I pray this finds you in good health.
First, Your Excellency, I’d like to congratulate you for the great efforts that you, and your good government, have employed in fighting the spread of the coronavirus.
God is with us, Sir, and, together, we shall slay this ubiquitous monster.
Your Excellency, I listened, with keen interest last Saturday morning, to your delivery of the government’s eight-point, Sh53.7 billion Economic Stimulus Programme that will, hopefully, get us out of the woods.
Indeed, Sh5 billion for infrastructure development, Sh6.5 billion in education support, Sh3 billion for SMEs, focus on hiring health workers and Sh1.7 billion for increasing hospital bed capacity is well thought-out mitigation.
As is Sh4 billion to kick-start our tourism and conservancy, Sh850 million to stave off floods, Sh540 million for a “greening” programme, Sh600 million to shore up local manufacturing and a further Sh4.5 billion to support small-scale farming and horticulture.
Your Excellency, your stimulus programme will no doubt open up employment space and offer hope for millions of unemployed youths across the country.
However, Sir, precious little is being done for our sportspersons who appear rudderless in these days of the pandemic.
With Covid-19 having stopped play, there are tens of thousands of professional sportsmen and women without bread on their table.
From, inter alia, football league players to volleyballers, basketballers, hockey aces, and swimmers, rugby stars, cricketers along with both upcoming and elite track and field professionals.
Mweshimiwa Rais, for once, there is good rapport at the Ministry of Sport with Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and Principal Secretary Joe Okudo a tag team working in tandem and quickly transforming the ministry’s operations, giving us all hope.
They are on the same page, reading from the same script.
Your Excellency, I hope you sustain this good duo of executives to the end of your term because, I’m certain, they will help you bequeath good legacy for sport.
Especially with political vultures circling State House in anticipation of a Cabinet reshuffle as you whip your foot soldiers into compliance with Jubilee position.
Thankfully, CS Amina and PS Okudo are apolitical, and their focus on service delivery is impeccable. Please retain them.
However, they need your hand in cushioning our sport that has been dealt a near fatal blow by Covid-19.
Sir, the Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund was seen as the turning point for Kenya’s sports development.
But while the Fund released Sh7 billion to the general Covid-19 initiative, paltry allocation has gone to cushioning sport from the pandemic.
Mheshimiwa Rais, your good CS and PS have done well in launching the food stimulus for our athletes, but that was just a drop in the ocean and more long-term solutions are necessary to keep our sportspeople afloat.
I’m sure the athletes have already exhausted the rations.
Sportspeople are as vital to our economy, in the grand scheme of things, as are businesspeople, farmers, artisans and SMEs.
Your Excellency, questions abound as to where over Sh100 billion in Fund revenues generated last year alone went to.
And given that tax on football betting rakes in huge sums for the Exchequer, why should our professional footballers in the Premier League, National League and Women’s League scatter at the sight of the landlord?
Especially with the allocation for sport from the Fund being at 35 percent?
In my conservative estimates, our professional footballers across the leagues are losing approximately Sh40 million in monthly income due to stoppage of play forced by the coronavirus pandemic.
Sir, the last time I visited Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, the number of footballers incarcerated there could easily make up one strong football team.
Should our footballers be ignored during these difficult pandemic times, Your Excellency, your officers will soon be invited to Kamiti to launch a month-long football tournament as vulnerable players turn to crime for survival.
But I’m sure you wouldn’t want to bequeath a legacy of robbers, murderers, drunks, tramps and other rustics.
Mheshimiwa Rais, I must give you credit for personally taking interest in sports infrastructure development and kick-starting the renovations at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium, Moi International Sports Centre and Eldoret’s Kipchoge Keino Stadium.
These facilities, along with Iten’s Kamariny Stadium, among others, in fresh, world-class state, will most certainly be vital launch pads for our sportspeople’s recovery in the post-Covid-19 period.
Naturally, Sir, there is scepticism over such renovation projects as successive governments have flattered only to deceive.
Even after CS Amina’s stadiums visit to Kisumu and Eldoret last week, doubting Thomases still see this as same old rhetoric.
In fact, Your Excellency, the guards at the Kipchoge Keino’s Stadium entrance have seen as many Sports Cabinet Secretaries as the red berets manning State House gates.
From, in no particular order, Najib Balala to Ochillo Ayacko, Maina Kamanda, Ababu Namwamba, Hassan Wario, Rashid Echesa and, now, Amina Mohamed, they have all come to either inspect works at the stadium or offer pledges of reconstruction.
Let’s hope, in the next few months, these Eldoret guards will finally see CS Amina usher you in, Sir, as you arrive to officially open a refurbished Kipchoge Keino Stadium which David Rudisha will use for his speed-work sessions as he prepares to defend his Olympic 800 metres title in Tokyo.
Sir, you will have left an excellent legacy, not just for North Rift athletes, but also for global sport, given that foreign athletes flock Eldoret in droves for training in adjacent high altitude locations, including Iten, Kaptagat and Kapsabet.
Commander-in-Chief Sir, your able ADC, Lt. Col. Stelu Lekolool, may not have mentioned to you, but he was a brilliant hockey player in his high school days at Mang’u.
I’m sure he will agree with me that one of the greatest legacies you shall leave is a refurbished City Park Hockey Stadium, and further tax incentives for investors in sport.
Meanwhile, I hope to catch up with Lt. Col. Lekolool soon to follow up on unfinished business we have regarding the development of sports in his community.
Your Excellency Sir, it would require an afternoon over tea (or more potent stuff) to discuss further the needs of Kenyan sport.
I know you are quite busy, Sir, so I won’t even get into other financial requirements necessary to get Kenyan sport out of the Covid-19 pandemic, and help in the resumption of play.
Like the budget CS Amina and the federations require for testing of players for the coronavirus – especially in contact sport – before the all-clear for competition can be given by the Ministry of Health through your good office, Sir.
Or indeed the possibility of you discussing with your new CDF, General Robert Kariuki Kibochi, the drafting of more sportspeople into the Kenya Defence Forces for gainful employment, to follow in the footsteps of great sporting soldiers like Paul Tergat, Francis Onyiso and Hellen Obiri.
Finally, Your Excellency, thanks for picking Kisii County for the Madaraka Day celebrations this year.
It’s a pity that, after having supported Governor James Ongwae in refurbishing the Gusii Stadium and cleaning up the town, the curfew and travel restrictions mean that June 1 won’t bring the anticipated big celebrations to Kisii.
But I hope, Mheshimiwa Rais, when normalcy returns, you will visit Kisii County and pass by my home county of Nyamira to commission the rehabilitation of a few roads.
Like the Bondeni-Makairo-Magombo road whose tarmacking you pledged in 2017.
Sir, this road is a suitable candidate for the 2021 Rhino Charge, given its horrible state.
Mheshimiwa Rais, please pass my regards to Her Excellency the First Lady, a strong supporter of sports, and to your family in general.
May God bless you, your family, our sportsmen and women, along with our great nation of Kenya.
Wishing you good health, Sir.