The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has fully endorsed Kira Municipality legislator Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda in the Speakership race for the 11th Parliament.
The announcement was made by the Party Chairman Amb. Waswa Birigwa. He noted that the decision was reached through the party’s top organs, the working committee, the Parliamentary caucus and the National Executive Council (NEC) of FDC.
“We agreed to front Hon. Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda and Hon. Yussuf Nsibambi to contest for the positions of Speaker and deputy speaker of the 11th Parliament respectively,” Amb. Birigwa told journalists on Monday.
Birigwa noted that as FDC, they will give their candidates all the necessary support throughout the race in the next Parliament.
FDC now becomes the first political party to endorse candidates for the Speakership race as the rest are yet to make any official announcements.
Ssemujju becomes the latest legislator to join the race for Speakership, a position that Kadaga has held since 2011 having taken over from Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, the current Vice President.
By taking over from Ssekandi, Kadaga became the first woman to occupy the position in the history of Uganda.
While addressing journalists at Parliament, Ssemujju said his experience as a parliamentary journalist and MP over the years is good enough for him to steer the House in the 11th Parliament.
“If the Almighty Allah gives me life and I’m sworn in May, this will be my third term as an MP, having joined the House in 2011. I, therefore, bring my experience of 10 years to this office of the Speaker,” he said.
Before his election as an MP, Ssemujju was a parliamentary journalist and at one time the leader of all Parliamentary journalists.
“I joined Parliamentary journalism when James Wapakhabulo was still a Speaker of Parliament. He left the office as the Speaker around 1998 to become the movement political commissar. I, therefore, covered Parliament presided over by James Wapakhabulo, Francis Ayume, Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi and became an MP to be presided over by Rebecca Kadaga,” he added as he declared his intention to join the race in which deputy speaker Jacob Oulanyah is also a contender.
During his tenure as a journalist, Ssemujju says he attended almost every sitting of the House and learnt the different tricks that the different Speakers were used to steer the House. It is these “good tactics” that he has learnt over the years that he intends to employ once he takes over as a Speaker of the 11th Parliament.
“In the last half of the ninth Parliament, I served as the chairperson of the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE). In the first half of the 10th Parliament, I served first as shadow minister for lands and I was later appointed as shadow minister for information. Under Parliament’s rules, the chairperson of a committee performs same and similar functions as a Speaker and it’s only the administrative functions which are provided for under the administration of Parliament Act that the chairperson does not perform,” Ssemujju added.
The outspoken MP says he is well-versed with chairing the meetings of Parliament; the major functions of the Speaker’s office.
“I have served as chief opposition whip for the last five years and I have interacted with MPs on both sides. I fully understand the type of Speaker that MPs are yearning for. The MPs want a Speaker who will be impartial while presiding over Parliament, one who will be accessible to all,” he added.
The Speakership race has so far attracted interest from four other candidates including Rebecca Kadaga (NRM) and her deputy Jacob Oulanyah (NRM), Rakai Woman MP Juliet Kinyamatama (NRM) and Richard Sebamala (DP).