NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 7- Further revelations have been made as to just how much money the National Olympic Committee of Kenya squandered in Rio de Janeiro with a new twist in details emerging that NOCK was given an out of budget Sh25mn by the Ministry of Sports just before the travel to Rio for the Olympics.
What was further damning is the fact that the new allocation was not discussed at the NOCK board level, only limited to a discussion between the Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario, his Principal Secretary Richard Ekai and Team Kenya Chief de Mission Stephen Arap Soi.
The revelation was made by NOCK first vice chairman Ben Ekumbo who is also the Kenya Swimming Federation (KSF) chairman, saying they only came to know of the money later despite the money being wired to the committee’s account.
“The board never met to make the decision to have this money and when it eventually got into our account, we were never informed,” Ekumbo said as the NOCK officials went into the second day of questioning by the Parliamentary Committee on Labour and Social Welfare.
Soi confirmed that indeed he received the money and converted it to dollars before travelling with it to Rio. He added the money was withdrawn with signatory assent from the Secretary General FK Paul and Treasurer Fridah Shiroyah to whom he had written informing her of the money and its intended purposes.
“Infact when the money matured in the bank, it was on the day I was travelling to Rio and I was forced to change my flight details so that I can withdraw and travel with it. This is not the first time we are travelling with money. I changed it to foreign currency; Sh29mn is very little money,” Soi told the committee.
According to the breakdown given, Sh4.1mn was to go towards purchase of drugs, Sh24.9mn into accommodation of the Members of Parliament and ministry officials while Sh756, 000 was going to be allowances for members of the Delegates Registration Meeting (DRM).
However, another eyebrow raising factor was the fact that the MPs, members of Parliament’s Labor Committee had travelled to Rio on account of the House.
“We used the money for the intended purposes as well as paying for the accommodation and allowances for the advance team which travelled to Rio. We have Sh8mn remaining and we will return it to the ministry,” Soi offered.
This was not the only amount questioned by the Parliamentary Committee as they also raised questions over an apparent Sh18mn indicated in NOCK’s budget for training and competition gear.
NOCK had earlier stated that Nike are the official kit sponsors for the team and hence the Member of Parliament questioned why another Sh18mn was budgeted for if indeed they had sponsored kits, something that Soi failed to explain.
Also, Soi was hard pained to explain how the documents tabled indicated they had 12 steering committee meetings while as a matter of fact they only had three as disclosed by second vice chair Ekumbo.
“I think most of this mess arose because the steering committee, chaired by the Cabinet Secretary himself never met often,” Ekumbo offered.
According to the documents, each member of the steering committee was entitled to a Sh5, 000 sitting allowance but Soi, while confirming they only met thrice says he has never received any allowance coin.
Earlier on, the meeting was almost thrown into a war of words between Soi and Team Kenya Captain Wesley Korir who is a member of the parliamentary committee when Soi alleged, backed by members of the NOCK board that Korir ‘self-imposed’ himself as Team Kenya Captain.
When asked by the Committee to shed light on the process of selecting the team’s leader, Soi stated;
“We don’t know who made Korir the team captain because as far as we are concerned, we never selected him. He was a self imposed captain,” Soi alleged.
The Cherangany legislator who was part of Kenya’s marathon team was thrown into frenzy, completely angered by the utterance saying; “I was selected straight from the camp in Eldoret by all the team captains and even when we went to State House, the same was confirmed,” an angered Korir offered, using abusive words which he was he was later forced to withdraw by the committee chair David Were.
Ekumbo, also commenting on the same said NOCK wasn’t diligent enough to confirm a team captain, admitting ‘they had failed in that and fully took responsibility’.
-Ndereba blames Soi-
Most of the blame over the Rio mess seemed to be driven at Soi with the Parliamentary Committee wondering why he was in charge of everything and not delegating the duties.
Team Kenya Chaperon Catherine Ndereba opened the lid when she alleged mistreatment by Soi over her ticket to Rio and lack of accreditation to the Olympic Village.
“When I tried to talk to him before he took us to the apartment, we kind of exchanged words and when I asked him why I had to suffer this, he said, ‘you just pushed yourself to come and you are not supposed to come’. But I told him that I didn’t travel just for the sake of it. I felt there was some value I could add,” Ndereba told the Committee.
NOCK documentation officer Anne Njambi also pointed out she was only issued with the travelling list five days to the departure date and adds she was kept in the dark, only asked to coordinate ticketing against an already prepared list.
Njambi had just arrived at the Parliament hearing straight from the CID headquarters where she had been summoned over the list of people who travelled to Rio.
Soi absolved himself from blame saying ticketing issue was handled by the ministry, throwing the blame back to Wario who had earlier on Tuesday said his officers did everything diligently.
The meeting was adjourned until Tuesday afternoon when NOCK is expected to shed more light on the budget especially on the amount they received from the government and sponsors vis-à-vis their expenditure.