NAIROBI, November 24- Dr. Hassan Wario Arero remained In Situ at the Sports, Culture and Arts portfolio during Tuesday night’s Cabinet reshuffle; despite mounting pressure for his removal from the docket after the Harambee Stars debacle.
Ambassador Dr. Richard Ekai is now the solo Principal Secretary of Sports Development after his functions were separated from Culture and the Arts whose financial accountability is now vested in Joe Okudo.
President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the changes in a televised address to the nation with his choice to retain Wario in the docket eliciting sharp reactions online from stakeholders who accuse him of laxity in addressing matters sport.
Wario came under fire last week after he was forced to rush to Nairobi’s Wilson Airport in a last-minute effort to plead with Harambee Stars players to board a chartered flight to Cape Verde.
The nightmare 22-hour journey and subsequent 2-0 defeat by the hosts sent Kenya crashing out of the 2018 World Cup 2-1 on aggregate at the second round per-qualification phase sparking calls for him and Football Kenya Federation boss, Sam Nyamweya, to be sent packing and or arrested and prosecuted.
At the centre of the storm is Sh17m said to have left the ministry to cater for player allowances, ticket reimbursement to foreign based players and charter of the plane.
On Saturday, CORD Coalition leader and former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga ramped up the pressure when he called on Wario to resign over the shambolic handling of the Cape Verde trip.
“The fixture between Harambee Stars and Cape Verde was released early enough and the Cabinet Secretary could have allocated money one month before the date having known that it was to be played in two legs,” the opposition chief said.
Wario claimed he was not aware of the nine-hour hold up at Wilson since he was busy addressing another biting issue of his tenure at the helm of sport- the doping crisis facing Kenya.
The often tough-talking minister has made bold statements on proposed clean-up of the murky Kenyan sport administration but action on the ground runs thin although he has made progress in altering management structures.
Under his tenure, the Sports Act of 2013 was passed and enshrined in the country’s laws and it is strict adherence to this legislation many feel will go a long way to resolving the rot prevalent in local federations.
Last week, FKF were ordered to comply with the act by December 4 or faced unspecified action before they go to national polls that are scheduled for six days later.
A fortnight ago, the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) that was gazetted in January, was given the force of operation at a Cabinet meeting shared by President Uhuru.
The body charged with tackling the doping menace which has brought Kenyan athletics on the brink of international suspension like Russia and is one of the requirements the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) set out to the nation to avoid sanctions.
In welcoming the move, WADA said Kenya was not off scrutiny with over 35 runners testing positive for banned substances in a spike that started raising alarm in 2013.
The Sports Tribunal that arbitrates disputes among federations and Sports Kenya that is mandated to manage stadiums and took over the duties of the moribund Sports Council have also been established under his tenure.
He also led the Kenyan delegation that won the hosting rights for the Nairobi 2017 IAAF World Youth Championships and inaugurated the Local Organising Committee for the biennial age event in August.
Shortly before the reshuffle, Ekai was busy ending the two-day siege of Athletics Kenya (AK) Riadha House headquarters in tri-partite talks between federation bosses, the Ministry and leaders of the Professional Athletics Association of Kenya whose members staged the blockade.
Ekai called for AK president, Isaiah Kiplagat and Vice-president, David Okeyo, to step aside to pave way for investigations into allegations of corruption facing them.
During the Stars saga, Ekai claimed the Ministry had availed all finances necessary for the team to leave for Cape Verde right after their 1-0 first leg win and did not understand why they had not taken off on Monday.
Together with three high ranking ministry officials, he was questioned Directorate of Criminal Investigations officers last Tuesday the same day, Nyamweya was placed under custody for six hours.