FKF chief Otieno speaks on new role after Muthomi’s exit

FKF chief Otieno speaks on new role after Muthomi’s exit

Jacob Icia

When Football Kenya Federation (FKF) chief Nick Mwendwa appointed Barry Otieno as the Communications Manager at the beginning of his tenure, there was not a shred of signal that he would rise to the office Secretary General within four years.

The soft spoken communication expert kept a low profile all through, even as he assumed the role of the federation Marketing Manager, an extra mandate from the communications job.

Just at the peak of the 2018 African Cup of Nations, Robert Muthomi, the man who accompanied Mwendwa and his deputy Doris Petra in the hot campaigns of ousting Sam Nyamweya from his office, a conundrum surrounding the controversial transfer of former Sofapaka player John Avire forced the former out.

He stepped aside to pave way for investigations, and according to his statement then, he hoped to come back ‘soon after exoneration’ of the raised issues.

Otieno was immediately announced the Acting Secretary General, a role he has now been confirmed to carry out to the end of the almost culminating term. He will also continue if all goes well and Mwendwa recaptures his seat.

“We have agreed he (Muthomi) will not be coming back,” Mwendwa told journalists a fortnight ago during the Annual General Meeting.

Citizen Digital caught up with Otieno at his office, the FKF headquarters, where he says despite finding an overflowing basket after Muthomi’s exit, he has fully settled.

“It has been an eye opener experience. It is another level in career as a person, quite challenging but also fun at the same time,” he observed.

According to Barry, well laid out plans has made it easy to for him to fit in the role, that to him was unforeseen until the time Muthomi left.

“The best thing is that as a federation, goals for the year are spelt out very well so it is not a matter of stepping in to do things from the scratch.

“The activities were running seamlessly until he (Muthomi) left and having been in the larger group of this office, I knew what was exactly what is expected of me,” explained Otieno.

Although he counts a lot of gains from the time the Mwendwa and team took over, Otieno concedes football has been hit hard by the exiting of major sponsors in the market, just after his appointment.

“I have come in at quite a difficult time for football in Kenya. Main football sponsors have closed shops in Kenya and generally the country’s economy is not doing very well.

“Corporates that could be potential sponsors are sacking employees to reduce the financial burden, thus difficult to venture into sponsorships. We continue to do our best to see how we can bring some on board but it is not easy,” Otieno offered.

Poignantly, the recent thought of the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) taking a break was the biggest signal of the economic hard times football is facing in the country, and the Ag. SG is happy the league will continue.

“It tells it all, it shows you how things are. We are however happy that Wednesday’s meeting of the KPL Governing Council agreed that the league will continue. As the ultimate football custodians in the country, we (federation) would not like it stopped.”

Otieno reflected on the situation the top league running body KPL Limited is facing, taking a leap into the future once their contract with the federation is over next year.

“The decision to renew or not to lies with the National Executive Council (NEC). However, in the recent AGM president Mwendwa said the intention is not to break the KPL Company, but to reconstitute it.

Reconstitution means changing the executive structure, for example having an elected chairperson outside the club presidents for a four-year term.”

He continued, “it will also see moving of the KPL offices to the federation headquarters to cut the operational costs as well as easing of the pressure that comes with divergent opinions on the league matters. Good news is that the KPL CEO and other stakeholders who were present in the AGM are positive about it, so we are optimistic.

On if he sees Mwendwa back after the 2019 December elections, Barry was straight forward if the delegates go by the federation’s report card, it will be almost beyond doubt.

“Look, I’m not directly in the race so I can’t speak much about the elections. It is a secret vote format therefore the last word is with the delegates. I however believe the current administration has done a lot that an honest judgment can only favour Nick’s (Mwendwa) re-election.

“Kenyans now converse about football issues, not again simple issues that our predecessors could not handle. I hope that is the discussion that stakeholders are having even in the campaign times, as we wait for the outcome of the election,” concluded Barry.

The federation is expected to soon give a conclusive report about Muthomi’s fate, after the team that has been investigating his conduct report, with Otieno already confirmed as the office heir.


FKF Barry Otieno

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