OPEN LETTER TO FIFA: WHY NIGERIA MUST NOT HOST THE U-17 WORLD CUP TOURNAMENT IN 2009 - MEND
June 16, 2009
Mr. Jack A. Warner,
Vice –President, U-17 World Cup Competitions, 2009
Football International Federation International (FIFA)
P.O. Box 8044,
We are a group of Nigerian Professionals based in Chicago, IL United States of America. We have watched with dismay the efforts of your organization to inspect sporting facilities in Nigeria with a view to taking a decision on whether Nigeria should be given the hosting rights of the Under-17 World Cup Tournament between 24 October -15 November, 2009. The sporting tournament should not be held in Nigeria because of the insecurity of lives and properties in the contemplated host nation. We do not want to mix politics with sports; however we are concern about the potential risks posed to the lives of thousands of sports lovers, visitors, diplomats, journalists, and FIFA officials going to Nigeria for the 21-day Global Tournament.
These are the cities and states your organization is currently inspecting their sporting facilities: Kano, Kaduna and Bauchi in Northern Nigeria; Warri, Enugu and Calabar in Eastern Nigeria; Lagos and Ijebu-Ode in Western Nigeria including the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja. These venues are unsafe; indeed, no city or state in Nigeria is safe to host such a global tournament.
Nigeria is a politically unstable nation. The country lacks the capacity to guarantee the safety of visitors during the tournament. There is widespread corruption, official lawlessness, criminal activities, kidnappings, assassinations and police brutality which are known within Nigeria itself and all over the Western World thus necessitating our call on your organization not to award the hosting rights to Nigeria. Our call is based on the following hard facts.
In Northern Nigeria, especially in the cities of Kano, Kaduna and Bauchi where FIFA officials are inspecting sporting facilities, there have been numerous ethnic schism and sectarian violence where non-indigenes and foreigners were slaughtered by religious fanatics (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3703775.stm
In Kaduna, there is a modified version of the Islamic Shari'a Law which led to religious kerfuffle between Muslims and Christians where over 2000 people lost their lives. In Bauchi and Kano, public drinking is outlawed; women cannot walk the streets without veils and places of pleasure: hotels, motels, restaurants, eateries etc are routinely attacked by Muslim fundamentalists in line with Shari'a. The Most Wanted Man in the World, Osama bin Laden, leader of Al-Qaeda once called on Moslems in Northern Nigeria to “liberate” Nigeria, a call that was heeded and has led to the killings of over 4,000 Nigerians by Moslem zealots (See http://www.usafricaonline.com/chido.binladennigeria.html) (http://articles.latimes.com/keyword/nigeria-revolts)
We want FIFA officials to know that these are dangerous places for foreign journalists and visitors. FIFA must be made to be aware of the general insecurity of lives and properties in all the venues being considered for the tournament.
In Enugu, Eastern Nigeria, there is a general breakdown of law and order where kidnappings, assassinations, armed robbery, extortions and arson have become ways of lives (See http://www.pointblanknews.com/os1821.html ) (http://www.ukpakareports.com/news5oficersDeadAnambra.html )http://www.saharareporters.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2956:nigeria-worsening-epidemic-of-kidnappings-must-many-more-have-to-suffer-&catid=82:guest-contrib&Itemid=199 )
In Enugu, Calabar, Lagos and Warri which are also being considered as possible venues, there is bad news as kidnappings, brigandage, torture and extortions are daily perpetrated by unemployed striplings particularly attracted to foreigners carrying hard currencies because of the poor value of the Naira-the local currency. According to Nigerian media reports, more than 1,000 foreigners have been kidnapped in Nigeria between January, 2006 –May, 2009 Examples: Ms. Margaret Hill, a Briton was seized in July 2007; Ms. Irina, a Belarusian fell victim in January 2007; Messrs Michael Coe, a Briton and Paul Alford, an Irish working with the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) were kidnapped at Ogunu, Warri in March 2007; an Indian company executive with the Seven-Up Bottling Company was seized in Benin City on September 9, 2008; 2 Chinese expats were forcibly abducted at Nnewi, Abia State in March 2007; another Briton was seized at Pan Ocean Oil Corporation, Warri in October, 2008; 4 expats from The Philippines were kidnapped on January 30, 2007; 2 Germans and unspecified number of European oil executives were shot dead in broad daylight on July 27, 2008 at the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Corporation, Bouy 38-39 near Bony, Rivers State on July 27, 2008. The list is endless.
Today, the insurance costs of workers in multinational corporations in Nigeria have doubled because in America and other parts of the civilized world, no foreign journalist wants to cover any international event in Nigeria for fear of being Beirutized. Ask Mr. Graene Kerr, an oil company executive who managed to escape from Eastern Nigeria after watching the gangland way two of his European business partners were snatched at their desks in the afternoon in 2006. “My wife doesn't want to bring our kids back,'' said Scotsman Graeme Kerr, a general manager of two oil services companies whose family left the country after a Port Harcourt bar Kerr was in was attacked by gunmen in August. "Now I'm looking for some work outside of Nigeria.” (See http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/international/2006/10/11/73226.htm).
The U.S State Department has repeatedly warned American citizens of the risks of traveling to Nigeria for whatever reasons and specifically mentioned 7 of the 10 cities your organization is considering for hosting the global tourney (See http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_928.html
Similarly, all British citizens have been warned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of Her Majesty's Government to steer clear of Nigeria because of prevalence of crimes, insecurity, and robberies (See http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and-living-overseas/travel-advice-by-country/sub-saharan-africa/nigeria).
In addition, even your home government, The Federation Authorities of the Swiss Confederation as recently as May 29, 2009 through the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs has also issued travel warning to all Swiss nationals from visiting Nigeria (See http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/travad/hidden/hidde2/nigeri.html)
We want your organization to know that in Nigeria, it is highly risky to use international credit cards to transact any legitimate business from purchasing airline tickets, paying for hotel accommodation, to buying newspapers, souvenirs even rent a car or ride in a taxi.
Now concerning sports facilities, we want FIFA to note that of all the 100 Best Stadia in the World, only the Lagos National Stadium, built in 1972 with a capacity for 55,000 seats is globally ranked while the new Abuja National Stadium built in 2003 at an astronomical cost of $900m-the costliest in the world-once collapsed in the middle of a game (See http://www.stadiumdb.com/
Because of these legitimate concerns and many more, we urge your organization to have a rethink in your decision to host the World U-17 Soccer Tournament in Nigeria later this year.
MOSHOOD ADEMOLA FAYEMIWO (ABD)
Pro Tem President, NIASOMEND-USA.
“If a man (woman) has not discovered something worthwhile to die for; he (she) is not fit to live” -Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
NIGERIANS IN AMERICA SOLIDARITY (WITH) MOVEMENT FOR TH EMANCIPATION OF
NIGER DELTA (NIASOMEND)
WORLD SECRETARIAT 7715 SOUTH COTTAGE GROVE
CHICAGO, IL 60619-9998
Email: [email protected]
Publisher - 516 451 0632