Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung has debunked all the allegations of corruption, embodiment of bad administration and injustice levelled against him by World Boxing Federation (WBF) champion, Bashiru Lawrence Ali.
Ali had written a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari alleging that 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 as they deliberately tried to use their official positions to subvert his ambition to stage a Guinness Book of World Record Boxing Championship in Nigeria.
Ali, who is fondly called Bash Ali, went on to also alleged in the letter that the Minister and the sports ministry officials in conjunction with a top ranking official of the Presidency are frustrating his effort with the demand of gratification of a $100 million from the $750 million Pay Per View television profits from the Guinness World Record Boxing Championship fight otherwise this historic event will not see the light of the day in Nigeria.
While speaking Saturday night on the issue of Ali, the world title fight and the allegation of corruption, the Minister said it was interesting Bash Ali could come out to lie against him in the letter sent to Mr. President.
Dalung painstakingly explained how he met the boxer who, when he assumed office, sent series of text messages to inform him about the Guinness Book of World Record Boxing Championship.
“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.
“I’m so glad for this call to clarify what Bash Ali said he has written, I cannot ask him to give me money because of his fight,” the minister noted.