The government has budgeted to spend Shs2.5b on an “excellent” funeral and burial of late Jacob Oulanyah, whose casket is expected to arrive by Ethiopian Airlines at Entebbe International Airport this Friday.
The 56-year-old Oulanyah, who was the speaker of the 11th Parliament, died in the United States where he was airlifted in February for specialized medical care.
A budget of Shs2.5b is prepared by the National Organizing Committee chaired by the Presidency Minister, Ms Milly Babalanda, excluding medical and funeral home bills in the US as well as expenses of flying back Oulanyah’s body.
The casket containing the former speaker’s remains is expected to arrive by Ethiopian Airlines at Entebbe International Airport this Friday, and will be accompanied by Oulanyah’s family in the US and Ms Patricia Lakidi, described in medical documents as the deceased’s “partner”.
The ex-Omoro Member of Parliament’s time at the University of Washington Medical Centre was marked by protests outside the facility by the Ugandan Diaspora community over initial reports, which Uganda Airlines dismissed without providing alternative figures that airlifting him to America cost Shs1.7b.
According to reliable sources, nearly half of the Shs2.5b will be spent on the actual day of Oulanyah’s interment at his ancestral home in Omoro in northern Uganda.
Asked yesterday what the lawmakers will use the money for since there is a separate Shs124m budgeted for “fuel for coordination” and Shs18m for publicity,
APG chairperson Anthony Akol hesitated at talking about the budget saying that as Acholi Parliamentary Group, that what they had agreed on.
“When Jacob (Oulanyah) was taken for treatment abroad, you people were complaining about the expenses and now why should I talk about the budget?” he said.
He later referred additional inquiries to Relief and Disaster Preparedness Minister Hillary Onek, whom he said is the APG representative to the National Organising Committee.
It should be noted that Mr Museveni assigned minister Babalanda to oversee a state burial upon Oulanyah’s death.
It is planned that at the airport, an Acholi cultural troupe will perform the Bwola, a graceful Acholi traditional dance for royalty or other notables during which high achievements including battle exploits or tribulations are recounted.
Oulanyah was himself deeply immersed in his culture and publicly participated in different traditional Acholi dances.
According to the draft funeral and burial programme, Oulanyah’s body on Tuesday, next week, will be moved to Parliament where it will lie in state for tributes by legislators added and the burial day shall, as specified in the law, be declared a public holiday