By Onochie Anibeze
After our lead story on the impending doom on the FIFA Under 17 World Cup billed to start in Abuja on Saturday, many Local Organising Committee (LOC) sources volunteered information on the reasons for the poor organisation even the world football governing body has noted. Lack of funds has been the major problem.
â€œWe are in trouble. Federal Government released money but it is not enough. They have, so far, released N9 billion. But the money has been exhausted on th
e job done so far. It is unfortunate that now that money is needed to run the competition, we are running on a very lean purse. Thatâ€™s why a request has been made for additional funding. There will be unbelievable crisis if nothing is done to rescue the situation,â€ one Main Local Organising Committee source said on phone yesterday.|
â€œThe sports ministry used N5 billion for intervention and the LOC used the rest on the jobs done so far,â€ one insider said on phone from Abuja.
Asked to explain what â€˜interventionâ€™ meant, he said â€œthe ministry intervened to get the venues ready for FIFA approval otherwise the money would have been channelled into organisation and we would not have problems now. They used the money to ensure that FIFA approved the venuesâ€.
A source in Lagos but close to the LOC said that LOC awarded some contractsÂ thatÂ gulpedÂ aÂ lot of money but added â€œ the money was also for the runs they have made so far.â€
Another source expressed outrage over some purchases. â€œThere are things like torch light and jacket hangers that I canâ€™t explain why they are in the LOC stores. There has been some unwise spending and these matters are coming up now because of the tight financial situation the LOC has found itself. But one must admit that they have been working.â€
â€œWe are going to have problems because some venues are yet to meet the required standard. Some practice pitches are still not ready,â€ another said.
The chairmen of most of the sub-seats have been hit by the lack of fund to drive their venues. Some venues were battling yesterdayÂ to allocate money for things as minor as fuel for vehicles meant for the teams.
â€œThereâ€™s confusion over who does what,â€ one source said in Lagos, adding â€œthe things LOC are supposed to do are being left for the venues. This competition will expose how bad we are. We only hope that some magic can happen and turn things around.â€
But one LOC member said that there was nothing to worry about as they were on course and that monies have been spent judiciously to get to the stage they were.