U-17 FIFA World Cup: Gov Fashola Urges A Re-Think In The National Economic Interest
Oct 24, 2008 - The Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) has urged a re-think of the Federal Government’s decision to give up Nigeria’s hosting rights for next year’s Under-17 FIFA World Cup.
Speaking from the City of Sao Paolo in Brazil on his way back from official engagements in Argentina and Brazil, Governor Fashola declared that his call for a serious and urgent re-think is informed by the fact that relinquishing our hosting rights was not in the national interest.
According to the Governor who was visibly pained by reports of the withdrawal read on the website of Nigerian newspapers, the country cannot afford to miss an opportunity which bigger and well established nations had been seriously lobbying for but which fell on our laps. He added that since success or failure depended on how individuals or countries respond to opportunities, this was one opportunity Nigeria should not fail to utilize effectively.
Governor Fashola said only two days ago, he read a report in an international marketing magazine about how the United Kingdom had started lobbying for the 2018 World Cup by organizing an international friendly in Trinidad and Tobago in order to get the support of Mr Jack Warner. He said such strategic lobbying shows how important hosting rights are to countries that appreciate its value.
The Governor said reading the reasons which reportedly informed the decision of the Federal Government to withdraw was even more saddening. The reasons , according to the reports included complaints that the nation had more important issues to tackle and the estimated N37 billion needed to organize the event was too high and that the private sector failed to respond in support of hosting the event.
Furthermore, Governor Fashola said N37 Billion was insignificant an amount to invest in the youth of the country who are actually our future adding that the amount was equally small when consideration is given to the unifying impact of the game of soccer in our national life.
According to Governor Fashola, the serious issues requiring the nation’s attention could not be more than the Seven-Points Agenda of the Federal Government which stand great chance of being realized much more rapidly through the opportunity of the hosting rights about to be thrown away. Explaining further the Governor said renewal of Infrastructure, job creation and building the Nigerian economy to become one of the largest by Year 2020 as articulated in the Agenda could be realized through the tournament as international experience has shown.
Governor Fashola cited such countries like South Africa which is deeply engaged in building stadia, housing estates, rail systems as she prepares for the 2010 World Cup.
Ghana, Argentina, United Kingdom were also cited as countries that had used international sporting events as a platform to renew and develop infrastructure. In Nigeria, a new Games Village and other infrastructure came with the COJA games. Governor Fashola noted that hosting the U-17 World Cup would be one sure way to renew infrastructure under the 7-Point Agenda.
According to the Governor experience has shown that building infrastructure remains one of the quickest ways to build an economy ,citing the example of the building of an hotel which would create spin off jobs for people in the bedsheet, carpet and electronic industries and so on apart from people who would work directly in such facilities.
In terms of diversifying the nation’s economy from an oil dependent one to such areas as Eco-Tourism , Governor Fashola argued that no better avenue could have been created than one in which thousands of players would come into the country with their Managers, Interpreters, Doctors and other allied personnel as well as visitors who would then become Ambassadors to preach from practical experience that the country was safe not to mention the amount of foreign currency to be spent by them.
The Governor said their had been a misconception of the role of the Private Sector in the matter, arguing that the Federal Government should have taken an institutional position to give a guiding light to the private sector to follow. He added that as we continue to pursue the Private Public Partnership option, the country should not forget that FIFA has strong connections with all the leading international brands like JVC, Mac Donalds , Pepsi Cola , Coca Cola etc and therefore the implication of the pull out for our investment drive deserve a reconsideration.
According to Governor Fashola, at this time of dwindling oil prices and economic downturn, there is no better time to look for alternative sources of revenue and investment. He added that in spite of the massive investment in Dubai and Singapore, both countries still attract international sporting events to come to their country through Golf and Tennis for Dubai and Formula One for Singapore.