If it takes KDF to deliver state of the art stadiums for sports, then so be it

Sports CS Ababu Namwamba

Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba (centre) hands over the stadiums renovation project to Defence Principal Secretary Peter Mariru (left) as Sports Principal Secretary looks on at Nyayo National Stadium on September 19, 2023. 

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Ababu “Smart” explained that this is because the Kenya Defence Forces is a unit that has been tried and tested, and can be trusted to deliver the facilities in a timely and effective way.

It’s quite unusual, the sight of a sitting Cabinet Secretary explaining in public that another ministry will be in charge of the work he should actually be spearheading.

But that is what happened earlier this week, when Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba announced grand plans for the rebuilding of three stadiums in Nairobi estimated to cost billions, but, wait for it…the work will be led entirely by the Ministry of Defence.

Ababu “Smart” explained that this is because the Kenya Defence Forces is a unit that has been tried and tested, and can be trusted to deliver the facilities in a timely and effective way.

He said it with a witchfinder’s authority, and the explanation did sound genuine, except for the little fact that there is precedent.

Remember when Major General Mohamed Badi was imposed as the “not-governor” of Nairobi and tasked with fixing the capital city when the county was reeling from the pendulous management style of Governor Mike Sonko?

What about that time when Major General (Rtd) Gordon Kihalangwa was named Principal Secretary, State Department of Immigration, when corruption was rife in that department and nothing was working?

Remember also the transfer of the ailing Kenya Meat Commission from the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry to the Kenya Defence Forces, which so jolted the public attention that Senators raised alarm over what they termed as a militarisation of public institutions by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Kenyatta went ahead and placed all government airplanes and helicopters under military management of the elite Kenya Air Force.

The reason these decisions were made is simple. In all these instances the military was brought in because there was absolutely no other way those counties or ministries in question could achieve growth.

It was an elaborate demonstration of no confidence in the leaders in question. The current situation is no different.

In an NTV interview on Monday, the sports CS presented himself as a competent, sober and impartial leader. But if that is so, why is the ministry of defence building sports stadiums instead of staying in the barracks? The far more useful question is, what’s failing within the sports department?

It has been so intoxicating to marvel at, analyse and psychoanalyse the strengths of the various occupants of the Sports Ministry and get our hopes up year after year only to be rewarded with disappointment.

The government seems to have finally found this out, although President Kenyatta seemed to have been first to discover that the military possesses certain traits that are almost alien to the public service in Kenya.

Where public servants are associated more with graft, personal aggrandisement, ineptitude and impunity, military personnel are accustomed to a controlled and almost robotic way of executing their duty.

They spend more time planning and implement assignments with mathematical precision. We all hope that their strict fidelity to authority, obedience to command and respect for rank will deliver for us the state of the art stadiums in two years as has  been promised.