Today I am an angry man. I am fuming. My anger; it emanates from the recent tussle over the naming of a stadium.
I was shocked, dismayed really, when Sports Minister Hellen Sambili made a serious about-turn on a matter with national ramifications when she ordered that the Coca Cola National Stadium revert to its original name Nyayo.
The good professor has lost it! She, like most of her colleagues in government, has set aside glaring national interest and instead gone back to cheap tribal affections for narrow political mileage.
With the World Cup around the corner, national teams from everywhere would have pitched camp in Kenya and at the branded Coca Cola National Stadium. The global company would have invested millions to refurbish the arena. The minister should have indeed used the opportunity to partner with Coke and have a similar facility constructed becoming a world class sporting site.
And it pains to see all the efforts made by the company to facelift the facility going to waste. Can’t the Prof separate politics from business?
This would have been a big chance for this country to take advantage of the 2010 World Cup and showcase Kenya. Were big teams like Germany, France, England or the USA to pitch camp here, Kenya would have had hours and hours of free positive coverage on western media where leading stations like CNN or Sky News would churn out information from this country. Our hotels would have business booming.
The Minister, instead of cancelling such a lucrative venture, should have instead looked for other opportunities and encouraged more investors to put in their money behind such a venture. All over the world the trend is that firms invest big and in turn have the stadium identified with the brand. A good example is the Emirates stadium or Reebok in the UK.
Before Coca Cola came into play, the stadium was in a sour and sorry state; there was no running water, the toilets never worked, terraces were filled with filth and only a smudge of paint. How then can you, Madam, cancel such a deal which Kenyans are proud of?
The company has already spent Sh16m and was to invest Sh118m over the next three years. How on earth then would you invalidate such a deal? Naming rights is not for heaven’s sake ownership. How would investors trust a government that reneges on its word as you have shown?
I want to give Coca Cola free advise; move to court hastily and file a breach of contract suit and seek special and aggravated damages for the breach, loss of confidence by Kenyans and subjecting your good name to public ridicule.
You know who should apologise to Kenyans and beg Coca Cola to return to the negotiating table.