Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The huge investment of N8.2billion by federal government into upgrading the Outside Broadcast Vans for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2009 appears to have gone down the drain following the brazen cannibalisation of the component parts of the vans that have reduced them to monumental relics.
The federal government headed by the Late Umar Yarâ€™Adua approved the huge sum for UK-based company, Well Trade Services (WTS) in collaboration with Sony to upgrade six OB vans to Higher Definition format to enable the production and distribution of world-class live television signals from the eight designated centres in Nigeria to the rest of the world.
The OB vans were used for the All Africa Games in Abuja in 2003 and were upgraded from Standard Definition to High Definition (HD) signals.
The tournament was held in Lagos, Calabar, Kaduna, Ijebu-Ode, Abuja, Enugu, Bauchi and Kano from October 24 through November 15, 2009.
But the alarming development is that 10 years after the successful hosting of the event, four of the mobile broadcast stations now stay lifeless at the packing space opposite the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) office at the National Stadium, Abuja.
After the hosting of the cadet World Cup which Switzerland won at first time of asking, the state of the art broadcast equipment was handed over to NTA as the national broadcasting station.
Concerned citizens estimate the current market value of the brazenly vandalised broadcast components in each of the four OB vans at N2.5 billion.
One of the vans is still in use and is permanently stationed at the Three Arms Zone, where it serves the National Assembly and the State House.
It is not, however, clear in which part of the country the remaining one is deployed.
THISDAY was reliably informed yesterday that each of the vans is fitted with HD facilities that can rarely been seen in any part of Africa, except South Africa that hosted the continentâ€™s maiden and only FIFA World Cup in 2010.
Some of the features of each van include 12 high speed television cameras, high capacity cables, control system technologies that allows slow motions, audio mixer, air conditioning system, switcher, router and servers that supported a variety of workflows among others. Some of the cannibalised parts of the broadcast equipment were installed in 2009 shortly before the hosting of the cadet World Cup.