Nick Mwendwa's meteoric rise to the top

Nyamweya unknowingly offered Mwendwa a base on which to build his support and become FKF president.

Sunday February 21 2016

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa, casts his vote during the FKF Special Annual general meeting elections on February 10, 2016 at the Safaricom Stadium, Nairobi. By handing over the mandate to "manage" 18 FKF Premier League clubs, former FKF president Nyamweya unknowingly offered Mwendwa a base on which to build his support and accomplish a dream of becoming the leader of Kenyan football. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa, casts his vote during the FKF Special Annual general meeting elections on February 10, 2016 at the Safaricom Stadium, Nairobi. By handing over the mandate to "manage" 18 FKF Premier League clubs, former FKF president Nyamweya unknowingly offered Mwendwa a base on which to build his support and accomplish a dream of becoming the leader of Kenyan football. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By DAVID KWALIMWA
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In January last year, former FKF president Sam Nyamweya, his then right hand man, Robert Asembo, alongside a few other cronies and busy bodies had a late night meeting at a Nairobi hotel.

The agenda was straight forward. To come up with a game plan that would enable the national federation dethrone the Kenyan Premier League administration from the day to day running of the top flight football league - and most importantly, take full control of the annual hundreds of millions of shillings that come along with that task.

Way into the deliberations, the idea of coming up with a separate entity - the FKF Premier League - to handle this same task was mooted.

The FKF PL, it was argued, would in time make the Kenya Premier League irrelevant.

With that done with, the chaps present then went about choosing "someone" to head the new body.

NYAMWEYA ENDORSEMENT

Suddenly, Nyamweya reportedly made a significant statement that would come back to haunt him a year later.

"Let's give this thing (job) to Nick, he is a young obedient boy, na ako na kizungu mzuri sana, (he speaks very good English)" Nyamweya suggested.

Nobody opposed. And so it was done.

So on March 21, 2015, the second tier 18 FKF Premier League teams unveiled a three year sponsorship deal with Tanzania Pay TV channel Azam worth Sh200 million.

Nyamweya having provisionally lost a protracted battle to control the Kenyan Premier League, opted to build a strong second tier league and channel some sponsorship money into the product.

At the event, newly "appointed" FKF PL chairman Nick Mwendwa delivered a near perfect speech to welcome the sponsors, in English, to the possible delight of his boss Nyamweya seated a few meters away.

Until that moment, Nick Kithuku Mwendwa was virtually unknown.

The 36 year old would go about his business in Nairobi without notice or interference from the public.

FKF JOB

These businesses included working at Football Kenya Federation - under Nyamweya - as Fifa's Transfer Matching System (TMS) manager.

The job's description entailed electronically processing the transfers of all professional football players moving into and outside Kenya.

Put simply, he was the man tasked with informing world governing body Fifa of all players moving into and outside Kenyan football.

"Nyamweya gave him the job because he considered him a learned ally.

He was also one of the few people at the federation who could handle this 'technology stuff' at ease," a former FKF employee told Daily Nation.

In his bid to multi task, Mwendwa, an IT expert, would also administratively manage the affairs of his club (Kariobangi Sharks), while trying his luck in applying for tenders to supply IT services to banks and Government institutions.

Fast forward to February 2016, and this same guy is now FKF's president having easily defeated a field of five contenders, Nyamweya included, in a historic election on Wednesday.

NEW JOB DESCRIPTION

To offer a scope of the Mwendwa's new job description at the helm of FKF, he is now in charge of the country most talked about sporting activity with an annual income spinning into billions of shillings.

His network will now extend right to the biggest office in the land, while stretching far and wide to each of his colleagues in the 208 Fifa affiliated associations world wide.

During Fifa's special general assembly cum Fifa elections in Zurich on February 23, Mwendwa will cast the vote to elect the world governing body's next president on behalf of Kenya.

Still basking in glory amid tens of congratulatory messages, Mwendwa insists he is focused on the task ahead.

(READ: New FKF president outlines his plans for Kenyan football)

"Football in Kenya will never be the same again. The work starts now. My first target is to ensure Kenya plays at the U-17 Fifa World Cup in four years time.

To achieve this, we will assemble a group of hundreds of U13 kids and train them consistently for the next four years to have them ready.

We are starting from scratch. Any other thing we manage to bring success in in the meantime will be a bonus," Mwendwa told NTV in an interview on Wednesday night, soon after his victory.

So how exactly did he get here?

Unknowingly, by handing over the mandate to "manage" 18 FKF Premier League clubs, Nyamweya had unknowingly offered Mwendwa a base on which to build his support and accomplish a dream of becoming the leader of Kenyan football.

Nick would reportedly go ahead to garner maximum votes from FKF PL clubs during Wednesday's elections.

Soon after, lady luck smiled and Mwendwa a fairly intelligent guy with a nose for making clean money, struck a number of IT related deals in Nairobi worth tens of millions.

EVENTUAL FALL-OUT

This amount would offer him the "seed money" to take on Nyamweya.

By June last year, Mwendwa was publicly opposing almost all of Nyamweya's leadership methods in the media, while calling for "transparency", in the way funds meant for FKF Premier League clubs were used.

Mwendwa's first major onslaught against his former boss would come at the aborted FKF annual general meeting in Kisii.

At that time it was reported he successfully convinced a majority of the delegates to oppose most of the items on the agenda.

Soon after, "Team Change" was born. This group, consisting a large number of Nyamweya's disgruntled loyalists, led by Mwendwa - an energetic Manchester United fan.

Mwendwa would then traverse the whole country while talking and wooing anybody who knew how a football looked like.

By the time football elections commenced late last year, Nick Mwendwa was way ahead in terms of ratings and "sympathy" from the public, media and top government officials keen to embrace change in football management.

Nyamweya's tactic - apparently - was to wait for Nick to run out of gas. Unfortunately for Nyamweya, this didn't happen.

The rest is history, as Nick Mwendwa and his 'Team Change' members swept all the ten seats available during Wednesday, a significant endorsement by any standards.

With his work cut out, the Nick Mwendwa sounds ready for the challenge.

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