NOCK elections are on

By Gilbert Wandera: Friday, September 29th 2017 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Olympics
Interim NOCK Committee officials Waithaka Kioni, Andrew Mudibo and Shadrack Maluki during a press conference in Nairobi last year. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Finally, the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) elections will go on today after dragging for almost eight months.

The exercise was stopped by a court order in May and it was not until the order was lifted two months ago that preparations began for a new one.

But even today’s exercise is not without controversy. Five associations - Kenya Taekwondo Federation (KTF), Kenya Cycling Federation (KCF), Kenya Weightlifting, Badminton Kenya and Kenya Rowing and Canoe Association are unlikely to take part in the process, which could delay today’s process.

The five are involved in wrangles, with various factions claiming to be bona fide officials.

Their fate is therefore expected to be decided before the elections take place and in a process that could divide the general assembly. Allowing the five to take part could prove catastrophic for some candidates, the same way as blocking them.

Apart from the five associations, the Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD), who are handling the process, have also blocked some candidates.

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Among those blocked are current NOCK deputy treasurer Stephen Soi who has however vowed to take part in the elections. Soi has been charged over last year’s Rio Olympic games fiasco and this could have locked him out as the matter has not been concluded.

Aside from the controversy, today’s elections could mark the beginning of a new era at NOCK, with fresh leadership elected. Outgoing chairman Kipchoge Keino is not contesting and is expected to hand over the mantle to a new generation.

In the absence of Keino, legend Paul Tergat is tipped to easily take over the mantle. Until two weeks ago, Tergat was unchallenged for the top post but the late entry of  Patrick Karuga Muya is unlikely to change anything.

Apart from being unknown, Muya has to convince the general assembly to allow him to contest.

Should he take over, Tergat has a full tray as he starts four years at the helm of the country’s Olympic movement.

On Tergat’s to-do list is a clean-up of Nock’s image, which has over the years been tainted by scandals.

The most recent scandal came after the Rio Olympic games when athletes complained of being mistreated by officials.

For that mess, various NOCK officials have been arraigned in court to answer charges among them theft of uniforns and money meant for athletes.

Some of the scandals have been going on for many years but things boiled over this time around due to media scrutiny.

The Rio scandal remains the biggest stain on NOCK that Tergat has to clean up in order to return the lost good will with another championships less than four years away.

The five-time world-cross country champion must also help to bring transparency.