A Section of Kenyans has greeted the supposed refurbishment and consequent launch of the Nyayo National Stadium with exasperation.
Accordingly, it betrays the Nine Stadia promises that conspicuously and prominently featured in the Jubilee Government catalogue of reelection pledges.
They hold that the colossal sums incurred to refurbish the ‘old facility’ would have been better off be redirected towards building off at least a reasonable number of mini Nyayo stadia in different places within the country. I do not wish to delve into the merits of this proposition today.
I’d wish to dissect it from a constitutional implementation angle. I am of the view that as a country we’ve staggered in executing some of the duties the Kenyans had in mind while supporting the promulgation of this constitution. Don’t be swayed by the absence of timeliness on implementation of some of these provisions.
The framers of the Kenyan constitution subtly acknowledge(d) that our country is a Sports powerhouse. To nature and guarantee our love for and talent in the wake of devolution, they evenly distributed sports to both the National and County Governments.
Sports notoriously features amongst functions of both tiers of Governments are mandated to deal with. Promotion of Sports and Sports Education is the 17th function of the National Government in Part 1 of the Fourth Schedule.
Part 2(4)(h) of Fourth Schedule as read with Articles 185(2), 186(1) and 187(2) Provides that: The functions and powers of the county are Cultural activities, public entertainment and public amenities, including—sports and cultural activities and facilities.
My reading and understanding of the aforementioned provisions lead me into one logical conclusion. That whereas Sports features as a mandatory function to both Governments, Sports development is synonymous with the availability of sports facilities. However suggestive Part 1 seems to be, it spares not the National nor the County Governments from establishing public amenities that include sports facilities.
To foster Sports Development, the National Government instigated the promulgation of the Sports Act, 2013. Section 3 of the Act Establishes a corporate body herein Sports Kenya with duties that include to ‘manage, maintain sports facilities and to ‘establish, manage, develop and maintain the sports facilities, including convention centres, indoor sporting and recreational facilities.’
For avoidance of doubt, Sports Kenya was the successor of the Sports Stadia Management Board. I dare say that the refurbishment of Nyayo National Stadium is premised on Sections 4(a) and (b) of the Sports Act.
But this is not an endorsement to complacency. Sports Kenya can widen its scope of established programmes and build other mini Nyayo stadia in different parts of the country. Before sulking at the National Government for abandoning its Nine Stadia Promises, we should ask, what precludes the 47 County Governments from building Min Nyayo Stadia? They are mandated to establish sports and cultural facilities.
If anything, these Governments can bridge the gap and create simple, ultra-modern facilities with a smaller sitting capacity that the National Government has not built. I acknowledge Kakamega, Narok, Meru counties have attempted to establish functional stadia. But to edify our love for sports and its promotion, can we collectively put to task these county governments build us reasonable, ultra-modern facilities?
(The author is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya, Associate Arbitrator of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators of London and Member of the Kenyan Chapter)