The State of the Nation is the address presented by the President of a Country annually as a report on the Condition of the nation. The President is also supposed to use the same opportunity to outline the legislative agenda for which he needs the cooperation of Parliament and the national priorities.

The practice was copied from the monarchies which annually had what is commonly referred to as the Speech from the throne which id delivered by the Queen or King every year. In Britain this speech is called “HER MAJESTY’S MOST GRACIOUS SPEECH”. In America President Thomas Jeffersonin in 1801 discontinued the practice of delivering the address in person, regarding it as too monarchical and just a ritual. Instead, the address was written and then sent to Congress to be read by a clerk until 1913 when President Woodrow Wilson re-established the practice despite some initial controversy. However, there have been exceptions to this rule.

Presidents during the latter half of the 20th century have sent written State of the Union addresses. The last President to do this was Jimmy Carter 1981.

In Uganda the President is required to deliver the State of the Nation Address to Parliament under Article 101 of the Constitution. He is heard in silence and Members only get to discuss this speech months later.

I find a lot of merit in the Thomas Jefferson approach that why today I haven’t attended Parliament. First of all its a very boring session which cost Ugandans alot of money . This particular day Parliament sits in the Conference centre of Serena hotel, all Government offices basically remain closed that day, invitations are extended to a number of dignatories, which is just a wastage of both time and resources.The Old and tired NRM leaders have turned the event into “a sleeping Session”. My suggestion is that we do away with this ritual and adopt the Thomas Jefferson stlye.

Betty Nambooze is the Member of Parliament for Mukono Municipality.

 

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