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Bash Alli and his serial  blackmail must be confronted and defeated

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Thank you, gentlemen of the press, for responding to this invitation at such short notice. I am constrained to address you today to speak to the trending video and open petition to the President wherein Bash Alli, a former World Boxing Champion threw caution and decency to the wind to allege that I demanded the sum of ‘another ‘1  USD( One million dollars) from him  inorder to endorse his plan to stage what he calls the oldest boxers fight in Nigeria. When Bash Alli released his video and open letter to the President, with the sole aim to defame and destroy my reputation and integrity, some friends and associates advised that I totally ignore him and his blackmail gambit. They believe that by responding to Bash Alli and his vile campaign of calumy, I will validate and bring him to the limelight.

After a deep reflection, I have come to the inevitable conclusion that to ignore him will be a profound mistake. My reason for this is twofold. First, the perception in the public domain is that those in the public service are either thieves or kleptomaniacs  who mindlessly pillage our Commonwealth. This assumption, no matter how widely held,  is not true. Despite our challenges as a nation, there are men and women who continue to serve our country with honesty, integrity, and patriotism. I AM ONE OF SUCH. Secondly, ignoring Bash Alli  and his tradition of deploying blackmail and gutter tactics now,will further embolden and enable him to continue in his usual trajectory even after I have served out my mandate as minister of Sports, without consequences.

Gentlemen of the press, you are aware that before I was appointed to the office of Minister of Sports Development, Bash Alli had sought to mindlessly impugn the character and reputation of some of my predecessors in office, without any shred of evidence. In my own case, he has exhumed and redeployed this hydra headed monster and gone overboard because past

Ministers perhaps treated him and his wild allegations with kid gloves. To simply walk away from this baloney, for me, is not an option.

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Bash Alli’s allegation that I demanded for “another 1 million dollars”as if I had received  a first tranche of one million dollars from him,or perhaps any of my predecessors had done so,is a manufactured lie from the pit of hell. At no point in time did I demand for any form of gratification from Bash Alli. The questions to ask are these:  One million dollars from where?  If Bash Alli had one million dollars, why has he not staged his fight? His spurious allegation suffers from fatal deformity and is based on the erroneous impression that government in Nigeria is a cash cow at the mercy of public servants to pillage at will.

Let me be clear.  Bash Alli desperately wanted to meet me in my very early days as Minister of Sports Development when I had hardly settled down on the job. In the deluge of his desperate attempts, I  decided to meet him against the advice of the staff of the Ministry who were familiar with his character and antics. Against their advice, I decided to meet him out of respect for his age and based on the open door policy with which I am currently leading the Ministry. Conscious of the advice of some key staff of the Ministry, I sought to insulate myself and the office from any blackmail that may emanate from this meeting by making sure that my team was present at the meeting. He presented the issue of his pet project, and I told him to be patient while i get more briefing from the Ministry. All my life, the said meeting is the first and only time I ever met Bash Alli. There were no follow-ups after that one-off meeting, and I did not introduce any of my aides to him. After the said meeting, I politely refused to meet with him to this day in spite of his numerous requests and pressures. His incessant  messages to me will speak to his desperation.

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Gentlemen of the press, as you know, Bash Alli’s  plan to stage his boxing fight in Nigeria has a long history spanning almost two decades. To achieve this personal aspiration, he has deployed all manner of strategies including naked blackmail and under hand tactics in his desperate effort to arm twist the Federal Government to spend upwards of $50m USD to stage his fight. Successive Ministers of Sports have rightly told him that his plan to stage this fight is not the responsibility of the government but a  business that should be executed by the private sector.

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In concluding this statement, gentlemen of the press, I sincerely believe that, in spite of our numerous challenges, our country still has a soul. Our humanity will be irretrievably destroyed the day we lose our soul. Bash Alli’s desperate and unprovoked withering attack on me is an attack on decency, honesty, and integrity. The move to clear my name has just started, and there will be no let up until I achieve this sacred mission. In  addition to other remedies under the ambit of the law, I have instructed my lawyer to write Bash Alli demanding an immediate public retraction of his allegations and to render a public apology. He will have just one week to do this; the failure to do this on his part will leave me with no option than to approach the courts to both clear my name and seek damages.

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