By: Abubakar Jimoh
One can imagine the ongoing misconceptions in Nigeria political landscape due lack of clearly defined principles and agenda by political office holders, who attempt to solve our problems with half-baked policies and programmes that hardly address our needs.
After hesitation, the Federal Government recently decided to spend billions of naira in hosting U-17 World Cup just as it seeks for a loan of $3 billion from World Bank in the face of huge funds in the foreign reserves and Excess Crude Account. We need as Nigerians to ask some vital questions on the hosting of the sports fiesta such as: what does Nigeria really hope to achieve from the U-17 World Cup? Does Nigeria, as a developing nation, with monumental and developmental problems such as unemployment, poverty, irregular power supply, bad roads? Are capable and truly ready for funding of the game?
It has been established that the Federal government has lobbied the National Assembly for to approve the funds to finance the U-17 World Cup project. What would have happened to the other neglected development projects in the country that need immediate attention?
The country has critical problems of irregular power supply that has almost made all Nigerians to source for alternative means of generating electricity using toxic and fuming generators that are often hazardous to health. Anyway, this might not be shameful to the government since most of the seats of power at federal and state level also use generators as their major source of power. In this case, the economic theory of for-whom-to-produce facing the generator producers is solved when they think of Nigeria as a market.
Some people believe that hosting the FIFA tournament would enhance our image. I wonder if it wouldn’t reinforce our declining dignity as a giant of Africa when foreigners for the game troop to Nigeria only to realize that their hotels and sporting venues use generators for mere electricity supply.
Today unemployment is another critical problem facing Nigeria with thousands of able and capable graduates roaming the street without jobs. It seems the government does not take the need to address the joblessness of our youth as a priority for the attention of lawmakers.
The government should stop beating around the bush and take the bull by the horn by tackling the real problems facing the country. There is no reason behind spending billions of naira in hosting U-17 World Cup in Nigeria when we are suffering from many societal malaises which the huge sum can be deployed to in reducing the pains.
Let Nigeria learn from the former experience in COJA held in Abuja in year 2003 when Nigeria spent billions of naira only to end up in almost bankruptcy by begging the Paris Clubs for debt relief three years after the Game. Some of the structures put in place then have either been sold off, vandalized or looted which means the government must spend another enormous resources to recover or put those amenities back for use.
Nigeria is indeed a funny country. One of the ongoing scandals is billions of Naira spent to purchase brand new vehicles for legislators, which by law they are not entitled to because such privileges have been monetized. If Nigerian would remember, this non-profitable venture was also executed during the immediate past regime and nobody knows the fate of the past vehicles that were only few years old? The present legislators could have still make use of the vehicles purchased by the past administration. What a waste of resources!
It is high time the policy makers should always think wisely in making decisions for betterment of generality of Nigerians rather than waste our scarce resources on non-profitable ventures. The nation developmental projects cannot be adequately pursued if the government fails to develop a sound principle to work within its scope and objectives. For Nigeria to achieve development, the major sectors of the economy need to be addressed squarely other than spending billions of naira recklessly in such projects as the U-17 World Cup and legislators’ vehicles.