Africa-Press – Uganda. Charles Albert Oduman, who represented Bukedea for one term in the 8th Parliament, was one of the keynote speakers at the ‘Life After Parliament’ seminar at Parliament on April 29 and 30. In his speech, he opened up about life after Parliament. Esther Oluka brings you some of the excerpts.
“I was here for one term in the 8th Parliament, and, as it is always, when one exits this place, there are things you struggle with.
Before I came to Parliament, I had resigned from a job in order to come and deal with issues I was very passionate about, including matters of accountability. So, for the last 10 years since I left the House in 2011, have personally been enriching and humbling. I, therefore, want to share some of those experiences and how I tried to navigate and turn around the terrain to remain who and what I am today.
I want us to first address the question of why one should be concerned about one’s exit as an MP. Many people leave jobs and what do they go through? There are exit interviews, counselling sessions, and so, this (seminar) is not any different. The departure from Parliament is very much different from that of any other job. Why? In my view, it is because the higher you go, the harder the fall might be. You see, when someone becomes an MP, it is a sudden elevation in many ways, including social profile, income, privileges. And so, when time comes to leave, it means a direct reversal of this.
So, our exit is totally different in this capacity and I want to assure you that when you leave this place, prospective employers are unlikely to view you very favourably compared to other candidates because you have been an MP. They will wonder… ‘how can we have a former MP amid us?’ So, in terms of competition for employment opportunities out there, just know you have a discount in terms of chances. And so the impact and adjustment that you have to go through can be painful, challenging and stressful.
I know of two former MPs in the 8th Parliament who exited very badly. They were my personal friends. One of them was duped by fake mercury dealers on the 7th Street in Kampala. He was lured into availing money to make that deal progress. He withdrew his emoluments attained in his five-year term at Parliament and invested it in the deal. Just a month or two into the deal, his partners died in a road accident. [And that meant end of the story, the money went just like that].
For such reasons, I recommend that exit from Parliament should also be a subject taught to new MPs such that as they join the House, they should also be reminded there will be an exit. I know of a former MP in the 8th Parliament who, after leaving the House, settled for a job at a company where he was being paid Shs100,000 per month. What was the aim? The aim was for him to have a base, an address.
These are the realities of being outside of Parliament. The good news I have brought here from my 10 years’ experience (away from Parliament) is that there is life outside Parliament. There will be life if you do three things. One, and the most important, is that you need to accept the reality. Do not fight the situation. If it has come, it is there and real. You must confront it as a brave soldier. Someone said acceptance is the recognition of the truth of the way things are in the moment. This is not the same as losing an election. (Personally), I didn’t lose the election. I won but refused to go to court. So, in my personal perspective, I would rather let it be because it was not about me, rather it was about the people. So, accept the situation and the rest will fall in line. If you accept it, then your landing in the world outside the House will be much softer.
However, I don’t want you to wallow in self-pity. Do not accept sympathy by allowing people to tell you sorry, for instance, for losing an election. I refuse that. I don’t want sympathy! Don’t even accept people to call you ‘former honourable.’ Reject that and correct them right there and then. You remain an honourable MP throughout your life. Do not forget to give your colleague who is replacing you space. Respect them as the sitting MPs. Spend your time recovering and reorganising yourself if you want to make it back.
Secondly, recollect and ask yourself; ‘what do I have? What have I got?’ Refurbish your tool-box in terms of knowledge, skills, and experience. The Speaker (of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga) has been saying you have been doing incredible work in committees. That experience can even sell you internationally.
Thirdly, make a move. Reposition yourself using that tool box. Reposition yourself as a person and as a member of society. It begins with you. You must be strong, healthy and must have some money. So, at the very first sphere, you need to deal with matters of money and finances. Reorganise your finances.
Finally, if you have that tool box and no one knows you have spanners, you are as good as dead. Let everybody know that you have a useful tool box. Refurbish your profile, refurbish your CV [curricula vitae]. Personally, it was because of this that I was able to land a job with an eight figure salary from 2013 to 2020.
Overall, organise yourself so that you participate in the public sphere, and don’t fear any aspect of failing because it is part of learning.”
The most significant of Parliament’s functions is to pass laws which govern the country. Through the various parliamentary committees, Parliament scrutinises government programmes. The fiscal issues of the government, such as taxation and loans need the sanction of the Parliament, after appropriate debate.
Background…About Mr Charles Albert Oduman
Mr Oduman received national attention during his five years in Parliament and work on Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.
After Parliament, Mr Oduman served for two years as an economic advisor to the Office of the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. He also served with USAID in development programming. In 2012, Mr Oduman was appointed chairman of then newly-formed Capital City Public Accounts Committee.