When Rashid Echesa was appointed Cabinet Secretary for Sports and Heritage by President Uhuru Kenyatta on January 26 last year, it was up to him to prove his critics wrong.
Echesa, an ex-boxer who was worth Sh40 million in both fixed and movable assets at the time of his appointment, had worn severe criticism when he passed the much-criticised vetting hurdle to clinch the docket.
Echesa’s education background had put him at a great disadvantage with critics adamant he had dropped out in class seven while his involvement in politics while serving as the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader in Kakamega.
Because of this, Echesa’s ability to serve as Cabinet Secretary was questioned widely, although he went on to secure the job that comes with a monthly salary of Sh924,000.
Over a year on in office, nobody was quite sure how he rates his own performance. The general consensus among sports stakeholders, however, is that Echesa’s tenure has been far from impressive.
Chief among his failures was the inability to implement the Sports Fund which was part of the Sports Act 2013 that was enacted into law during the tenure of his predecessor Hassan Wario.
While Wario saw the implementation of a number of components within the Sports Act 2013 (e.g. the Sports Disputes Tribunal and the Anti-doping Agency of Kenya), Echesa has failed to take the story forward by operationalizing the Sports Fund.
National teams and athletes have suffered from lack of financial support while preparing for major competitions due to this.
Another thing that has blighted Echesa’s tenure is the empty promises he was been making with regards to completion of construction works in various stadiums in the country.
Alongside Sports Permanent Secretary Kirimi Kaberia, Echesa made unending promises while issuing deadlines by which the various stadia will be completed, none of which has come to pass.
Echesa late last year told Kenyans that the 30,000-seater Nyayo National Stadium, which has been closed for three years now, would be complete by January this year.
The venue however remains incomplete.
His love for political events, at the expense of attending events involving sports, heritage and culture, have seen him pass across as a man who isn’t interesting in solving issues in his ministry. Echesa was absent at Eldoret Sports Club last weekend as the country was selecting the team to the World Cross Country Championships set for March 30 in Aarhus, Denmark. Not even his PS was present at the competition that was graced by Deputy President William Ruto.
At one time, a visibly angry President Uhuru Kenyatta openly criticised Echesa in the presence of Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga.
This was during the president’s tour of the Nyanza region alongside Odinga where Kenyatta was irked by the poor state of the mausoleum of the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.
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