9 DAYS TO FIFA U-17 W/CUP: Financial crisis hits LOC - Owes contractors N2bn - Spends N400m on biscuits, brooms, drinks
THE Local Organising Committee for the Under-17 World Cup in Nigeria may have run into a financial hitch as the committee is currently contending with debts totalling N2 billion owed to contractors, Nigerian Tribune can report.
Already, the sum of N4.8 billion was said to have been spent on the purchase of materials said not to be of immediate necessity for the hosting of the competition, while the most pressing materials, including security and communication gadgets, are being given secondary attention.
The committee was alleged to have spent the N400 million earmarked for test-running the facilities put in place on the procurement of assorted biscuits, soft drinks and lorry loads of brooms.
According to an impeccable source, “the LOC is supposed to test-run the facilities put up for the U-17 World Cup. “It pains when (Jack) Warner said that we were not ready to host the world and even suggested that we should learn from Egypt. The man would not have slammed us, if those at the LOC had done what they ought to have done well.
“Imagine that the N400 million earmarked for the test-run has been spent to buy brooms, biscuits and soft drinks which they said would be used during the championship.”
However, while reacting to the allegations, the LOC General Manager (Media), Emeka Odikpo, confirmed to the Nigerian Tribune that they bought biscuits and soft drinks, but denied that N400 million was spent on the items, though he refused to disclose the amount spent to buy the items.
The situation, coming less than two weeks to the kick off of the FIFA-organised soccer competition, according to findings, was due to the alleged mismanagement of funds approved by the Federal Government for the hosting of the competition.
This is coming amid a reported face-off between the National Sports Commission (NSC) and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on contract awards in which the NFF is said to have been sidelined.
The development, according to investigations, got to a head this week with contractors handling various contracts resolving to stage a protest against the NSC and the LOC, to press for the payment of the money owed them.
Checks revealed that the contractors were angered when they were told not to expect full payment for the jobs they were handling until after the soccer competition, as the NSC was said to be rationing the available funds.
There was the allegation also that some Toyota Camry cars purchased to ease transportation during the competition were not brand new, even as some top officials of the NSC were accused of distributing the cars among themselves while leaving out those officially meant to put the cars to use.
Some vehicles said to have been hijacked by the commission’s officials include two buses, one Camry car, two Hilux pick up van, one Prado Jeep, one Range Rover and a Toyota Corolla car.
Those directly involved in awarding contracts were also accused of inflating the costs, as mention was made of the case of portakabin whose cost was jacked up from N1.2 million to N5 million.
It was reported also that auditors had been kept out of the contract deals, while none of them had been allowed to inspect any of the vehicles so far purchased.
The preparations for the soccer competition are said to have been affecting registered sponsors, including Globacom Telecommunications and Coca-Cola, given their noticeable reluctance towards the competition.
The sum of N400 million was reported to have been earmarked for re-grassing of 20 training pitches across the federation, even as the officials, according to inside sources, at a time, contemplated importing grown grasses from Spain.
The condition of the training pitches, most especially in Abuja, is nothing to write home about, according to investigations. There may be a last-minute recourse to the Julius Berger training pitches, in the event that the pitches do not meet the deadline.
What was considered as most worrying was that the media guide is being stalled on the grounds that FIFA had demanded the telephone numbers of the entire workforce and the subsets.
Moreover, the luxury buses that would be used by the visiting teams were yet to arrive and also the 78 vehicles said to be coming from FIFA, through its sponsors, few days to the arrival of contingents. Participating countries are expected in Nigeria from different countries beginning from next Monday.
Culled from Tribune.