Niger Delta Affairs Ministry is coughing out a whooping $10.2m about (N1.7bn) from its 2010 budget for the sponsorship of the lingering World Cruiser Weight Boxing Tournament between Bash Ali of Nigeria and Gunn of United States, The Tide can now reveal.
The Guinness World Records’ tournament to be hosted by Nigeria at Tinapa resort, Calabar is at the instance of the Atlanta, Georgia – based International Boxing Union (IBU) and has received the endorsement of Nigerian authorities – the presidency, National Assembly, Sports Ministry and National Sports Commission (NSC). If Ali wins, his (and Nigeria’s) name could enter Guinness book of Records as the oldest boxer ever to win such a tournament.
The fight earlier slated for December 12, 2009 could not hold due to apathy and doubt about the authenticity of the fight on the part of Sports Ministry authorities which invariably affected the sponsorship.
To protect what he viewed as a deliberate attempt by the Federal Ministry of Sports to frustrate him, Bash Alli, Nigeria’s World Cruiser Weight Champion and holder of the highest national honour ever given to a Nigerian athlete, Officer of the order of the Niger (OON) resorted to staying at Force Headquarters Bus stop, directly opposite the Nigerian Police Headquarters, along Shehu Shagari Way, Abuja which he adorned with banners highlighting his plight.
The Tide learnt that the decision of the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry to sponsor the fight was borne out of the conviction of the Ministry’s officials, particularly the Minister, Chief Ufot Ekaette that the fight is a viable project that is good for the nation and indeed, the Niger Delta region, – Bash Alli being a Niger Deltan, from Delta State, although he grew-up in Lagos.
The Ministry first signaled its intention to sponsor the fight via a letter to the Chairman, National Sports Commission, dated August 27, 2009 and signed by one Dahaltu Sule for the Minister.
Titled; Membership in a Committee; with Reference No. CYD/01/07/VOL.1/45, the letter which copy The Tide got in the course of our investigation into the sponsorship of the imminent fight, reads: “I am directed to inform you that the Ministry is in the process of supporting an International Boxing Tournament between Bash Ali of Nigeria and John Keelon of Britain (the opponent of Bash Ali at the time)
“We are therefore seeking for your nominee to serve as member of the committee that will work out the modalities on how to arrange and finance the tournament. Your nominee should be an officer not below the rank of Assistant Director. Please accept the Honourable Minister’s best regard”.
Our investigation shows that although the letter was dispatched and stamped: “Received” on the same day that it was written (August 27, 2009), the National Sports Commission (NSC) did not nominate anybody as requested by the Niger Delta Ministry and that forestalled the composition of the Sponsorship and local Organizing committee for the World Boxing tournament.
The Tide learnt in Abuja that while the imbroglio occasioned by the NSC lasted, Ali protested to President, Umaru Yar’Adua via a letter dated September 28, 2009 and the office of the President reacted promptly by directing the Minister of Sports to “kindly treat as deemed appropriate”.
The President’s letter, dated September 30, 2009 with Reference No: SH/PSP/22/111 and signed by the Principal Secretary to the President, Mr. David Edevbie is titled: “Re: Bash Ali Boxing Project: Local Organizing Committee”
It reads: “I write with reference to a letter dated September 2009 (copy attached) to His Excellency, Mr. President, from Mr. Bash Ali, OON, World Boxing Champion, regarding the above mentioned subject matter. I should be grateful if you would kindly treat as deemed appropriate. Please accept, Honourable Minister, the assurances of my highest consideration and esteem.”
Our Abuja correspondent reports that there was still inaction in spite of the President’s letter, prompting the intervention of the House of Representatives which deliberated on a motion on the tournament on October 14 and directed the Minister of Sports and Chairman of NSC via a letter signed by Clerk of the House, Mr. Niyi Ajiboye on October 15 “to nominate a member to join the Local Organising Committee of the World Boxing Championship to enable Nigeria satisfy the condition precedent required for actualization of the hosting right which would expire on Friday 16th October, 2009”
The Tide learnt that it was at this point that Sports Ministry and NSC officials nominated a member into the tournament’s LOC but it was rather too late as the Niger Delta Ministry was said to have spent the money earlier earmarked for the championship, prompting the Minister (Chief Ekaette) to be invited by the House Committee on Appropriation and assured that the N1.7 billion if included in the Ministry’s 2010 budget, would be approved by the House.
Informed Sources at the House Committee on Appropriation told The Tide last week that the committee received assurance from Chief Ekaette that the amount would be reflected in the Ministry’s 2010 budget and would be used solely for the purpose – sponsorship of Bash Alli Guinness World Record Title Fight;
When The Tide called at the Ministry office yesterday in Abuja to confirm this, the Hon minister was said not to be on seat but his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Osamor claimed ignorance of the development, saying “I’m not aware of that”. However, Bash Alli when contacted at his Force Headquarters Bus Stop temporary abode confirmed the development.
Ali told The Tide “I met (Chief) Ufot Ekaette, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Ministry on December 22, 2009 at the National Assembly and he agreed before the chairman and members of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriation that this is a viable project and it’s very good for the Niger Delta so they asked him to go and put it in his (Ministry’s 2010) budget, and that it will be approved so this is where we are, as at today.”
The world renowned pugilist who is referred to in New York Times as one of the greatest boxers to emerge from this part of the world thanked the Cross River State Government for donating the Venue of the fight and supporting with accommodation, food and drinks while berating Sports Ministry and NSC officials for their inaction which has delayed the fight till now and prompted its re-scheduling from December 12, 2009 to February 27, 2010, which is Ali’s 54th Birthday.
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
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