A crusading civil rights attorney, Nicholas Opiyo, has described Uganda’s parliament Public Relations championed by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and the director of communications, Chris Obore, as “a nightmare”.
Opiyo was responding to Kadaga’s decision to host the Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU-IGAD) executive council meeting at her hotel, Century hotel in Kamuli district.
She claimed there was need for delegates “to see the countryside”.
“Parliament’s PR nighmare is made worse by two things, Kadaga’s unrepentant choice of her hotel in Kamuli to host a parliamentary event and the central role of the indefatigable and admirable Chris Obore as the chief mouthpiece for parliament,” Opiyo wrote.
He said the procurement process may have been religiously followed as claimed by parliamentary publicists but the very optics of the Speaker’s hotel being ‘selected’ to host a parliamentary event amid accusations of parliamentary extravagance is a hard sale.
“This, especially so when the chief salesman is a former fierce critic of government opulence and corruption.”
He added: “Forgive many citizens, including yours truly, who cannot get pass the Kadaga ‘slice of luck’ and Chris Obore’s new found role. These things are hard to fathom if you were a fun of both in the past. I am not PR expert but I think both Kadaga and Obore may want think about letting others do the talking if they want to win a PR battle.”
Beyond the PR, Opiyo said, parliament must move quickly to focus on the welfare of the citizens other than enhancing their privileges and entitlements.
He said the belife that there is some sort of conspiracy against parliament is simply unbelievable.
“If there is any conspiracy, it is that of parliamentary conspiring against itself and against the many Ugandans who already see them as unfairly remunerated.”
The decision by Kadaga to host the meeting at her hotel raised eyebrows with some sections of the public accusing her of conflict of interest.
In her defence, Kadaga said on many occasions such meetings are held in Kampala where delegates fly in, sit in city hotels and go back to the airport without knowing the country.
She says they decided to show the IGAD delegates where Ugandans live, how they cope and the development challenges they face.
“We chose to bring you here for three main reasons. First; it was in response to your request. When we were meeting in Addis Ababa in July 2016, it was indicated by our chair, Hon. [Abadula] Gemeda, the Speaker of the national assembly of Ethiopia, that had it not been for a shortage of time his plans was to take us to an upcountry venue rather than the capital. So following that discussion, we have brought you here to a rural part of Uganda”, she is quoted by press as saying.
The Speaker has been in the news since last week when she declared war on media for revealing dirty parliament secrets.