By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Federal Government yesterday foreclosed any involved in the proposed Guinness Book World Boxing Project being promoted by Nigeria’s former World Cruiserweight champion, Bash Ali.
John Joshua Akanji, the Special Adviser on Media to the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, stated in a statement on Sunday that the proposed
fight falls under the purview of the Nigerian Boxing Board of Control (NBBofC) which is purely a business concern.
Bash Ali in 1985 made history as the first World Boxing Federation (WBF) cruiser-weight boxing champion from Africa. The 63-year old pugilist has not had any professional fight in the last one and half decades.
He has kept this dream of a place in the Guinness Book as the oldest boxer to win a world title going for more than 15 years with no clear sign of the bout taking place.
According to the ministerial aide, the government position is not new as the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development had in previous documents and correspondences with Bash Ali, through his lawyer, B.O. Nafagha & Co., notified him of the decision not to be involved in the proposed fight.
“ We are using this medium to ask Bash Ali to refrain from acts that interfere with the activities of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, where the former World Cruiserweight Champion has been pressuring officials to endorse the fight,” observed Akanji in the statement.
He said Bash Ali has now lost the ability to coerce the Ministry into supporting the novelty bout.
He said that the ministry was directed by the Presidency not to interfere in a matter over which another organization has jurisdiction.
“The situation has been made worse recently when the boxer showed up at the Ministry with a bag that he claimed contained N2million which he said was the balance left from a N15 million out-of-court settlement after paying his lawyers,” claimed the Special Adviser to the minister.
Ali was advised to use the Remita platform if he was interested in making refunds to the Federal Government in line with the Treasury Single Account practice.
A letter written to Bash Ali’s lawyer read in part: “the Ministry under the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari in a letter dated 10th March, 2020 made it clear that it is not the proper platform for your client to realize his pet project.”
It further said “And as a final note I am directed to advise your client to restrain from engaging in any act capable of creating a difficult atmosphere for the Ministry and its staff to carry out their functions.”