Last updated 8 months ago | By Robin Toskin
Former Principal Secretary returns in same ministry but different docket as Amb. Kaberia heads to Mining and Petroleum post.
Joe Okudo returns to the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage in the same capacity where he once worked as PS for Culture and Heritage following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s reshuffle of his Cabinet yesterday.
This time, however, the studious Okudo will step up to the rough and tumble of sports as the Principal Secretary where his predecessor Amb. Kirimi Kaberia clashed almost on a weekly basis with associations over funding.
Kaberia has been appointed to the somewhat noiseless Mining and Petroleum ministry as Okudo returns from Tourism docket.
And no less a person than immediate former Commissioner for Sport Gordon Oluoch, now retired, has outlined the enormous task awaiting Okudo borne out of what he termed as “systematic disregard for technical people within the ministry.”
His appointment, like what the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) said in their welcoming note as coming at ‘a crucial time’ -- given there are only 191 days left to the Tokyo Olympics, Okudo will be confronted by internal and external competing forces keen to bite a piece of the pie at the ministry.
“The out-going PS (Kaberia) isolated technical people at the ministry and relied more on external personnel, for instance, when constituting committees to oversee the stadia project, Safari Rally WRC Project, the World Athletics Under 20 Committees and Tokyo Olympics working groups,” Oluoch said yesterday.
“The upshot is that staff morale is at an all-time low and has resulted in messed up internal processes which has rubbed sports federations the wrong way,” Oluoch added.
Kaberia, in his interview with Standard Sports while at the Sports docket, said he had stepped on the toes of cartels by putting in place stringent measures for any federation to qualify for funding in line with the Sports Fund regulations.
“I sought to streamline the funding mechanism in line with the Sports Act and asked for proper accounting. Little did I know I had stepped on a minefield. I chose to stand on the side of the law. The few federations that complied had no problem accessing government funds,” Kaberia said at the time.
However, Oluoch who worked at the Ministry for 14 years as the Commission for Sports, said Okudo will inherit a polarised system where government technocrats are at loggerheads with elected officials.
“His predecessor underestimated the importance sports fraternity attached to the facilities as promised by the Jubilee Government. I hope Okudo will not make the same mistake,” Oluoch said.
“Also, since the Sports Act 2013 came into force, no sports officers have been recruited to Sports Kenya as demanded by the act thus leaving the ministry inadequate,” he said.
One of the headaches Kaberia inherited was the perennial non-payment or late disbursement of allowances for national teams for which he ensured it was done before teams left international assignments. The pilot test was the Doha World Athletics September last year, which was a resounding success. Okudo will, therefore, have to keep up with the arrangement for the Tokyo Olympics and the World Athletics Under-20 Championships.
His in-tray, however, is overflowing for he will have to ensure a smooth electoral process at Football Kenya Federation, which is already mired in controversy.
Harambee Stars are also in danger of missing out on the 2022 World Cup qualifiers unless Kenya/FKF pays former coach Adel Amrouche Sh106million before March. Another pending bill for FKF is Sh55million the Sports Disputes Tribunal ruled in favour of another former Harambee Stars coach Bobby Williamson.
His predecessor Kaberia was locked in a standoff with FKF over the accounting of Sh244million for the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt last June and all eyes with be on Okudo to settle the matter one way or the other.
Kenya Rugby Union also had a tiff with Kaberia over the release of Sh94million, which the Union says had been approved but not disbursed.
Joe Okudo’s bursting in-tray
- Sort out the stand-off between Ministry with sports federations over funding by the National Sports Fund
- Reconnect the Sports Act 2013 with the purpose it was intended
- Broken down sports infrastructure headlined by closure of Nyayo National Stadium, City Stadium and many others around the country. Kasarani Stadium will soon be closed to prepared for the World Athletics Under-20 Championships
- Deliver a perfect return of the World Rally Championship status for the Safari Rally if only to justify Government’s investment of over Sh500million shillings in the project.
- Justify Government’s injection of over Sh250million on Kenya Open Golf while other federations cannot access even a measly Sh1million
- Deliver a creditable World Athletics Under-20 Championship
- A smooth 2020 Tokyo Olympics devoid of the shame that was 2016 Rio Olympics
- Ensure FKF elections beat the February 10 deadline without inviting the wrath of world football body, Fifa
- Ensure FKF accounts to the public Sh244million it spent at the Africa Cup of Nations
- Ensure the Sh106million owed to Adel Amrouche does not toss Harambee Stars out the 2022 Fifa World Cup
- Hold FKF to account, to the public, for Sh125million it paid out to a British company moments before it went into receivership for an OB yet delivered
- Rid Kenyan Athletics of drug cheats