NAIROBI, Kenya, May 21 – Coca Cola have defended the procedure they used to secure the controversial naming rights to Nyayo National Stadium.
Country manger Alex Maditsi said at a press briefing on Thursday that they had dealt exclusively with the Stadia Management Board (SSMB) who have two government representatives and awarded them the tender to put their name on the stadium.
“When you bid for a tender its very descriptive on what should be followed. The party we were involved with was SSMB,” said Maditsi.
“If we engaged the minister we would have been seen to be circumventing the process that was prescribed in the tender,” he added.
Maditsi said that his company assured that the Sports Minister Professor Helen Sambili was kept aware of the developments due to the presence of high powered ministry officials on the board.
“On the board itself, their representatives from the Ministry of Sport. Our assumption all along was that the minister was kept informed and we didn’t doubt that she knew what was going on,” said Maditsi.
The Sh118 million deal was revoked earlier this week following concerns raised by the minister over how the deal was formulated and the erosion of the name ‘Nyayo’ from the 26 year old arena.
The deal led to a public spat between Sambili and SSMB chairman Joe Aketch after the minister accused him of having played a major part in the signing of the deal.
The press was shown a detailed presentation of what they had planned to achieve over the next three year in which the deal was supposed to run.
“We acknowledge that ‘Nyayo’ is a brand and an emblem that represents national heritage, while Coca-Cola is about refreshment and inspiring moments of optimism,” said Maditsi.
Maditsi was quick to point out that this week’s development’s does not herald the end of Coke’s involvement in local sports.
“Coca-Cola assures Kenyans that despite all this, the company remains commited to investing in the development of sports in the country,” said Maditsi.
“Through our investment and support of the Copa Coca Cola Under 17s grassroots football tournament, the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour, the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics, Coca Cola will continue to maintain its rich legacy in the world of sports,” he added.
The issue was raised in Parliamnet by Gem Member of Parliament Jakoyo Midowo who question why the deal was revoked when the stadium stand to gain financially from the multi million dollar deal.
Midiwo stated that the move by Coke to remove its name from the stadium would force multinational companies to think twice about gaining an investment foothold in Kenya.
“Since the minister said that since the buying of the rights by Coca Cola were improper, I’d wish the minister would tell us what was improper about it,” said Midiwo.
“We also want to know if her officers were represented on that board that awarded that contract,” added the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) legislator.
Sambili who entered the House immediately after Midiwo finished his statement said that she will issue a ministerial statement on the matter next Wednesday.