I will, most honestly and patriotically describe the last 4 years of the President Muhammadu Buhari government as quite uneventful, below average, colourless, clueless, vindictive, selective, exclusionary, non-nationalistic, non-pan-Nigerian, hemorrhaging economically and highly sectional, cronystic and prebendaslistic. In terms of security, its performance is below par, since whatever gain he would have made in the much trumpeted degradation of Boko Haram (you and I know this is merely theoretical as the sect is more deadly today than ever before) has been replaced with a more potent escalation of Herdsmen insurgency and unrestrained banditry. Nigeria has been turned into a gruesome killing field by rampaging gunwielding bandits of different genre.
The economy is in tatters and at the lowest ebb. Hunger, squalor, ignorance, despondency, abject penury, corruption, hopelessness and haplessness have been enthroned as fundamental objectives and directive principles of State Policy.
Never before since the forcible and un-negotiated amalgamation of Southern and Northern Nigeria by Lugard on 1st January 1914, has Nigeria witnessed such nightmare of poor governance. The people have been reduced to the “living dead” or “walking corpses” (courtesy, Ayo Kwei Armah, in his epic, “The Beautiful Ones are not yet born”). Rule of Law has been replaced with Rule of might and of the thumb. Fundamental rights of citizens are wantonly breached.
Disobedience to valid court orders has become a norm. Corruption is on the ascendancy, rising geometrically where it used to be antithetical. Only a tiny cabalistic few have unrestrained access to the national treasury. Yet, when traumatised citizens complain, they are dismissed with a wave of the hand as “wailing wailers”. Budgets are padded, even disappear. There is hardly any form of accountability and transparency in governance as the government is run in a most opaque manner, like the nocturnal activities of witches and wizards in a coven. God deliver Nigeria and Nigerians, amen.
GANIAT FAWEHINMI AND BASH ALI: TWO OF A KIND (PART 2) INTRODUCTION
In the words of Alexander Hamilton, “there is a certain enthusiasm in liberty that makes human nature rise above itself, in acts of bravery and heroism”. On this note, we shall continue and conclude our discourse into the above topic, having extensively discussed Mrs Ganiat Fawehinmi last week. The same can be said of Bashiru Lawrence Ali (popularly called Bash Ali), who has already proved himself to be one of the greatest boxers in history, and is still hungry for more successes. Today, his sights are set at becoming the World’s oldest boxing champion. Both Ganiat and Bash Ali are two of a kind.
BASHIRU LAWRENCE ALI EARLY LIFE
Bashiru Lawrence Ali, best known as “Bash Ali”, is a Nigerian boxer. He was born in Lagos, Nigeria, on 27th February, 1956. Bash Ali ventured into boxing by ‘mere coincidence’, as he was previously a wrestler.
ALI’S ARRIVAL AT THE INTERNATIONAL SCENE
The very first time Bash Ali would step into the ring as a professional hard-hitter was in 1978 at the Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento, USA. It does not matter that he lost his debut match against Wilbert Albers. A legend had already been born and he was relentless.
This first defeat could easily have swayed him off the path of boxing. However, he picked himself up from the ruins and disgrace of the loss, and went on to win several regional and minor titles such as, United States Boxing Association (UBSA) Cruiserweight title (1980); USA California State Cruiserweight title (1984); North American Boxing Federation (NABF) Cruiserweight title (1985); WBC International Cruiserweight title (1987); Nigerian Heavyweight title (1988); World Boxing Council (WBC) International Cruiserweight title (1990); and African Boxing Union Heavyweight title (1993). After gaining worldwide fame upon being bestowed the World Boxing Federation (WBF) Cruiserweight Title on September 11, 2000, and August 15, 2004, Ali has since looked onto a different challenge – entering the Guinness Book of World Record as the oldest boxer ever. This is an aspiration that started under successive governments, starting with Olusegun Obasanjo’s presidency and thereafter other presidencies. After several fights, punches, knock out, defeats and victories, Bash finally attained the WBF Cruiserweight title after he defeated Terry Ray with a knock-out on September 9, 2000.
He refused to give Terry Ray a return match as he had an even bigger contender in Canada. This refusal caused him to be stripped of his title by the WBF, an act which a court in California deemed as unjust and thereby overturned it, stating that Bash could never lose his title unless inside the ring. So, since Bash Ali has not been beaten inside the ring ever since, he remains the WBF Cruiserweight Champion.
ALI’S QUEST TO BECOME THE OLDEST BOXER
Ali’s quest to become the oldest boxer to have ever fought a competitive match has been halted twice. Even after being inaugurated by two Local Organizing Committees (LOCs), the project has witnessed unnecessary prolongations as a result of corruption. However, Bash Ali has neither refused to succumb to the pressure of corruption, nor has he embraced impossibility as a credo. He still believes that at over 63, he is more than capable of defeating 32-year old International Boxing Union (IBU) boxer from the USA, thereby making him the oldest competitive boxer in history. Steve Ward, British Cruiserweight, currently holds this title at 59. Before him, it was Bernard Hopkins at 49. In 1994, George Foreman had first set the record as the oldest boxer of all times when he won the title at 45. For footballers, it is 35 years for retirement.
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN GANIAT AND BASH ALI, THE TWO PILLARS OF STRENGTH
Although being different people from different backgrounds and walks of life, it is certainly obvious that Ganiat and Bash are synonymous with strong will, strength and determination. They are both gunning for the betterment of the country, although through different routes. Bash Ali has strengthened Nigerians by acting as a role model and showing the spirit of perseverance, endurance and strong will. Even at 63, he believes he is ever so fit. In his interview with Vanguard reporter, Jacob Ajom, Ali said: “I will surprise the world. I am in top shape and ready for the fight. If you doubt me, come watch me train.”
He has on several occasions had hurdles placed on his way. He also faced threats from IBU chairman, Don “Moose” Lewis, who declared that the fight must hold before June 28, 2019. His aging body which is not as agile as it once was, the provocations, detentions and numerous court appearances have not dissuaded him. Apart from his personal ambition to become a Guinness World Record holder, he is pursuing this fight to bring pride and honour to Nigeria. Hence, his adamant request that the fight must take place in Nigeria.
For this, he once rejected a 45 million Euros deal to fight in Germany. That is true patriotism. Nigerians are behind you, Bash. Make us proud when the fight comes up in October, 2019.
As Bash Ali seeks to fight for Nigeria, Ganiat seeks to continue the legacy of her husband for a better Nigeria. For both of them, money is not the end game. She once bemoaned the act of some human rights Activists who joined government or stopped fighting government because they wanted their “bread and butter”. She admonished them that money was not everything.
AND THIS CONCLUSION
In Ganiat and Bash Ali, the world can see shining examples of persons who, each day, take up their fight rather than cower in the face of adversity. They are proof that governments can be opposed, critiqued and fought. They have given their lives, each in their own way, for the betterment of Nigeria.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“Strong government doesn’t mean simply military power or an efficient intelligence apparatus. Instead, it should mean effective, fair administration – in other words, ‘good governance”. (Raghuram Rajan).
Nigerians, thank you for keeping faith with the Sunday Sermon on the Mount of the Nigerian Project by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb., Ph.D, LL.D, even as you await the next explosive dissertation.
• Follow me on twitter @ MikeozekhomeSAN
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