25 April 2014

Nigeria: Surely Not, SURE-P


THE Subsidy Re-Investment and Empowerment Programme, SURE-P, is one of the barely understood programmes of the Federal Government. Its broadly stated objective is to utilise money government saves from selling petroleum at N97 per litre, to ameliorate conditions of poor Nigerians.

We are not about appraising SURE-P but we are alarmed that SURE-P is over-stepping its mandate and ignoring the responsibility managing public resources imposes on it. Media reports of the decision of its Chairman, Gen. Martin-Luther Agwai, to sponsor a purported fight that cruiserweight boxer, Mr. Bash Ali, is promoting should be stopped immediately. Public funds should not be invested in a phantom venture that Mr. Ali has been at for more than eight years.

Each new Minister, every new public institution, every gullible public officer is fertile platform for Mr. Ali's dream of making the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest boxer to fight for a world title.

The truth, as it has been since Mr. Ali's dream, is that there is no fight in the frame. The proof is everywhere, but Mr. Ali, drawing the gullible into his dramatics, keeps claiming he would bring honours to Nigeria.

SURE-P's unsuspecting chairman is the current target. Mr. Ali wants $1 million, which according to him, the International Boxing Union, IBU, is demanding as sanction fees for the fight. Mr. Ali says he would deposit $29 million with IBU, the boxers' prize money, once Nigeria pays the $1 million.

Has anyone asked Mr. Ali why he cannot pay the $1 million from his $29 million? Since he is one of the boxers, what would a reduction of $1 million to his purse cost him? Why should he allow a venture he said would earn Nigeria $500 million die?

The reasons are simple - there is no fight, no dime to be made. Mr. Ali has been telling his fairy tales since President Obasanjo.

Ricky Camlin of USA, his supposed opponent and IBU champion, is not IBU-ranked. IBU's cruiserweight class is vacant according to its February 2014 rankings.

IBU noted, "Number 8 Bash Ali dropped from rankings due to extended period of inactivity. Replaced by Glen Johnson". Mr. Ali last fought in 2004. All he has done since then is canvassing public funds to stage the world record fight.

Agwai, apparently sold on Mr. Ali's tales said, "If we can produce in every geo-political zone one Bash Ali, that means we are going to get at least six world champions. We should never as a country, individuals, collectively allow this great dream to die."

We warn again that it is time we ended Mr. Ali's nightmare. Public resources should not be committed to this enduring dubiety.

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