The greatest injustice you can commit against Football Kenya Federation (FKF) President Nick Mwendwa, is to place a microphone in front of him.
It is not uncommon for the 41-year old to put a foot in his mouth, as he did recently during an interview, when he (President of Kenyan Football) emphatically made the point that our country has a dearth of football talent and that it did not matter whom he hired to the position of National Team Head Coach, the result would almost always be catastrophic.
Mwendwa said this following the National outrage and vilification for signing Turkish tactician Engin Firat on a mere 2-month contract. Firat’s only other known coaching accomplishment has been as the Coach for the Moldovan National team, where he lost 9 and drew 2 of the 11 matches while he was in charge.
Harambee Stars would immediately after this appointment and tutelage by this coach be annihilated 6-0 on aggregate by Mali, bringing our much-touted FIFA World Cup qualification bid to a screeching halt.
It was against the backdrop of this disaster that Mwendwa would draw the ire of the entire Nation by decrying our lack of talent yet he has the singular responsibility of identifying, nurturing and unleashing it on our behalf.
It also showed that he is a President of an organization but somehow does not believe in his own product, and if only Kenya were a rational country, Nick would have been forced to resign or sacked by stakeholders for running his mouth stupidly or for his dismal performance.
But this is Kenya, which is in Africa, where the impossible is possible.
But what is it about Nick that appears to rankle everyone around him, except (of course) for those who benefit from association with him.
Well for starters, he overcompensates his evidently shallow understanding of football by talking excessively in the media, where he gives off the very unattractive vibe of insecurity, being unsure of himself and it often feels as though he is trying (poorly) to pull the wool over our eyes.
If you compare him to young CEO’s like James Mworia at Centum, who took over that position at a much younger age than Nick became FKF President, yet Mworia handles an asset portfolio running into hundreds of billions of shillings, you notice that he exudes a self-assured, self-confident and controlled demeanor.
Moreover, Nick also started his tenure in 2016 on a very poor note.
Immediately he took over the reins at Kandanda House (Kasarani), he ran two parallel agenda, the first one being to get his team (Kariobangi Sharks – at the time playing in the 1st Division) promoted to the money-spinning Kenyan Premier League (KPL), which at the time was an independent cash-rich company.
He did this through a series of weirdly crazy decisions in match official’s allocations
Joining the KPL allowed Nick a seat on its influential decision-making board while simultaneously shifting the financial burden of funding his club from himself and onto the annual grants from commercial deals, and distributed by KPL to all its members.
However, Nick would soon overplay his hand when he attempted to wrestle the KPL away from the clubs and into the management of the FKF Board of his cronies and praise-singers.
When he attempted to insinuate FIFA and CAF provisions about the management of the leagues into this conversation, he gave the KPL Broadcast rights holders Supersport the legal loophole they so desperately needed in order to jump out of a 5-year contract, barely a year after it had been signed.
Two years later, the KPL title sponsors, betting behemoth Sportpesa would also withdraw from the league as well as its sponsorship of two footballing giants Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards.
Today, the FKF-PL is a shadow of its former self, starved of sponsorship and with a few of its former clubs having died a natural death including Muhoroni and Western Stima.
Immediately upon taking over as FKF President, Nick would ostensibly make his intentions for Kenyan football known, when he appointed his personal friend and head coach of his football team – the uninspiring Stanley Okumbi – as National team head coach.
The unsuitability of Okumbi, both technically and tactically soon became abundantly clear and he would be replaced by the high flying Francis Kimanzi for a spell. Eventually, Jacob “Ghost” Mulee would find his way into the team for a while too before exiting stage quietly to return to his early morning show on Radio Jambo, only to be replaced by Firat.
Seemingly unable to help himself, Nick would find himself embroiled in another mega-scandal when he entered into a deal to procure an outside broadcasting van for the federation, on the pretext that it could be used to produce local matches on one hand and be leased out to produce other events, for income generation and sustenance.
This OB Van had been part of the fleet operated by Supersport during their Kenyan misadventure.
On paper, perfect. On the ground, utter balderdash!
Nick took money earmarked for the Kenyan people – a whopping $1.25 million, regardless of whether it was from FIFA or CAF, and sunk it into a UK company, which immediately went under upon receiving the money.
The van, initially parked at Kandanda House (Kasarani) was soon repossessed and driven back to Supersport offices at Jamhuri Park. Just like that, Ksh. 125 million of Kenyans money disappeared like a fart in the wind, and Nick has obstinately refused to give rational answers or an explanation, preferring instead to treat Kenyans like a bunch of juveniles.
A lot of the questions surrounding the disappearance of these funds revolve around the shadowy Congolese-cum-Swiss CAF Secretary General Veron Mosengo-Omba who at the time was in charge of FIFA affairs in Africa and Caribbean and who ought to have insisted on due diligence of the UK company and the veracity of claims in the purchase agreement.
The current storm between FKF and Ministry of Sports was triggered by a ruling of the High Court which cleared the path for an in-depth investigation into the financial affairs of the FKF and in the process denying a request for a permanent injunction barring Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) and Office of Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) from moving against FKF and Mwendwa.
This followed a complaint from journalist Milton Nyakundi to the Bank Fraud Investigation Unit (BFIU) after it was discovered that Nick had transferred millions of shillings from FKF accounts to his personal bank accounts, amounts totaling upwards Ksh. 26 million between January 2019 and June 2020.
Justice J.A. Makau in his ruling dismissed Nick’s case, terming it premature, speculative and without merit.
Separately, the Auditor General in his report for 2018/2019 had flagged Ksh. 11 million paid from FKF accounts to Nick without proper documentation.
These monies had come from the lump sum of close to Ksh. 250 million grant by Government to FKF to arrange for camps and other logistics related to Harambee Stars participation in AFCON 2019 in Egypt.
Some of the funds disbursed from Nick’s personal account were as follows:
- Anthony Makau: Ksh. 500,000/-
- Micheal Ouma: Ksh. 1,700,000/-
- Mureithi Nabea: 500,000/-
- Doris Petra: 500,000/-
- Chirs Amimo: 1,600,000/-
- Gilbert Wandera: 200,000/-
Even among the members of the FKF NEC, Mwendwa has always routinely played favorites to some while sidelining others. This above list shows that then Nairobi NEC member Chris Amimo and his Branch Chairman Micheal Majua Ouma would receive the lion’s share of these disbursements.
Ouma is a former councilor in the defunct NCC and represented Kariobangi North Ward, the citadel of Mwendwa’s team Kariobangi Sharks and the key to his electoral victory.
Eventually, Amimo was convinced to step aside for Ouma in the race for Nairobi NEC seat in 2020, and he thereafter returned to quietly manage his Ligi Ndogo outfit.
Anthony Makau, from Mwendwa’s own village in the lower Eastern zone and Mureithi Nabea from the Upper Eastern zone were both also favored with cash and trips to accompany National teams.
Missing from this list are NEC Members from Coast, Central, Nyanza, Western and Rift.
Following this ruling by the High Court, the sports Ministry gave the Sports Registrar her marching orders to undertake an inspection of the financial affairs of FKF in-keeping with provisions of Section 5(1) of the Sports Act.
The audit was to be completed within 2 weeks and the report handed to the Sports Minister by 2nd November 2021.
By 2nd November 2021, things were moving at a frenetic pace outside of the Sports Ministry when the Senate moved a motion barring Sports Cabinet Secretary Amb. (Dr) Amina Mohammed from taking any action against FKF before appearing in person before the relevant committee.
What has caused this panic and why has the Senate become involved?
In Kenya, politicians elected to either of the houses retain verbal clout in that they are able to question, harass or intimidate cabinet technocrats.
Mwendwa has therefore cunningly sped off to the Senate and in particular to abrasive and cantankerous members of the UDA wing, associated with DP William Ruto and who are known for provocative firebrand politics.
The two UDA Senators who unfortunately both sit on the Senate Labour and Social welfare committee are Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho) and Samson Cherargei (Nandi).
In a presser outside Parliament, Cherargei would make the most outrageous assertions, blaming the Sports Ministry for misappropriating funds by giving them to sports Federations.
Many associate UDA with the politics of graft sanitization after 9 years where anyone involved in graft would rush to them, and they would claim that they were being targeted for supporting a certain Presidential candidate.
They are also masters of propaganda, double speak and gas-lighting, but not much else.
Separately, Mwendwa has also received the support of his Kamba tribesman in the Senate committee particularly Senator Mutula Kilonzo (Kitui) who seems to argue that in a gangster economy like Kenya, why is his tribesman being targeted for misappropriating peanuts? It was “Junior” as he is popularly known, who first came up with the preposterous assertion that the Sports Minister Amb (Dr.) Amina Mohamed wished to disband FKF.
He also made long-winded claims about disbursements to FKF, disputing figures that have not been given and inserting concoctions from his fertile imagination.
Sigh, so much for the house of Mutula Kilonzo Snr, only a lesser son of a great sire remains, spreading his own brand of filth upon the faces of the Kenyan people. Puh!
Why the pre-emptive attacks on the CS and her Ministry, you may be wondering, the real problem is the fact that the audit will definitely unearth misappropriation of funds, and if Mwendwa (and it is highly likely)will be put to his defence in a court of law, chances are that he will face the music. If recent corruption cases are anything to go by, Mwendwa has every reason to be uneasy.
Former team Kenya charge d’affaires at Rio 2016 Olympics and longtime Tae Kwon Do official Stephen Soi was sentenced to 10 years in prison or fined ksh. 103 million on the one hand while his co-accused, former Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario was sentenced to 6 years in prison or a fine of Ksh. 3.6 million for misappropriation of funds during the 2016 Olympic Games that were riddled with disgusting level of financial impropriety.
Elsewhere, businessman Mukuria Ngamau was fined Ksh. 720 million or serve 27 years in prison for defrauding the youth fund of Ksh. 180 million.
Does Nick Mwendwa wish to take his chances with the Kenyan courts?
While Amb. Amina Mohammed is scheduled to appear before the Senate on 11th November 2021, Mwendwa has been bribing gullible journalists to spread the speculative fiction that the Government wishes to dissolve FKF and install a caretaker committee, which would automatically lead to a FIFA suspension. Amb. Mohamed, a longtime diplomat approaches issues pragmatically and soberly and such plans cannot be attributed to her yet.
Secondly, with a FIFA suspension hanging over this country like the sword of Damocles, she would also wish to take advice from high office, and when she does, it will not matter what FIFA says or does, Mwendwa’s goose will be cooked.
To be fair, Mwendwa has been asked on more than one occasion to account for all the monies given to him by the Government. In 2019, he led an onslaught against former Sports PS Kirimi Kaberia who had refused to release funds until proper accounting was done.
Mwendwa took to social media and paid hashtags to insult and ridicule Kaberia.
Eventually Kaberia buckled under the pressure and capitulated to Mwendwa’s demands as well as those of the other Sports Federations who genuinely needed support but who were unfortunately caught in the crossfire between FKF and Government.
Last week, after new Sports PS Joe Okudo told the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the Government had been in touch with FIFA and received support to carry out the audit of FKF, Mwendwa went absolutely bonkers.
Unable to control himself, he appeared on a KTN TV show –Zilizala Viwanjani – and took verbal liberties with Sports CS Amina Mohamed in a most disgusting and disturbing manner.
Today, all other Sports Federations have consciously refused to become embroiled in the fiasco surrounding FKF and the disbursement of funds from the Government. You see, none of the other Sports Federations have a deep pocketed and irredeemably corrupt mother body like FIFA, which stands perpetually ready to dispense funds hand-over-fist and averting scrutiny to its misappropriation, in return for votes at the FIFA congress.
So when these sports federations met last week, they were unequivocal in their support of government efforts for clean sports and willing at any time for an inspection of their books.
Why wouldn’t they?
Sadly, FIFA is a terrorist organization. They allow the entire future of a people to be stolen by a few Football Federation officials, and when the people’s representatives raise queries, FIFA uses these same regular people as pawns in their game versus Governments.
And you wonder why UEFA and others were willing to walk out of FIFA forever?