By Morenike Taire
Apart from the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos which got rave reviews, there was general discontent when FIFA came calling weeks ago to conduct inspections and see how ready Nigeria was for hosting the Under-17 World Cup to hold later this year. Nigeria was not ready.
This was quite contrary to the position of the local organizing committee earlier this year before FIFA came calling. In their usual fashion, the LOC boasted its readiness to host the FIFA team, saying all nine venues (Lagos, Enugu, Calabar, Warri, Kaduna, Kano, Bauchi, Abuja and Ijebu-Ode) were ready. Makes you wonder where they got that impression from. Was it that they neglected to do the inspections or they operate by a different level, much lower than FIFA?
It is to be hoped it is the former and not the latter, though that would be bad enough. It is gladdening to the heart that preparations have intensified, and states that did not perform took FIFAâ€™s criticism well.
It stirred, it appears, a renewed zeal to put things right. In any case, there is comfort in the fact that FIFA was not happy with preparations for Nigeria â€™99. Still, the turnout had not been that bad.
What has not changed, however, is the amount of noise that is being made about the tournament, which is set to hold in Nigeria between October and November of this year. No one appears to be talking about it internally, not even in Lagos State, where the Teslim Balogun Stadium has become one of the landmarks about which the Stateâ€™s administration boasts, but not in terms of the tournament.
In fact, we are hearing more in terms of campaign about the World Cup billed for South Africa in 2010 than we are hearing about a tournament in our own country. This is, to say the least, too bad.
Sports in general and football in particular, are the worldâ€™s most uniting force because they transcend language, race or sex. For the same reason it is often the vehicle upon which money-makers such as tourism ride. Nations make stunning kinds of revenues from tournaments such as these, and the more noise the LOC and the tourism ministry make about it, the better.
The threat by MEND to disrupt any plan to hold the tournament in Nigeria has largely been ignored. Perhaps the FG and the LOC have their own plans of how to deal with it if any violence breaks out on account of the tournament.
Clearly, FIFA is not very bothered, which means perceptions are not really that bad and all those internet warnings about Nigeria are exaggerated after all.
Still, it is a great opportunity to woo the yet disgruntled youths of that region, involve them in preparations and make them feel like Nigerians once again.
NEPA again, and the Stock Exchange
Though we have had it better than most, the ranks of those angry with the Nigerian Stock Exchange are swelling by the day. The promises of things bouncing back to a healthy plateau have not been made good, and people are not happy.
Certainly, no one wants to be told that trading did not take place on any one day on the floor of our Stock Exchange; but this is exactly what happened this week when something went wrong with their equipment and trading did not take place until evening, and only for 30 minutes.
It has become, in times recent, not quite uncommon to enter a banking hall to be told you cannot transact business because of electricity problems.
At such times, it is not uncommon, either, to be told your account officer, most likely a graduate or even a post-graduate, has gone out to look for diesel or to try to helpÂ fix one of the three standby generators.
All hands, you are told, have to be on deck. Mostly, there are no or feeble apologies. You are, after all, a Nigerian. You ought to understand!
It was the attitude of the public arm of the Stock Exchange in explaining the mishap to the Nigerian investor.
In other words, they have had disruptions in their stock markets in other parts of the world, and it is therefore acceptable if the same happens here. Why are we only so good at copying the mistakes?