By Najib Mulema
Ugandans always complain about President Museveni’s failure to swing the axe on officials who mess up with the running of government. It is common to hear words that the president is “tolerant”, “patient”, “fatherly” etc, when describing his laxity to deal with corrupt or incompetent government workers. However, on Wednesday it was reported that Dr.Stephen Isabalija had been relieved of his duties from the position of Permanent Secretary at the sensitive Ministry of Energy, it first sounded like a bad evening joke.
Although Isabalija told media nosy inquirers that he has not heard about such developments, reports from sources close to the appointing authority confirmed the sacking and if Isabalija is not aware, he will know very soon.
Reliable sources have told WatchdogUganda that the youthful permanent secretary was fired after reports reached the president that he was involved in “corruption practices”. No criminal case however has been brought to Dr Isabalija which still leaves such allegations as superfluous.
However, it will go down in history that Dr Isabalija is one of the shortest serving Permanent Secretaries, who unfortunately left unceremoniously.
The academic has been in office for less than a year after replacing long serving PS Kaliisa Kabagambe in November last year. Isabalija has been a couple of weeks earlier been fired from Victoria University where he was vice chancellor. He is one of the youngest Permanent Secretaries in the country.
Born in Fort Portal, Kabarole District, in 1976 (41 years), Isabalija attended Kinyamasika Demonstration School, in Fort Portal for his elementary school. For his O-Level education, he attended St. Leo’s College Kyegobe, also in Fort Portal before he joined Makerere College School, in Kampala for his A-Level studies. From 1996 until 1998, he attended Nakawa College of Business Studies, the name of the institution that was the precursor of Makerere University Business School (MUBS). In 1997, he enrolled in the Bachelor of Commerce degree program at the main campus of Makerere University, graduating in 2001.
For one year in 1998, he juggled degree classes at Makerere and diploma classes at Nakawa. Between 2002 and 2004, he studied for the degree of Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Finance and Accounting, at Makerere University, Main Campus. His degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Public Policy (International Development), was obtained in 2011, from Southern University, in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States.
He lectured in the Faculty of Management Makerere University Business School for eight (8) years, with several publications in international Journals and conferences in areas of policy, information technology and entrepreneurship, was a Facilitator East and Southern Management Institute (ESAMI) in Policy analysis Project Management, Management of Change, Strategic Management, Creativity and Innovation, entrepreneurship, Financial Management organizational behavior ,Business Administration, Human resource management and General Management. Dr. Isabalija also served as the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL).
Dr. Isabalija, a management professional, accountant, academic and administrator served as the Vice Chancellor of Victoria University since September 2013 until 2016, when he was fired from Kampala road based University for unprofessional conduct after he led his staff to strike that froze business at the university.
Hardly a month in his new office as a permanent secretary, it is alleged that Dr Isabalija were not in good terms with the all powerful Secretary to the Treasury, Keith Muhakanizi. It is not clear what the two men were fighting over, but, commentators say Isabalija could have failed to as Muhakanizi wants, which led to friction. The fight between the two, resulted into a directive calling the Auditor General to investigate Isabalija’s work and holes amounting to billions of shillings were found in his implementing two power dams—the 600MW Karuma and the 185 MW Isimba which has landed the PS in trouble.