Wario, where art thou? Sports CS Missing in Action
Kuadimika kama wali wa daku, is a Swahili proverb that implies a certain object, person, concept is significantly scarce.
This saying is an apt representation of the unexplained absence of the Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and the Arts, Dr Hassan Wario Arero who has been missing in action – MIA from the local sports scene for almost two months.
Perhaps, the current investigation on the minister and his Principal Secretary, Ambassador Richard Ekai by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) over the Rio 2016 Olympics debacle pursuant to a recommendation by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Keriako Tobiko has compelled Wario to fade away from public limelight.
Four National Olympics Committee-Kenya Officials have appeared in on charges of theft, misappropriation of kit and embezzlement linked to the management shambles of Team Kenya in Brazil that blighted the country’s best ever performance at the quadrennial global showpiece.
Even the last time he tweeted on his official handle, @AreroWario was on November 3, 2016 and three days later, he re-tweeted a post by State House spokesperson, Manoah Esipisu.
The DPP had requested the DCI to investigate Wario and Ekai and perhaps the negative publicity could have prompted Wario’s Houdini act.
A probe report into the Rio fiasco ordered by Wario and released to much fanfare is yet to see the light of day with members of its Committee complaining they are yet to be paid for their work.
Its recommendations brought forth deep divisions at the ministry with Ekai on the warpath saying it was authored to exonerate his boss from any misdeed while throwing him under the bus as the chief accounting officer.
Kenya will be hosting the IAAF Nairobi 2017 World Under 18 Championships in July; a major sporting carnival that has been plagued by high profile withdrawals led by the overall winners the United States of America, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Switzerland.
The six nations cited security concerns as their main reason for opting out of the last edition of the biennial event that serves as a platform for future track and field stars to announce their coming to the world.
The CS has been mum on the Ministry’s plans to assuage the fears of participating nations and was visibly absent during the Valentine’s Day press conference by the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) held outside the President’s office at Harambee House.
It was left to the head of Nairobi 2017 LOC Mwangi Muthee, Government Spokesperson Eric Kiraithe and other mandarins to update the world on the State’s plans to curb the pull outs.
The Government and LOC revealed their plans to lobby the countries that had withdrawn to rescind their decisions.
Consequently, an absent Wario and his Cabinet counterpart and Kenya’s top diplomat Ambassador Amina Mohammed, who is in charge of the Foreign Affairs and International Trade docket were tasked to lead the contingent that would sell Nairobi 2017 to the world.
Besides that, Kenya is penned to host the 2018 African Home Nations Championship (CHAN) early next year open to local based players.
The Confederation of African football – CAF has been jittery about the country’s facilities and is currently conducting its third tour to ascertain the progress of renovations at designated venues.
Again, Wario has been missing from the picture with the organising body of the continental football attraction featuring 16 nations that was recently gazetted by Wario taking up the task of assuring CAF that Kenya is ready to host the tournament.
The 2018 CHAN LOC made up of members drawn from the ministries of Sports, Interior and National Coordination, Foreign Affairs, Transport and Trade on the Government side as well as Football Kenya Federation has been left to soldier on at least in public without Wario who is mandated to coordinate its activities.
CAF First Vice-president, Suketu Patel is expected in the country on Friday and is lined to meet top government officials including Wario before giving a report on the activities of the inspectors who are on a facility tour.
His announcement could have a huge bearing on the fate of Kenya that has set aside a budget of Ksh2.7b to host CHAN with Morocco and Ethiopia waiting on the sidelines in case the country
On January 20, the Sports Personality of the Year Awards were held in Nairobi and the Cabinet Secretary was visibly absent and yet it was a crowning moment to recap a memorable 2016 season and fete Kenya’s sporting excellence for the past year.
The CS has also been mum on the crippling standoff between the Kenyan Premier League and the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) over the expansion of the competition that has brought the of the start of the 2017 season in the country’s top two tiers of competition.
When he was sworn in, the then tough-talking Wario promised to rein in officials running roughshod over the game and clean up the most popular sport and after supervising the change of guard at FKF in February last year, the minister seems to have left the game to its elements.
In his nonappearance, the Sports Disputes Tribunal that is under his ministry has assumed the key role in arbitrating the matter with some of its ruling coming under scrutiny for exacerbating instead of abating the turf wars.
Last Saturday, the minister was also MIA as Kenya selected her team to go forth and conquer the world again at the March 27 IAAF Kampala 2017 World Cross Country Championships at Nairobi’s Uhuru Gardens, a few kilometres from his office at Kencom House at the heart of the capital.
He was not there to give the athletes who had beaten world class competition to make the cut for Kampala a few sagely words of advice of rallying call to emulate the class of Rio 2016 that excelled beyond expectation.
At this rate, the next citing of Wario could be the day he stands in the corridors of justice to take plea should charges against him be taken to court, an unsavoury sight for a man who took the responsibilities vested in him by the Head of State with such gusto upon his appointment.
Wario should take up a leaf from his South African counterpart and the Minister of Sports and Recreation, Fikile Mbalula who is an ever present whenever there is activity related to his docket.
Viewers of pay television service providers SuperSport sports news channel, Blitz are often treated to the Mbalula who speaks as eloquently as Wario in one function or another with such regularity one would think he pays for space in the network.
Wario, where art thou?