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Last Updated: Friday, 9 November 2007, 09:57 GMT
Nigerians keen to host games
By Alex Last
BBC News, Abuja

Abuja skyscraper
Abuja has better infrastructure than the rest of the country
An African country has never hosted the Commonwealth Games - and that has been the central plank of Nigeria's bid to make its capital Abuja the host city for 2014.

It does have some facilities: a huge national stadium, a velodrome and a swimming pool, all built for the All African Games a few years ago, but barely used since.

So Abuja really needs its facilities upgraded. But Nigeria, with its oil wealth, says it can provide.

Apart from a couple of billboards, and a rare TV advert, there is not much evidence that Nigeria's capital is desperate to stage the games.

But on the streets of Abuja people do seem keen to beat rivals Glasgow to host games.

We have the hotels, the hospitality. Industry in Abuja is fantastic
Abuja resident

"I think Abuja should get it. I think for a while now the Commonwealth Games has always been going to Europe, and I think Africa should be given a chance," one man said.

"You know we all are looking at development. I think having Nigeria to host is another way of improving the standards."

Another man said he believed everything was in place.

"We have the hotels, the hospitality. Industry in Abuja is fantastic, it is good."

'Legoland'

The city itself is a new purpose-built capital, planned by Americans, constructed over the last two decades in the centre of the country, away from the hustle, bustle and crime of the commercial capital, Lagos.

Cattle waking past vehicle in Abuja
Abuja's rich and poor live side-by-side

Abuja does have better infrastructure than the rest of the country.

Endless roads, some glitzy new buildings and modern government offices, though some critics have said it looks like a tropical Legoland.

Officially it is home to one and a half million people, but land is controlled by the government and most live in relative poverty outside the city.

The games should lead to more jobs and investment, but there are also concerns about the opportunities for corruption.

"As much as we want to win, we also understand that we can't win all the time. So if we get it I'll be happy, if we don't, well I'm not going to kill myself," one resident said.

Still it seems, given a choice, most Nigerians think Abuja should be given a chance.

SEE ALSO
Abuja 'brimming with confidence'
12 Mar 07 |  Scotland

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