By Kampala Post Reporter
When the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) late last year guided media houses to broadcast live President Yoweri Museveni’s New Year’s address, the last thing one could image was someone losing a job. However, for the NBS TV chief news editor, John Baptist Imokola, it was his time to face the wrath of his boss-Kin Kariisa.
The live broadcast of the President’s address started a few minutes after 7PM and was meant to end at 10Pm, according to the statement that was issued by UCC.
Since the President’s address was presumed to consume the 9 to 10 O’clock hour, Imokola didn’t see reason to prepare a prime-time bulletin for that evening. He didn’t know that it would be a recipe for his axing.
Imokola had instead planned to stream live clips from the President’s address since he was apparently sure there would be no time for the bulletin.
“On that day, he (Imokola) counted on the Museveni speech thinking it would go up to 10PM as earlier announced. So, his plan was to have live links in different spots for people to comment on the speech,” said a source at nbs, adding: “Unfortunately (for Imokola) Museveni ended before 9, so, there was no preplanned story.”
Although the live links were a great idea, according to the source, they betrayed the man who resigned his lecturing job at Makerere University. Imokola was teaching students of Journalism & Communication.
“The links he banked on all failed.... like they jammed and they resorted to running adverts instead,” said the source.
This, according to the source that is familiar with the machinations at the Kamwokya-based television said was an opportunity for Kaliisa to throw Imokola under the bus. Kaliisa has for a long time been waiting for the slightest chance to embarrass the dark-skinned news editor.
Apparently, Imokola, also a former employee of the defunct WBS Television has since assuming his role as the news boss at NBS always harassed his juniors to the extent of suspending them over ‘small mistakes’.
“He (Imokola) kept rubbing some of his (Kaliisa) senior boys who would meet him and talk about their frustrations,” said the source.
The source however declined to cite to our reporter some of the incidents in which Imokola suspended some senior reporters.
Although the source said that Joyce Bagala, the former news editor at the Luganda station-Akaboozi is now acting in Imokola’s position, the source declined to reveal details why Imokola’s deputies were overlooked for the role.
Dalton Kaweesa and Abubaker Tyaba have been deputizing Imokola and one of them was therefore expected to take up the position in his two-week suspension which many believe will be the last blow.
“I don’t think he will come back. He has been bossing the newsroom, suspending people and now that he was suspended, he may feel embarrassed to come back,” said the source. Apparently, he was treating the reporters as students given his lecturing background.
According to our sources at NBS, there are mixed feelings over Imokola’s technical sacking after Kaliisa, the CEO preferred Bagala, a diploma holder from UMCAT. Most of the reporters and other editors are degree holders and there is a general feeling of discount. It goes without saying that some are happy that Imokola who was “tormenting” them may not return.
When contacted, Kaliisa said Imokola is not fired but was quick to refer our reporter to Joe Kigozi for further details.
“He is not fired. But for details you can contact Joe Kigozi our head of strategy,” said Kaliisa.
Kigozi was however unable to provide an explanation as he was driving, promising to talk to us later.