Nick Mwendwa is poised to retain his seat, for four more years, as the president of the Football Kenya Federation (FKF), unopposed. So is his deputy, Doris Petra.
His would be challengers in the December 7, 2019 election, namely Sam Nyamweya, Moses Akaranga, Alex Ole Magelo and Steve Mburu failed to return their nomination papers to the FKF’s Electoral Board by Wednesday evening deadline.
Nyamweya, a former president, who was famed for running Kenyan football to its death bed, and Ole Magelo, a former AFC Leopards chairman turned politician, moved to the High Court and the Sports Disputes Tribunal to challenge the process – citing, among other things, conflict of interest in the composition of the board.
“We will hand over the papers after the court and tribunal have decided on the matter,” said Nyamweya. “We are firmly in the race and the insinuation that we are not is misleading to our supporters,” he added.
The High Court in its wisdom did not halt the nomination process, but gave a conservatory order stating that the nominations “shall not be deemed to be valid until the hearing and determination of this matter.” The case will be heard on November 5, 2019.
But despite the issues raised by the other aspirants, most of which were overtaken by time and events, I’m strongly convinced that Nick deserved better challengers, not people in whose hands Kenyan football totally collapsed.
Under Nyamweya, who was ousted by Nick in a sweeping election in 2016, football went the dogs. Actually, the current administration spent the better part of the first term cleaning Nyamweya’s mess of so many years.
Nyamweya pocketed FKF, it was no longer an institution, but a personal property. The body had no proper physical address, leave alone a functional secretariat, the FIFA Goal Project, Kandanda House at Kasarani, that was to host the offices of the federation was abandoned to rot away, till Nick came on board and revamped it.
It was during Nyamweya’s tenure that Kenyans literally forgot the national team, Harambee Stars. Tired of how the players were being treated, while on national duty and the failure to qualify for major tournaments, fans simply shifted their attention to European football.
In his final days as the president, Nyamweya caused a national outrage as Stars almost failed to travel to Cape Verde for a World Cup qualifier return match, even after the government had released funding. The team reached Praia hours to kick-off, a board a scary looking chartered plane, which lacked food. In the end the players had no time for warm-up and eventually lost and got knocked out of the campaign.
Thanks to Nyamweya’s messy regime, it has become very hard to fairly judge Nick’s first term of office as he almost entirely used it to put in place the very basics of football administration amidst lack of support and goodwill from corporates, who had long lost interest in Kenyan football.
Still, Nick records a few successes in his short stay, the biggest according to me being restoration of order in Kenyan football. Harambee Stars also qualified for the AFCON for the first time in 15 years under his watch, you can’t take that from him. Women football has also been on the rise despite challengers and the Harambee Starlets are presently on course to qualifying for the 2020 Japan Olympics.
Nyamweya getting another another chance at the highest office of football in the country would therefore be an insult to dreams of many talented young boys and girls, who hope to make a career out of the game.
Magelo on the other hand left football for elective politics, which he succeeded in after being elected speaker of the Nairobi County Assembly. However, he failed to defend his seat in the following elections.
With the biting cold, Magelo, who had a fair stint as the chairman of AFC Leopards, now again wants to warm-up in football, probably as he eyes another shot at politics in 2022. This is certainly not what we want for our football.
The same can be said of Moses Akaranga, the immediate former Vihiga County governor, who was floored in the last general elections after a single term of office.
Long gone are the days politicians used football as a springboard to national politics. Football should be run by professionals and people who are fully dedicated to it. This will give confidence to sponsors to invest their money in the game.
Finally, it must be noted that the FKF Electoral code was sent to FIFA, the world’s football governing body and CAF, the continental football body for approval and was adopted through an AGM. Enough room was given for any disputes arising. Nyamweya and group must therefore be asked where they have been throughout the process, and why they are using the ordinary courts to solve football matters against the FIFA rules.