By Kariuki Mwangi
The Nairobi City County Government under the leadership of Governor Johnson Sakaja has embraced the development of sports as part of youth empowerment in the talent and skill sector of the economy.
The Sakaja upon election in 2022 formed the department of talent, skills development and care which encompasses sports as a core function in the governor’s sports development agenda.
The department’s accounting officer Oscar Igaida, the Chief Officer in charge of talent, skills development and care, under which sports falls, has over the last 10 months steadily steered the sports docket as he seeks to ensure that the county government delivers on its promise to develop the sports industry to the nation’s capital, a county which boasts of the most young population in the country.
The former secretary general of 13 times Kenyan Premier League champions AFC Leopards joined Sakaja’s administration endowed with a wealth of knowledge, expertise and the will to develop sports in Nairobi following his experience at the apex of management at AFC Leopards.
With the knowledge on the needs of the sports sector in Nairobi, where over 50 percent of all spprts activities in Kenya are conducted, Igaida embarked on advising Governor Sakaja on the sports needs of the city county as well as implementing sports and talent development policies across the county.
During the media launch of the 2023 Nairobi City Marathon, Igaida confirmed that the Nairobi City County government was committed to ensure that sports is prioritised as a way to create employment among the youth as well as enhance talent development which is a global multi billion industry.
Under the guidance of Igaida and the County Executive Committee member for talent, skills development and care Brian Mulama, the Sakaja administration has been able to host sports events ans well as the continuous development of sports infrastructure across the city.
In December, 2022, Nairobi City County hosted the Nairobi festival which included sports activities before hosting the recent Nairobi Sports extravaganza which included three events; the World Boxing Foundation (WBF) title fight between the winner Kenya’s Sarah Achieng against Edith Soledad of Argentina played at Charter Hall, Nairobi, a street football competition along City Hall way and a live match viewing of the 2023 UEFA Champions league final match in June.
Nairobi County government has been able to construct a basketball court at Camp Toyoyo in paetnership with beverage brand company Henessy as well as the ongoing construction of a football pitch in Mwiki in Kasarani constituency.
But the thunderbolt in the delivery of Sakaja’s government with Igaida incharge was the resumption of construction works at the new Dandora Stadium in Embakasi North.
The state of the art stadium, which is due to be completed in one month is more than 90 percent complete and will be used as one of the main stadiums hosting matches in the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Premier league.
According to Igaida, the sports department is determined to fulfil Sovernor Sakaja’s promise of developing sports grounds in all the 17 sub counties of Nairobi.
“Sports is a key sector and the county government will ensure that we develop the right infrastructure for our youth to develop their talents and skills in sports which is a multi billion industry globally. Public spaces are prone to land grabbers, it is the intention of Governor Sakaja to fulfill the promises made in his Manifesto to secure and develop all our sports grounds in all the 17 sub-counties for public use. We are determined to ensure that no one will use spaces meant for the community, for private or any other use we will not allow land grabbers to tamper with these spaces,” Igaida said.
“The state-of -the-art sports facility will give the youth a chance to nurture their talent and develop sports now with a stadium that can host the premier league complete with an artificial turf, seats, a gym centre, modern stalls and floodlights,” Igaida added.
Construction works at Dandora Stadium resumed following the intervention of the Nairobi governor after work had stalled in 2019 when the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission moved to probe the alleged procurement irregularities believed to have cost the taxpayers millions of shillings.
In the County governments’ set up, the chief officer is the equivalent of a Principal Secretaries (PS) in the national covernment and they are tasked with the day-to-day administration of departmental activities and the provision of strategic policy direction for effective service delivery within the departments they are assigned to.
They also implement policies and programs within departments. The power to deploy a county public officer within a department is vested in the county chief officer.