The former Serere County Member of Parliament Bishop Patrick Okabe has been described as a unifier and God-fearing servant.
Members of Parliament on Thursday eulogized the late Bishop Okabe, 64 who died alongside his wife Christine Okabe, and his driver during a road crash after a vehicle they were travelling in collided with a Kenyan-bound truck at Naboa in Budaka District along Mbale-Tirinyi highway on Monday 19, 2022.
The deceased’s remains were brought to Parliament at about 9:45 am with the casket draped in the black-yellow-red colour of the national flag and received by Speaker Anita Among accompanied by the Clerk to Parliament.
It was later wheeled into the lobby before being evacuated to the chambers for a tribute that kicked off at 12:00 pm that lasted for 3 hours and 40 minutes.
The special plenary sitting to pay tribute was attended by Members of Parliament, Government Ministers, religious leaders, friends, relatives, and family members. Robinah Nabbanja, the Prime Minister and Leader of Government Business moved a motion to pay tribute and described the late Okabe as a diligent leader who promoted women empowerment and upheld Christian values to transform the lives of ordinary Ugandans.
The Leader of Opposition Mathias Mpuuga in his tribute lauded Bishop Okabe for upholding the power of his constituents in Serere County and rallied the Government to reflect on current narrow road designs that have become a death trap amid the growing volume of traffic flows in the country.
Agnes Taaka the Bigiri District Woman Representative urged Parliament to make a resolution that requires all new highways that will be constructed should have at least four lanes that are separated to avoid drifting into lanes in times of accidents.
Speaker Among reiterated the need for the Ministry of Works and Transport to consider new road designs to enable the country to move away from single to double road carriages to avoid head-on collisions which primarily was the cause of legislator Bishop Okabe’s death.
However, in a twist of events, Elijah Okupa, the Kasilo County Member of Parliament voiced a concern from the deceased’s family saying the Government through the Ministry of Internal Affairs should investigate circumstances surrounding the accident that claimed the legislator’s life and report their findings as soon as possible.
Okupa noted that at the time of the accident, Okabe, who was en route to Entebbe Airport to fly with his wife to the USA were to join their daughters for the festive celebrations before later joining the sons in Australia and had reportedly carried over 70 million Shillings in the car which has never been declared by the police.
Okabe was the founding Bishop of the Mbale City-based Impact Ministries, proprietor of Faith FM, a Christian radio station, and founder of Rhema High School in neighbouring Soroti City in the Teso sub-region.
He was the second legislator to die in 2022 following Speaker Jacob L’Okori Oulanyah’s death. He was also the Omoro County Member of Parliament who succumbed to cancer while undergoing treatment in Seattle, USA in March after just nine months in office.
He served as the Chairperson of the Teso Parliamentary Group in the 10th Parliament and at the time of his death, he was a member of the Public Accountability Committee – PAC Central, Public Service, and Local Government Committee and Appointments Committees of the 11th Parliament.
Okabe’s body left Parliament at 4:00 pm for Mbale City where an overnight prayer and vigil will later be conducted at his Impact Church. On Friday 23rd, his body will leave Mbale City for Serere District where a Special District Council Meeting will be conducted to eulogize him further.
Okabe, who is survived by five children, will be laid to rest on Saturday, December 24, 2022, at 10:00 am at his ancestral home Oburin Ward, Ochapa Town Council in Serere District.