Legislators have today heaped praise on former MP, Maj. Gen. Julius Oketta, who died suddenly on Saturday.
The Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, who moved the Motion for Parliament to pay respect to Late Oketta, said the deceased had “died of pulmonary embolism (clot in the lungs) at Kardic Hospital in Kampala.”
He said that discussions between government and the UPDF Medical team as well as the family had shown that the deceased had problems of blood clots before. Oketta was born in Pabo, Amuru in March 1956. He was 60 years at the time of his death.
Rugunda said that Oketta would be remembered as an “articulate and effective representative of the UPDF in Parliament.”
“He was a great Ugandan and servant of this country. The country and Africa have lost a seasoned and respected army officer, whose skills and abilities are important in Uganda’s transformation,” said Rugunda.
Parliament, which has been on recess since October, was recalled for a Special Session to pay respect to the Late Maj. Gen. Oketta.
The Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah, who chaired the special session said the Late. Gen. Oketta in choosing to serve as an Army officer had made a noble choice.
“He served with dignity and diligence exposing qualities of a nationalist; devoid of tribalism, arrogance and corruption. He was truly a professional,” he said.
Oketta held various positions in both the UPDF and the Ministry of Defence and represented the Army in both the 8th and 9th Parliaments. In 2014 Oketta worked with the African Union Anti Ebola Operation in West Africa, where he was recognized by the Liberian President. In May 2016 he was appointed Deputy Chief Coordinator of the Operation Wealth Creation Programme.
Dr. Rugunda said that his commitment to pursue education while a serving soldier had inspired young graduates into joining the Army.
Legislators described the deceased as disciplined army officer, a role model and humanitarian worker.
The Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Winnie Kiiza (FDC, Kasese district) described Oketta as a religious officer, who was “smart both in dress and character.”
The Chief of Defence Forces Gen. Katumba Wamala described Oketta as “a good combatant and peacemaker, who contributed to dislodging of Alice Lakwena.”
In her condolence message, Speaker Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, praised Oketta’s respect for civilian authority and said his “commitment to the country cannot be questioned,” having served to defend the country since the days of Idi Amin in the 1970s.
Kadaga is away in Rabat, Morocco, attending the 39th Conference and 69th Session of the Executive Committee of the African Parliamentary Union.
“He was a fine officer and gentleman, among the finest Uganda has produced,” she said in her message read by the Deputy Speaker.
Earlier on in the morning, the body of the late Oketta lay in state at Parliament Building for public viewing.
At Parliament, the casket containing the remains of the deceased was received by Deputy Speaker Hon. Oulanyah, Second Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Moses Ali, the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Winnie Kiiza and a number of legislators.
Oketta’s burial is scheduled for Wednesday 9 November 2016 in Amuru district.