By 10:00am, the casket containing the remains of the late Prof. Apolo Nsibambi, a man known for keeping time, was rolled into the parliamentary foyer.
The body was received by the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, 2nd Deputy Prime Minister Kirunda Kivejinja, Clerk to Parliament Jane Kibirige, NRM secretary General Kasule Lumumba and many other ministers and MPs.
His wife Ester Nsibambi, the children and other relatives slowly followed behind the casket as the Police Band played “It Is Well with My Soul”, a hymn composed by Philip Bliss.
Several former Ministers, MPs and Government officials flocked Parliament to pay their last respect to Uganda’s longest Prime Minister.
Legislators from across the political spectrum have Friday, 31 May 2019 during a special session, paid glowing tribute to the late Professor Apolo Robin Nsibambi, the former Prime Minister of Uganda.
The Prime Minister emeritus aged 78 years, passed on Tuesday, 21 May 2019 at his Rubaga home in the outskirts of Kampala city after a long battle with cancer.
Moving the motion to pay tribute to Prof. Nsibambi, the Prime Minister and Leader of Government Business in Parliament, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda eulogised his peer as an illustrious politician who served with distinction in several positions of responsibility.
“I learnt a lot from the late Prof. Nsibambi especially with handling issues political in the Office of the Prime Minister; he tirelessly served this country and we all have a leaf to pick from his behaviour,” he added.
Prof. Morris Ogenga Latigo (FDC, Agago North) said he celebrates Prof. Nsibambi’s life and achievements having served as Leader of the Opposition in the 8th Parliament while he was the Prime Minister.
“We served as the first multi-party Parliament using our intellect, maturity and calmness to serve this Parliament in a way a multi-party Parliament should be,” he said.
Prof. Latigo said the Prime Minister made sure he would seek harmony on matters that the government and the Opposition sides were disagreeing on before presenting the issue on the Floor of Parliament.
“The Professor always called me and after a couple of jokes he would present to me an issue that is slated for the Floor of Parliament and ask for my views before proceeding,” he added.
Prof. Latigo appealed to fellow politicians to keep that precedent of humility and always be able to listen to each other. He added that the lives of great men are celebrated not by sounding trumpets but by the deeds and legacies they have left behind.
Hon. David Guma Gumisiriza (NRM, Ibanda North) said the late Prime Minister was eloquent, intelligent, friendly and amiable.
“He would come and dine with us in the restaurant of Parliament; he would always rally his Front Bench members – the Ministers, to attend plenary sessions,” he added.
Hon. Abdu Katuntu (FDC, Bugweri County) added that he had an encounter with Prof. Nsibambi who gave him wise counsel and changed his approach towards politics.
Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi (Indep, Kyadondo East) said that Prof. Nsibambi was a decent and exemplary statesman who should be emulated.
“He was never corrupt; always kept his word; had resolve, was never power hungry and respected everyone in their various capacities,” Kyagulanyi noted.
He said Prof. Nsibambi was a stickler for time, discipline and hard work therefore changing the work ethic in the public service and making sure salaries are paid on time. His legacy, he added, should leave on.
Hon. Jimmy Akena (UPC, Lira Municipality) said his first encounter was when he intended to embarrass the government on the neglect of internally displaced persons living in camps.
“I was advised by the current Vice-President, Edward Ssekandi, to talk to the Prime Minister then, Prof. Nsibambi, who engaged me in a dialogue that was harmonious and saw us successfully resolve the impasse in northern Uganda,” Akena said.
Nsibambi served in various capacities of responsibility, for instance, the Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences in Makerere; the Minister of Public Service, the Minister of Education and Sports and finally as the Prime Minister.
The cause of death of Prof. Nsibambi, according to a post-mortem report read by the Prime Minister, was a blood clot in his lungs. He will be buried on Tuesday, 4 May 2019 at his ancestral home in Buloba, Wakiso District.
Those who worked with him either in Cabinet, Parliament and Makerere University eulogized him as an instrumental figure who was incorruptible, open minded government official who spoke his mind no matter what.
They also said he was instrumental in harmonization of salaries at Makerere University, restoration of kingdoms and bridging the gap between war veterans and the academia.
Former Vice President Specioza Wandera Kazibwe described the late Nsibambi as an open minded person who contributed greatly to the growth of the country.
Kazibwe said she first got to know the late Nsibambi in 1970s while a student leader at Makerere University.
“By the time, he joined government, I already knew him. He was a very open minded person. He would say what he believed no matter what. In a Cabinet, as a Vice President, I had a very resourceful person to rely since I was a surgeon and he was an administrator,” Kazibwe remembered.
Kazibwe thanked the NRM Party for according him an opportunity to serve the country and hoped that many leaders will emulate his example and serve the country unselfishly.
Prof. George Mondo Kagonyera former Chancellor of Makerere University, described the late Nsibambi as an incorruptible person who never compromised on his principals.
“For years I worked with him, I never heard that he got money from anybody for any favors. This is a lesson to Ugandans that you can serve your country diligently without involving yourself in any malpractices. Secondly, he followed all the rules and regulations. You would never find him off the law,” he said.
Former minister of Information and Technology Communication Aggrey Owori said the Late Nsibambi was a man of integrity, who never depended on anyone’s support to lead.
“He was not afraid to speak his mind, unfortunately some of us think we should please the government or the electorate but Apollo was different. That explains why he was the longest serving Prime Minister,” he said.
Dr.Eng Badru Kiggundu remembered the late as a unique, super leader, father, reliable and exemplary leader. “I hope many will learn from his legacy,” he said.
Veteran Politician and former IGG Augustine Ruzindana, said, “He did his part exceptionally well and all public officers and politicians should emulate him.”
Aggrey Owori says the late Prof.Nsibambi was a man of integrity, he never depended on anyone’s support to lead this nation, few people in this country have performed as well as he did. He was not afraid to speak his mind, unfortunately some of us think we should please the government or the electorate but Apollo was indifferent to both conditions, where the government was amiss he would correct it. Am glad it has been recorded in this country that he is the longest serving Prime Minister and he led diligently.
Wamala Katumba described late Prof.Nsibambi as a teacher both in and out of class; he had a lot for us to learn from. He had virtues and values good for others to emulate, he was a very organized person. He loved this nation, i never saw him at any one time promoting ethnicity or tribalism or religion, he promoted nationalism. Much as he loved his kingdom, he never used it as a mechanism to divide this country; he was always working towards unity. He was dedicated to his work and that should be a lesson to us all, once we are given a responsibility, do it with all your heart. Without forgetting his great time management skills. He would always be offended if planned to meet at certain time and you came in even fifteen minutes late and that’s how he was able to execute his duties well, something many of us lack.
Prof. Apollo Nsibambi who served as a leader of government business died on Monday at his home in Lungujja, Mengo at the age of 78. He will be buried on Tuesday next week.