- Sports minister: It’s a lie I’m not corrupt
World Boxing Federation, WBF, cruiserweight champion, Bash Ali has ruffled some feathers with emphatic corruption allegations against Sports minister, Solomon Dalung, the Permanent Secretary of the Sports Ministry, Christian Ohaa, National Sports Commission Director General, Alhassan Yakmut and Grassroots Sports Director of the NSC, Mr. Aare.
In a two-page letter sent to President Muhammadu Buhari outlined the offences the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung and some other government officials, accusing them of deliberately subverting his dream of staging a Guinness World Record Boxing Championship in Nigeria.
Ali alleged in the letter that “a high ranking official at the Presidency, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, the Permanent Secretary of the Sports Ministry, Christian Ohaa, National Sports Commission Director General, Alhassan Yakmut and Grassroots Sports Director of the NSC, Mr. Aare are corrupt, embodiment of bad administration and injustice.”
According to him, “they are frustrating my effort to bring honour, glory and clean money to Nigeria because they are demanding through a member of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for a $100 million from the $750 million Pay Per View television profits which would be accrued to the country from the proposed Guinness World Record Boxing Championship fight. They threatened that otherwise this historic event will not see the light of the day in Nigeria.
“These people through their contact in the Presidency have blocked all my letters to you, so if within five days I do not get a reply from you, then I will know that as usual it has been blocked then I will make it available to the media for you to read, hear and see these bad people in your cabinet,” Ali said.
The Edo state-born pugilist told President Buhari that he has records of series of text messages to show the communications between him, the PDP man, Minister Dalung, Permanent Secretary Ohaa and NSC DG, Yakmut, transcripts of which was made available to Nigerian Pilot Sports.
“Your Excellency, I have many threats to my life that if I expose them I will not live to tell my story, but if I’m lucky to still be alive when you get this letter, I will be able to shed light on these people and on the text messages if you need me, and if as promised they are lucky to kill me, do not allow them to get away with murder please,” he said.
Ali recalled how badly he was treated during the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan by corrupt officials. “Because I refused to bow to corruption, I spent 24 hours at the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) cell and 41 days (18 February-5 April, 2015) at Kuje Prison on trumped up charges. I will again gladly to go back to SARS cell and Kuje Prison if this is the price I have to pay in order to bring honour, glory and clean money to my country, Nigeria.”
The Federal Government had twice on 9 November, 2006, during Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime and 7 January, 2014, during Jonathan’s government, inaugurated a Local Organising Committee (LOC) with instructions to organise the Guinness Book of World Record bout in Nigeria.
In his reaction, Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung debunked all the allegations of corruption, embodiment of bad administration and injustice levelled against him by Bash Alli.
“When Ali came forward with his proposed fight, I was so happy to hear it because I believe strongly that anybody with a good project, which will be self sponsored, that will benefit the government and the good people of Nigeria should be supported.
“He wrote a letter to me and I minuted on it to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, who I directed to constitute a committee to advise the ministry on the viability of the project.
“What the committee concluded was that there is no guarantee of what Bash Ali intended to do about the fight especially how the government can benefit from it. Even if we invest in the project, there is no guarantee of how we can recover our investment.
“The amazing thing was that he could not provide investors for the fight, all what he was interested was a letter of guarantee from the government. With this advice, we had to hands off from going ahead and more importantly government has no money to go into a project like that now.
“The fight is a private sector thing, which government cannot afford to take up. I could remember the Lagos City Marathon recently organised was sponsored by Access Bank without any money coming out from the government. This is a kind of arrangement we want from any of the organisers who want to stage sporting events in the country. Why will Bash Ali ask us to come and fund his project? He can go ahead to organise what he likes to do. We are looking forward to people who will come around to invest in sports in the country,” the minister narrated.
On the allegation of demand for gratification of $100 million from the Pay Per View Television profits, Dalung said: “After he was told about our position on this fight, he continued to send series of messages to me that I was an arrogant person. I want to put the record straight, I did not demand for any money from Bash Ali. Even looking at him, he doesn’t resemble a person that can give anybody $1,000 not to talk of $1 million or $100 million. I will advise that if he has $1 million, this is enough for him to organise his fight. Where will he even get the money?
“Concerning my people in the ministry who he said approached him for money, this is an interesting allegation which I will investigate properly to ascertain the truth of the matter and if anybody is found culpable, there will be serious and appropriate sanctions. I would only want Bash Ali to come forward to proof his allegations and he too should know that if he is telling lies, we have appropriate law that we would apply on him.