The Federal Government has congratulated Mo Abudu, Chimamanda Adichie and Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, on the honours recently bestowed on them on the global stage. He called them great ambassadors of Nigeria. Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the three honourees are iconic women in the Creative Industry, who have brought great honour, not…
IN deference to space constraint here, I don’t want to dwell on the controversial Committee for the Organization of All-Africa Games (COJA)–BMW deal, which drew a lot of flaks before the commencement of Abuja 2003 and years after the event. An extract from COJA Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Amos Adamu’s assertions on this will suffice for now: “
All over the world, when you have sponsors like this, at the end of the games, they take away their official vehicles. If they take away their vehicles, how does that benefit the country’s economy?” How can a transaction of this magnitude be entered into without any concession? As it turned out, it was the Germany–based auto firm and its Nigerian business associate Dr. Cosmas Maduka that immensely benefited in conjunction with some COJA and PCAAG’s top members.
While defending its budget, COJA impetuously regaled Nigerians with statistics of other countries that had played host to events of the same magnitude. In doing this, the organizers did not care a hoot about the countries’ different economic ratings vis–a-vis what could be expended on such showmanship. You cannot give what you do not have—except you want to mortgage things that belong to other sectors of the economy and upcoming generations.
How can anyone mention the fact that South Africa spent N55 billion to organize the 1999 edition of the games, England disbursed N72 billion for the 2002 Commonwealth Games held in Manchester while the Sydney Olympic Games—a bigger event–cost the hosts more than a trillion naira in justifying our own expenditure profile? How can anybody in his right senses compare these nations with a poor country like Nigeria ravaged by corruption and executive mismanagement of our patrimony? What is our per capita income? What is our rating on the human development index? Just last week, we were ranked 187 out of 191 countries with the worst health sector in the world.
Why did COJA prefer South African printers to their Nigerian counterparts? Did we need to print invitation cards, programmes and information manuals in South Africa when there were local companies which could do excellent jobs at cheaper costs? This kind of warped policy does not encourage domestic resourcefulness and industrialization. In any case, COJA, I am sure, must have paid more for printing in South Africa. The government should not have allowed this boosting of other economies while pauperizing our entrepreneurs. Local capacity/content cannot be built by empowering other countries’ nationals to the detriment of our people. Any item that can be produced here should not be contracted out to foreigners.
This could be tolerable only in situations where there are no local competencies. The developed world did not transform their climes through acts of citizenship alienation. It is likely there were vested interests in the printing job.
Just like the Nigerian Content in the Nigerian oil and gas industry which is clearly defined as “the quantum of corporate value added to or created in the Nigerian economy by a systematic development of capacity and capabilities through the deliberate utilization of Nigerian human, material resources and services in the Nigerian oil and gas industry,” this same principle should be extrapolated to sporting activities and other engagements.
COJA even had to import chicken! Hope they also imported toothpicks to go with the delicacy. This resort to importation of all manner of items suggests that we do not appreciate what we have. What has happened to our value system? Is this not another form of neocolonialism?
In all, how much did it cost the government to execute Abuja 2003? No final figure to that effect has been released, but it is estimated that the whole project gulped about N33 billion, excluding donations and sundry contributions. With this kind of budget, COJA could afford to fritter money on imported chicken, stationery and condoms! While this wastage was going on, local suppliers and contractors were being owed for services rendered. Even drivers were denied their allowances by an official who was later fired because of monumental graft.
Left to Adamu, his committee would have preferred to spend N50 billion on the Unity Games, but government approved only N24 billion initially and later made a supplementary allocation. Meanwhile, the organizing committee on its own generated N7.6 billion in value, N500 million in cash and raked in N192 million from banks that jostled for official banking status. Chisco Motors reportedly donated more than 100 luxury buses in addition to the 900 BMW exotic cars.
On the heels of the Abuja 2003 scam cocktail, The Insider magazine was dragged to court over allegations of contract frauds against the former vice-president, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku. When will the last word on TELL’s own “Scandal in Aso Rock” be heard? I do not mean Adamu’s July 8, 2004, advertorial defence, but the unimpeachable fact of the matter from independent and judicial sources.
Once the overdue audit report elucidates these graft areas and makes a declarative statement on the entirety of COJA and its operations, then our pyrrhic victory in Abuja 2003 would have been a real success. For now, it looks like a fluke because of a miasma of corruption. The envisaged forensic audit report must come from an independent and reputable firm of professional auditors. Otherwise, all the issues of misappropriation and other improprieties will remain like a shadow which will not go away as long as the substantive issue does not receive any satisfactory illumination.
I enjoin the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to reopen the unresolved fraud fiesta that underpinned the Abuja 2003 continental spectacle.
Our democracy cannot stabilize if we continue to confer national awards on undeserving citizens instead of institutionalizing accountability. Our country cannot be a signatory to the Anti–loot United Nations Convention when a few Nigerians are busy feathering their nests at the slightest opportunity like the 8th All-Africa Games.
Fourteen years down the line, the fraud sores and general opaqueness of the gathering are still fresh—time cannot heal the sordid manifestations! Someday, a Jerry Rawlings will emerge in this country to unearth all atrocities and mete out instant justice to the perpetrators and their offspring to serve as a deterrent to current and prospective office holders! Thereafter, a true nation will evolve. For now, we are still clownishly forging ahead in anticipation of an implosive self-annihilation.
Abuja 2003 remains one of the greatest scandals in global sports history! Final submissions next week, ceteris paribus.