It’s been nearly four years since Kenya won the right to host the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN). Yet it is now clear to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) that the country is not, and will not, be ready to host the event in January 2018.
This failure to get ready in time is bad for the tournament’s reputation, the Confederation of African Football and Kenya. It also undermines the domestic leagues that it’s intended to boost – particularly those in the host nation.
The Confederation of African Football’s decision to strip Kenya of the right to host the tournament is a terrible indictment of the country. Given the political turmoil over the presidential election impasse, Kenya needed an image makeover that a successful international sports event would have brought. The loss of hosting rights hurts Kenya’s national economy, the football development agenda, the country’s hospitality industry and even national morale at a time when confidence is badly needed.
Strengthening African football
The African Nations Championship is a tournament for players who play in Africa. It’s different from the Africa Cup of Nations, which is dominated by those who play in overseas leagues. The two tournaments are played in alternate years.
The idea is to strengthen national competitions, which were weakened by the exodus of top class players to more lucrative leagues abroad. The African Nations Championship is an opportunity for home based players to show their talent.
Next year’s event is the fifth edition of the championships. Sixteen countries are scheduled to compete between January 4 and February 8 next year. This will have to change, given that a new host – probably Morocco or South Africa – must prepare at such short notice.
Kenya’s lack of preparedness and the loss of hosting rights are worrying because the championship is still growing in reputation. The country stood to gain a great deal by successfully hosting the event. It’s going to take a major public relations push for Kenya to repair this damage.
The whole spectacle is reminiscent of 1996 when Kenya lost the right to host the Africa Cup of Nations because it wasn’t ready. Playing facilities were found to be below standard. This failure hurt the country and its football activities. Allowing this to happen twice is a disaster.
So much undone
Football Kenya Federation President Nick Mwendwa had insisted the country was ready. He was obviously wrong.
Work has been ongoing at four of the event’s five stadiums. There are three venues in and around the capital, Nairobi, and one each to the east and west of the capital. Apart from the Moi International Sports centre, which was upgraded to host the World Athletics Under-18 Championship this year, the stadiums are far from ready.
Each must meet Confederation of African Football requirements: specialised lighting systems for live TV coverage, at least four changing rooms, media facilities, a referees’ room and a room for anti-doping tests.
The preparedness of Kenya’s own national team is another concern. If the facilities are not in place, how was the team getting ready to play in the tournament? How could promotion and marketing of the event begin when the country was even not sure the Confederation was going to give them the final nod?
This debacle has been a study in poor planning and execution.
Distracted by elections
Kenya’s last minute rush could not have come at a worse time. The country has been in election mode for most of the past year. It has been caught up in political uncertainty after the Supreme Court annulled the outcome of the August poll and set a date for new presidential elections. County governors and management responsible for upgrading stadiums have been more focused on re-election.
It was no surprise, then, when the Confederation of African Football postponed a scheduled inspection tour of Kenya. This was a signal that all was not well.
Building a brand
Kenya has built a strong brand in sport on the field and track. The country hosted the 4th All Africa Games in 1987. More recently, Nairobi was praised for hosting the World Under-18 Athletics Championships.
Successful hosts gain useful advantages: increased investment in facilities, increased media visibility, more tourists and improved transportation networks. Public enthusiasm for the sport can also get a boost. And if the host team succeeds, there can be a feeling of enhanced national excitement, patriotism and identity.
The championship was a perfect opportunity to elevate the brand of the national football team, the Harambee Stars. Prior to 1996, Kenya qualified for AFCON three times in a row (1988, 1990 and 1992). Since the 1996 suspension, it has qualified only once. This was in 2004 in Tunisia. Hosting would have given Kenya a shot at an African Football Championship without having to qualify on the field of play. It would also have laid the foundation for qualifying for AFCON and even the now expanded World Cup in the foreseeable future.
This second cancellation is a huge disappointment to the sporting fraternity across the the East African region and the whole world that has always looked at Kenya as Africa’s trailblazing superpower in sporting matters.
National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), Akure Division, has ordered MTN Nigeria Communications Limited and MTN International, Mauritius, to pay its former Network Group Operations Manager, Mr Paul Odunewu, $13,419,728.54, £10,000 and N2,540,000 (totalling N4,825,036,735.9) following wrongful termination of employment, according to the Nation.
Justice Oyejoju Oyewunmi made the order following Odunewu’s suit challenging his 2006 termination and the deprivation of his entitlements including share options valued at $13,144,512.00. MTN Group Limited, South Africa; MTN Nigeria and MTN International, Mauritius were first, second and third defendants in the suit which lasted 10 years from the Lagos State High Court to the NICN.
Justice Oyewunmi ordered that the sums be paid by the second and third defendants, “except the issue of costs which is to be paid by all the defendants.
“The judge ordered MTN to make the payments within 30 days following which the sums would appreciate at 21 percent interest per annum. In reaching judgment, the court agreed with the submissions of Odunewu’s counsel, Mr Kemi Balogun (SAN), that MTN unfairly imposed a restraint of trade on Odunewu, thus preventing him from working for a period. The judge upheld Mr Balogun’s submission that the evidence showed that Odunewu neither committed any serious, persistent breach of the provisions of the agreement or the company’s code, nor was ever summoned to a disciplinary committee or found guilty of any misconduct or non-performance.
Justice Oyewunmi observed, among others, that the defendants failed to controvert the testimony of a former MTN Chief Executive Officer, Mr Adrian Wood, regarding the offers made to Odunewu which persuaded him to quit his job in The United Kingdom and join MTN. Odunewu, a UK-based chartered engineer, was employed by MTN Nigeria in 2001.
He said MTN pleaded with him to return home from the UK and help the company to develop its telecommunications in Nigeria. He averred that he was promised, among others, a Share Option, a long-term incentive scheme being developed by MTN.
Odunewu said when he complained that the Share Option was not contained in his offer letter, MTN persuaded him to accept the job, adding that he would be entitled to the shares after three years.
Odunewu said he worked at MTN for over four years, and was responsible for the network’s outstanding achievements, which continues till date.
The former manager said he was responsible for the company’s pre-paid and post-paid revenue, subscription, voucher management and real-time charging. Odunewu commenced the suit against the defendants in 2007 before the High Court of Lagos State, but in 2012, it was transferred to and began afresh at NICN which had exclusive jurisdiction. Trial commenced on January 29, 2014.
Meanwhile MTN Nigeria Communications Limited has faulted the judgement of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN).
In a statement on Saturday responding to the judgment, the telecommunication company said the position of the National industrial Court on the suit filed by its former employee is “detrimental to our interests.” “The court’s position has been reviewed by our internal and external counsels. Following that review, we have approached a higher court requesting that the decision of the industrial court be set aside.
“We believe that there are critical elements of our case which were not fully considered by the lower court before taking its position. We are confident that the outcome at the superior court will be different and that justice will not only be done but will be seen to be done in this case, “ the company stated,
MTN said it is committed to a policy of openness, integrity, diligence and professionalism in the conduct of business – with customers, shareholders and each other.
“Our Code of Conduct stipulates high labour standards regarding all our employees. In addition we have processes in place to ensure that we act in accordance with international standards and local laws.
“ We therefore maintain that we treat all our employees fairly, as captured in the details of our employment contracts, signed and legally binding. This situation was no different. The most basic commitment we make – to our customers, our shareholders, and each other – is to conduct ourselves in an ethical, honest and respectful manner”.
Credit: The Nation Nigeria