What you need to know:
- On February 1, the government declared that current Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa is ineligible to vie for a third term in this year’s football polls
- Even former President Mwai Kibaki exited gracefully and did not seek to extend his term after the promulgation of the New Constitution in 2010
- Even if his had been an outstanding run, which it has not, there is always a natural point of closure to everything
Is it wrong to kick a person who’s down? What about someone who has overseen such chaos in your favourite sport and brought it to its knees? As we ponder on this, let us all agree that respect for the rule of law, whether the Sports Act, or the Kenyan Constitution, is paramount.
On February 1, the government declared that current Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa is ineligible to vie for a third term in this year’s football polls. There may be kind words from some quarters for the man, but not from me. He has made a mess of millions of young Kenyan footballers’ careers and should not wait for anyone, much less the Sports Registrar, to point out the obvious fact that he needs to walk away.
The honourable thing for him to declare that he is deserting the ship he helped sink. Yet he is bidding his time, planning to capitalise on a technicality that could allow him to be eligible for a third term, since the new FKF constitution that includes the matter of term limits took effect in 2020.
Even former President Mwai Kibaki exited gracefully and did not seek to extend his term after the promulgation of the New Constitution in 2010. Not that Mwendwa is in a mind to accept such a suggestion. But thankfully, the Sports Registrar, having dealt with this scenario many times over, is alert.
So, once again, these are troubled times for our country’s football. The notion of an administrator clinging to power way beyond the acceptable term limit, even if the public has to suppress deep anger and shake their heads in frustration every time his name comes up, is not tolerable. Picking an opportune moment to bow out is important because, in the current world, people have short memories.
I wish we could say that during his tenure, Mwendwa moved the right moves, adopted the right policies and took care of the right people. But then we would be confronted by the unvarnished truth, which says that under his tenure Kenyan football standards have sunk to unacceptable lows. He is pitied by his peers, and hated anew each month by everyone who moves closely within Kenyan football circles.
A legitimate argument could be made that Mwendwa has been a unifying force in Kenyan football. But he unified the country against himself, and by extension, against many of his National Executive Committee (NEC) members. Refer to the countrywide jubilation that greeted news of his arrest in 2021, and the subsequent yawn that followed his acquittal. Or just have a chat with present and past FKF employees who are now negotiating for full payment of their salaries during Mwendwa’s period of suspension, even though the said funds have already been released by Fifa.
Friday (Feb 10) marks eight years since Mwendwa first took power. The optimism we all had in 2016 has been replaced by great disappointment. The idea of another Mwendwa term is vomit-inducing. Even if his had been an outstanding run, which it has not, there is always a natural point of closure to everything. And if his acolytes aren’t telling him this, they are doing him no favours whatsoever.