Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Works and Housing, has urged Nigeria to bid for hosting of FIFA World Cup.
The minister who spoke during a programme tagged: “The Conversation Series 3 by Segun Odegbami” on the topic “An Integrated West African Transport and Infrastructure History, Potential and Feasibility”, noted that this has many benefits.
At the event which held at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), vmVictoria Island, Lagos, on Thursday, the minister argued that as a former governor Lagos State, the state benefitted massively when it hosted the FIFA under 17 World Cup in 2010 and the National Sports festival in 2012.
He maintained that it was the same way China opened herself to the world after building infrastructure by bidding for and hosting the Olympics in 2008 while London was upgraded with the hosting of the 2012 London Olympics.
South Africa’s rail, telecoms, and other infrastructure, Fashola stressed, also benefited from hosting the 2010 World Cup, explaining that he was in Mumbai when the city was preparing to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
“International sports and entertainment is not just big business and jobs for young people, it is the new global power with which to influence and shape not only global policies but the global economy.
“That is the stage where National anthems are rendered with National flags and colours displayed to the pride and admiration of patriots and perhaps the envy of competitors.
“A bid to host the world cup by Nigeria alone or along with other West African nations must be led by Nigeria. The challenges of launching a successful bid are enormous enough but they are nothing compared to the actual hosting,” the minister argued.
The undertaking itself, whether successful or not, Fashola maintained, will challenge Nigeria’s organisational, planning and execution capacity as a people and a nation.
He argued that Nigeria cannot lose because the country will only get better since the world will not lower the standards for the country, but will rather challenge and support Nigeria to meet them.
“I vote for Nigeria to venture and to lead the bid for a major global sporting event.
“The examples are legion, and for those who are in Qatar, a tiny nation has not only opened herself to the world, and she is projecting herself on a global stage. The benefits of the 2022 World Cup are now hers to harvest or throw away.
“I am able to also report that in the current national development plans, sports is now one of the economic drivers rather than just recreation and a hobby. With the policy now in place, the economic benefits must begin to converge,” he said.
With Nigeria’s positive reputation in terms of fashion at the world stage, Fashola wondered why the country has not taken advantage and begin local production of its sporting materials.
“For example, with our success in fashion, why are our Super Eagles still wearing foreign designs? Why can we not convene a local design competition to produce a new Jersey for the Super Eagles? Why can we not decide that our athletes wear Nigerian designs? ,“ he queried.
He recalled that when Odegbami floated the idea of Nigeria hosting a World Cup many years ago, many dismissed him as daydreaming, without caring to know state of mind.
“A dream it may be, but dreams are the foundations of many realities. Our nation must be thankful for this big idea. We must recognise its potential and see beyond the messenger,” he stressed.
On other infrastructure, he said the investment of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, particularly in roads and bridges are not just national investments, but have international consequences because they facilitate connectivity between many parts of Nigeria, and beyond Nigeria, Arise TV reported.
He listed Ekok-Mfum Bridge and approach roads linking Nigeria with the Republic of Cameroon, the Second Niger Bridge, among the kind of Infrastructure that link cities and countries.