MUTUOTA: Nyamweya – end of an era or an error?
The same Kasarani Indoor Stadium arena where Samson Keengu Nyamweya, known by most as Sam Nyamweya, entered in triumphant fashion as the first president of the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) four years ago pointedly served as the perfect stage of his ignominious exit from office on Wednesday afternoon.
At that venue on the night of October 28, 2011, he gave a resounding speech of hope for the country’s battered football as he ascend to the top seat on the back of a decade-long struggle that tore the game apart and left it in ruins.
Lest we forget, it was under his stewardship as the Secretary General of the defunct Kenya Football Federation (KFF) that Harambee Stars enjoyed highs of holding the mighty Nigeria in 1997 at the same stadium during the race for the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
In the intervening decade, Nyamweya fought to wrest back control of the country’s football at a time when KFF and rivals Football Kenya Limited fought to manage the game, leading to not less than three world body FIFA bans.
When the normalisation process of football was finally completed in 2011, he was elected into office on a platform of change and even though many had reservations about his leadership, all accepted the results and moved on, expecting a better day.
But soon after ‘Uncle Sam’ as his cheerleaders christened him took the helm he was back to his combative self, promptly fired Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno as Stars head coach and put in place the popular Francis Kimanzi in charge.
When this move backfired, out went Kimanzi and in came the experienced Frenchman, Henri Michel, who after a brief stint, left in a huff and slapped Kenya with a law suit, all this happening within the first year of his second coming.
Kenya briefly enjoyed a purple patch when James Nandwa led a largely second string side to the 2012 Cecafa finals and once again, Nyaweya doled out the popular card and put him in charge of the senior side that fell to Burundi in the CHAN qualifiers at the turn of 2013.
In February of that year, he went out and brought their former head coach, Adel Amrouche, a Belgian national and under his watch, Kenya made some positive steps at the 2014 World Cup qualifiers before the team won the Cecafa title in December.
Nine months later, Stars were staring at two years outside the international loop after tiny Lesotho, a nation many would struggle to pin point on the global map, held on to complete a 1-0 aggregate win in the second round of the AFCON qualifiers.
Nyamweya managed to chase most sponsors from the game, including local titans Safaricom, Airtel and East Africa Breweries not to mention international broadcasters SuperSport, MP and Silva and StarTimes as well as the Government.
At the end of his reign, no one was willing to give money to the game, perhaps informing the thought he had the power but no legitimacy to govern and consequently, despite another glowing farewell speech, the goose was cooked for his bid to win a second term.
“Although I will not be involved in the day-to-day running of the federation, nothing will diminish my desire and availability to support whenever so required and I appreciate the important role that you have and always will play to my life.
“The FKF family is a fantastic yet diverse fabric and I urge that we focus on the individuals’ strengths and use them in a goal-directed function within our organization,” he delivered as a parting shot.
While he outlined his achievements, among them securing the hosting rights to the 2018 CHAN tournament, it should not be forgotten he was the architect of the utterly embarrassing effort to bring the 2015 AFCON to Kenya when Libya stepped out.
Social media was awash with collective sigh of relief that the man who in the eyes of the poblic became the single reason of the decline of Kenyan football, now ranked 99th in the world after a brief surge up the FIFA rankings was gone.
The only pleasure he derived is he called the shots for his final bow, using a platform no one could ignore to announce the decision his reign was over, managing to create the picture he was not pushed out of office- in some sense, Nyamweya could pride himself as being a statesman of the game.
However, he was a central character in the tussle that saw the polls put off four times since last November with and Electoral Board (some members) he was instrumental in appointing and putting in place resisting the urge to play to his whims.
Nyamweya must have realised his number was up when his opponents, some who vied in 2011 resorted to using the same measures he employed to win power against him.
At the end of his term on October 28, majority of his National Executive Committee members had turned against him, teaming up with his opponents and in the process, lurid details of malpractices in his regime found themselves into the public domain.
Details of how signatures of Kenyan Premier League club chairmen were forged in securing the $2m per annum deal with MP & Silva for broadcast rights were some of the corruption allegations that dogged his tenure although he is yet to be prosecuted for any wrong doing.
Many believe the Stars versus Cape Verde fiasco where the national team was forced into a 22-hour flight to Praia to the second leg that stoked furious public backlash and saw him briefly held in ‘voluntary’ custody by Directorate of Criminal Investigations officers to be the final straw that broke the camel’s back.
FKF were accused of misappropriating some Sh17m from Government for the 2018 World Cup qualifier as Kenya crashed out at the third preliminary phase of the competition.
Still, the veteran football administrator who is an accountant by training and was a key political operative in the days of the Youth for KANU 92′ alongside Deputy President, William Ruto and Cyrus Jirongo should be given some credit for managing to hang on to his post until extra-time when he paved way for someone else to repair the tattered Kenyan football.
Few, apart from his staunch band of cronies who enjoyed the scraps from his reign will be mourning his exit from the game.
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