday next week, the ruling party caucus will hold primaries at a venue yet to be announced.

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On Thursday next week, the ruling party caucus will hold primaries at a venue yet to be announced.

Expressions of interest are trickling in for the role of Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the 10th Parliament after the electoral commission chairman of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Dr Tanga Odoi issued guidelines on Tuesday.

On Thursday next week, the ruling party caucus will hold primaries at a venue yet to be announced during which NRM legislators in the 10th parliament will elect candidates to contest for the most coveted seats of speaker and deputy speaker.

NRM has 294 MPs out of 458 legislators expected in the 10th Parliament. The main opposition party Forum for Democratic Change has 36, Democratic Party 14, Uganda People's Congress 6 and Independents 64. Forty-four of the Independents contested in the ruling party's primary elections.

With such an NRM majority, the candidates of the ruling party for the position of Speaker and Deputy Speaker will always have an edge over other political parties in elections.

The race for Speaker has so far attracted two aspirants and there are at least seven NRM backbenchers interested in switching to the Deputy Speaker chair. Who are they?



Considered by colleagues to be independent minded and confident, NRM MP Rebecca Kadaga has represented Kamuli district as Woman MP since 1996.

But the NRM national vice chairperson, who is single, was an MP for Kamuli district in 1989. The 59-year-old Kadaga is now seeking re-election as Speaker of Parliament after serving fifteen years (10 as deputy speaker and five as speaker).

Kadaga was born in Kamuli district and went to Namasagali College for her high education. After studying law at Makerere University, she graduated with the degree of bachelor of laws in 1978.

She went on to obtain a diploma in legal practice from the Law Development Center in Kampala in 1979. In 2000, she obtained a diploma in Women's Law from the University of Zimbabwe. In 2003, she obtained the degree of Master of Arts, specialising in Women's Law, also from the University of Zimbabwe.

When she opened Kadaga and Company Advocates in 1984 after a stint as legal assistant at Obol Ochola Law Chambers, analysts said then she seemed set for a life away from government and direct participation in politics.

But, they said, the government service she started as Kamuli MP in 1989 built up to her current position in the third-highest political office as Uganda's first female Speaker of Parliament.

Her landslide victory of 302 votes to Forum for Democratic Change Nandala Mafabi's 72 on 19th May 2011 signaled Ugandan MP's readiness to follow her example of putting national interests above party politics. Validation for "the people's speaker" tag came quickly.

In April 2012 when Uganda became the first East African country to host the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the world's largest union of 159 national Parliaments, she called on NRM and non-NRM support in showcasing Uganda's positive attributes to the visiting delegates.

But FDC and Activists for Change (A4C) staged a walk-to-work protest during the assembly that was, in her opinion, the 9th Parliament's contribution to Uganda's golden jubilee celebrations. Many opined the opposition had taken advantage of her accommodative attitude.

Observers say the style with which she referees parliamentary sessions is evenhanded, a trait so unusual among party-affiliated politicians that she has publicly said she will not give in to pressure from fellow NRM party members to muzzle opposition voices.

The example of her conduct, and directly marketing a Ugandan candidate to other states helped Margaret Zziwa become a Speaker at the East African Legislative Assembly.

For such efforts she won an award for helping the East African integration process, and also earned the respect of most Ugandans for being the voice of reason in a Parliament fraught with political frictions.

She is one of the political luminaries of Busoga sub-region and exudes the virtues of confidence and assertive.

Many MPs, while contributing on a motion to congratulate her upon being elected chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians International in September 2013, asked her to run for presidency after describing her as a national leader.

The then Leader of the Opposition Nandala Mafabi urged: "We want you to take Uganda to a higher level. We want leaders who are intelligent and we shall never betray you," he said.

In one of her interviews with New Vision, Kadaga said she would like to be remembered as the Speaker who fought for the independence of Parliament.



The 51-year-old Jacob Oulanyah wants to unseat her boss, Kadaga. He was born on March 23, 1965. In an interview with Sunday Vision in November last year, Oulanyah said his father is Nathan L'okori and mother, Karen Atwon. But he said the latter passed on in August 1998 in Mulago after falling sick.

He went to Lalogi Primary School, Nabumali High School, St. Joseph College Layibi, Dr. Obote College Boroboro and completed A'level at Kololo Senior Secondary School. At Makerere University, Oulanyah studied agricultural economics.

And without further ado, he enrolled for a degree in law at the same institution. While at Makerere, Oulanyah had contested for guild presidency but stepped aside in favour of Norbert Mao (eventual winner). He afterwards ran for the Speaker of the guild and won.

Following his graduation from Law Development Centre (LDC), Oulanyah worked as a lecturer at the centre in 1997. During the same timeframe, Oulanyah began private law practice at the law firm of Oulanyah, Onoria & Company Advocates.

In 2001, he entered politics by successfully contesting for the parliamentary seat of Omoro County in Gulu district on the Uganda People's Congress (UPC) ticket.

In 2005, his critics said he chaired the parliamentary legal committee that recommended the constitutional amendments lifting the presidential term limits. But Oulanyah vehemently denies the allegation of recommending removal of term limits. He also participated in the peace talks between the government and the Lord's Resistance Army rebels. In 2006, standing as a UPC candidate, he lost his re-election bid. In July 2006, he quit the UPC and joined the ruling party. In 2008 he served as the chairman of the commission of inquiry into the controversial sub-lease of Kisekka Market, one of the municipal markets in the city.

In March 2011, Oulanyah was elected to represent Omoro County in the Ninth Parliament, this time on the NRM ticket. He was elected as Deputy Speaker of Parliament on 19 May 2011. But the Opposition has accused Oulanyah of being partisan and siding with government to pass anti-people policies.



Born in June 1973, David Bahati has represented Ndorwa West on NRM ticket since 2001. He has also thrown his hat into the ring. Observers say Bahati, the architect of the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill that parliament passed into law in December 2013 and was in August 2014 annulled by the Constitutional Court on grounds that it was passed without the requisite quorum and was therefore illegal, stands out as the most powerful aspirants for deputy speaker job.

Although he is a person of considerable parliamentary experience, observers say his lack of legal knowledge might prove his undoing. He once served as NRM caucus deputy chairperson.

In 2009, a young Member of Parliament, Bahati, collaborated with James Nsaba Buturo, the former minister of state for ethics and integrity, in putting forth the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Parliament.

He is currently the state minister of finance and was appointed to that position in a cabinet reshuffle on March 1, 2015. He attended Kigezi High School for both ordinary and advanced certificate of education. He attained a bachelor’s degree in commerce from Makerere University and a master’s degree in business administration from Cardiff University in UK in 2002. He headed finance and administration, population secretariat from 1998-2005 and was accountant in population secretariat from 1997-1998. He also served as a banking officer in Diamond Trust Bank from 1996-1997.



The 35-year-old Denis Obua has been a representative of Ajuri County in Alebtong district since 2006. Obua, who also doubles as NRM caucus spokesperson, went to Inomo Primary School for PLE and Lango College for both O’level and A’ level education.  He has a bachelor’s degree in social work and social administration (SWASA) from Uganda Christian University and a diploma in law from LDC. Obua first joined parliament in 2006 as Youth MP for northern Uganda and served until 2011. In January 2009 his NRM party appointed him parliamentary commissioner. Obua also served as a senior clerical officer (legal duties) in the office of the vice-president from 2005 to 2006. He was also a legal assistant, Atim and Co. Advocates.  Observers say Obua is widely respected across the political divide and is a clear frontrunner for the deputy speaker job.



Born in 1971, Jacob Oboth –Oboth is also in the race for deputy speaker although he is again in parliament as an independent MP for West Budama South in Tororo district.

He retained his seat after polling 20,653 votes against the NRM candidate, Phibby Awere Otaala’s 19, 462 votes.

Oboth broke the record for being elected for second successive term in this constituency which had not re-elected an incumbent MP to Parliament since 1996.

He, however, says he has been winning the NRM primaries but doesn’t understand how the ruling party didn’t accept him as its flag bearer in 2011 and 2016 general elections.

When he was first elected West Budama South MP (independent) in 2011, he had one leg in court and another in Parliament for his first six months as a legislator. He had defeated the former minister of state for Health, Dr Emmanuel Otaala, but the minister had gone to court to challenge Oboth’s victory.

It was not until the Court of Appeal dismissed Otaala’s petition that Oboth settled in Parliament. Oboth-Oboth studied at Majjansi High School, Tororo High School and Makerere University where he trained as a lawyer. He says at one time he was picked up by American missionaries from Tororo streets after being sent away from school for lack of tuition. During his time with the missionaries, Oboth-Oboth says that he worked as a store keeper on top of other petty jobs for two years before he joined A-level at Tororo High School.

After graduating as a lawyer, Oboth-Oboth secured employment in the ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs as a state attorney. He worked in Mbale for some time before going to the United States to pursue a master’s degree in election and cyber law at the University of Minnesota.

Upon his return in 2007, Oboth-Oboth resumed his work in government until 2010 when he resigned to join active politics. Oboth-Oboth says that because he made several friends during his stay in the US, many donors offered to initiate projects in his constituency, which helped to sway voters to his side.

He found it easy to reach out to the poor in his constituency because he was one of them. A down-to-earth man, Oboth-Oboth did odd jobs to make ends meet in his childhood. From fetching water for a fee to store keeping, he did it all. He has chaired parliamentary committees such as energy.



Abbas Agaba, 36, is the MP elect for Kitagwenda County in Kamwenge district and he is also vying for the deputy speaker's seat. But political observers say he has to overcome the fact that he is joining Parliament for the very first time and therefore deemed inexperienced.

Agaba holds a master’s degree in business administration from Kampala International University (KIU). He attained the first degree, a Bachelor of Science in Education from Makerere University between 2000 and 2003. He has also got other academic qualifications including a Master of Leadership and International Human Relation degree from Makerere University.

He has been serving as Resident District Commissioner (RDC) for Serere district since 2012. Between 2006 and 2011; he was the executive assistant to the vice-chancellor of KIU. Agaba also worked with the African Peer Review Mechanism National Commission under finance ministry. He also taught at Bishop Senior School (Mukono), Kabojja Secondary School and Namilyango College. He has also represented Uganda on a number of diplomatic missions including in 2007 where he was a member of the Uganda delegation at the signing of the Dar-es-salam Declaration for Peace and Security.



The 44-year-old Wilfred Niwagaba, who won the 2011 elections on NRM ticket and declined in August 2015 to pick nomination forms to participate in the party's primaries opting to go it alone, has represented Ndorwa East since 2006. He wants to become the deputy speaker.

Niwagaba studied law at Makerere University and LDC in 1995. He worked as a professional advisor of LDC from 2002-2006. He worked as legal counsel with Lwere & Co. Advocates in 1995, became LC5 Councillor for Nakawa in 1997. He has Niwagaba & Mwebesa Advocates partner from 2001 to date.

He was also a part-timed lecture at the National College of Business Studies, Nakawa, from 1996-2000.

Political observers say Niwagaba, viewed by many as an independent minded legislator, would be the best contender because he has practiced law and he is a person of considerable parliamentary experience, but he stands a slim chance of winning because he has been accused of violating NRM's code of conduct by defying party positions in Parliament and hobnobbing with opposition colleagues in the ninth parliament.



The outgoing national Female Youth legislator, Monica Amoding, 34, is also in the race for Deputy Speaker of Parliament. Amoding, who holds a master degree in gender studies and is currently finalising her law degree at Makerere University, has been MP since 2011. She did her O'level at Makerere High School in 1999 and A'level at Tororo Girls School in 1997. Amoding told New Vision in an interview recently that she believes winning the deputy speaker's chair would lift her profile and help her run for big positions in future. She was a co-ordinator of Uganda Women's Parliamentary Association (UWOPA) from 2009-2011 and program assistant at National Women's Council in 2005.

The Kumi district Woman MP-elect, who chairs the Uganda Parliamentary Youth Forum, has been vocal on issues of the youth and children. Amoding has also pushed for the operationalisation of the Youth Fund and highlighted the plight of the unemployed youth.



The 61-year-old Jovah Kamateeka wants also to become Deputy Speaker. She was re-elected as Mitooma Woman MP in February 18 elections. She currently chairs the Human Rights Committee of Parliament. She went to Gayaza High School in 1972 and has a master's degree in public administration from Uganda Management Institute and another master's degree in business administration from the Eastern and Southern African Management Institute in Tanzania. In 1984 she obtained a master's degree in arts from Makerere University and a diploma in education in 1976. She also has a number of certificates, including the one of senior managers in government from Harvard University.  She was undersecretary of Law Reform Commission. She has also served in various capacities in the NRM-led Government and State House, Entebbe.  She has on many occasions stood up for human rights.



The 46-year-old Theodore Ssekikubo has represented Lwemiyaga County in Ssembabule district on NRM ticket since 2001. He is also in the race for Deputy Speaker of Parliament.  He is one of the MPs-elect that have not been gazetted by the Electoral Commission and might not swear in next month because of a petition by his rival, Patrick Nkalubo before Masaka Chief Magistrate's Court seeking a vote recount.

He has Master of Arts in Public Administration and Management from Makerere University and a degree in social services from the same university.  Observers say just like Niwagaba, Ssekikubo is a person of considerable parliamentary experience, but he stands a slim chance of winning because he has been accused of violating NRM's code of conduct by defying party positions in Parliament and hobnobbing with opposition colleagues in the ninth parliament. 

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