By Mark Longyen
For the umpteenth time, Solomon Dalung, Nigeria’s Minister of Sports and Youth Development, has goofed again, this time while making a futile attempt to rubbish Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong’s decision to name a road after President Muhammadu Buhari during the President’s two days’ working visit to the state last week.
Like someone suffering from a schizophrenic attack, Dalung falsely claimed that it was the Yakubu Gowon Way, which stretches from the Plateau State Specialist Hospital Round About and terminating at TAEN OIL Junction on the Jos-Bukuru Expressway, that was renamed the new Muhammadu Buhari Way.
On the contrary, the new Muhammadu Buhari Way, actually starts from TAEN OIL Junction and terminates at Mararaban Jema’a Roundabout on the way to the Yakubu Gowon Airport, Heipang.
In an unprecedented show of shame based, perhaps, on a combination of crass ignorance and sheer political chicanery, Dalung took to his Facebook wall on Sunday March 12, 2018, to disparage Governor Lalong for honoring Buhari, thus stirring the hornets nest and precipitating controversy by lying that it was the road named after Gowon, a Plateau State indigene, that has been renamed after Buhari!
Hear him: “Another disaster of the President’s visit was the renaming of Yakubu Gowon way to Muhammadu Buhari way. To say the least, it is embarrassing. Gowon was the President’s boss how can he be stripped of a 40 years privilege and honour in his home state? This is the worst thing that can happen to a man like the elder statesman. I believed[sic] that General Gowon is feeling betrayed and abandoned by his own people.”
Dalung’s post, which is fraught with grammatical errors like one written by a child in a kindergarten, wrote further:
“This is a political decision of Lalong desperately taken to secure 2019 ambition but not the decision of the people of plateau. We condemned[sic] this act with all sense of love for Yakubu Gowon as a father, while advising Governor Alert to withdraw this unpatriotic decision and publicly apologized[sic] to Yakubu Gowon and the President for embarrassing them.
“If the visit of the president was intended to secure 2019 for Lalong, it has exposed his ambition to great risk and multiply his opponents. While re-election is the primary concern of Governor Alert, fighting, killing, maiming of innocent people continues unabated. As to how this unfolds, no doubt Plateau is under siege but army of praise singers and pyschophants whose only interest is the pockets. And history is on the verge of repeating itself again. We must all rise against injustice or else we will all consumed.[sic].
Dalung who wrote as though he had become the opposition PDP’s official spokesman added:
“Also Mr President was misled to believed[sic] that all the road networks in Jos metropolis were constructed by Governor alert. It was morally wrong for Lalong to failed[sic] to acknowledge that it was Governor Jang’s legacies. I was an ardent critic of Governor Jang’s administration but I will not fail to credit his legacies because of differences. The only projects Lalong did is the road to his house and 40 tractors…”
It would be recalled that ever since Dalung’s unfortunate ascendancy to the position of a Minister in Buhari’s cabinet over two years ago, his tenure has been trailed by one embarrassing and nauseating utterance or the other. Not a few people, including President Buhari, Nigerian sports stakeholders, the world football governing body, FIFA, as well as Plateau people who he represents at the Federal Cabinet have at various times have been embarrassed by most of the comments credited to the minister.
For instance, in November 2016, while Nigeria was making preparations to enable it to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Dalung in his characteristic blunder which has replaced Selchang, his middle name, told the BBC Hausa Service, that the country does not need to be in the world Cup, arguing that it was a waste of time and waste of scarce funds.
Haba! What manner of Sports Minister is this? So Nigeria’s participation in the prestigious Mundial is a waste of time and resources after all? While many countries are falling over themselves to secure the FIFA World Cup ticket considering that it is the world’s most glamorous sporting competition after the Olympics, our own Dalung was talking rubbish, insisting that Nigeria should instead focus on other sports.
By implication, it means that by June when the World Cup begins, if Dalung is still a minister, he’ll be leading the Nigerian contingent to Russia as the nation’s number one sportsman with the pessimistic mindset of not going to win the cup! Is it not better for him to stay away from attending the event or be sacked and replaced with a minister who would go to Russia with an optimistic or winning mentality for the Super Eagles?
Hear him: “That competition stinks of corruption; Nigeria is too poor to waste money on it; and Nigeria would never win the trophy. The cup that we can win is the African Cup of Nations. There is nothing again that will take us to another man’s balcony in the name of the World Cup. We already have the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics. For these, we can attend such meets. But I am opposed to the World Cup. We don’t agree to it. Conspiracy in the World Cup is too much.”
Dalung further embarrassed and indicted FIFA in that interview when he stated: “There is the issue of bribery and favouritism. There is also the issue of corruption before you are even given the hosting rights. We are here suffering from hunger and we don’t have money for such things.
“That is why, even if we try many times, once it gets into the politics of the game, we can never win…”
On another occasion, the minister, in another of his series of blunders goofed when he posited that Nigerian sportsmen and women don’t need adequate preparations to win medals but winning mentality alone.
“The disabled athletes have shown that all you need is a winning mentality and not too much preparation, they trained under the same condition with their able bodied counterparts but they are winning medals now,” Dalung told Brila Radio while commenting on the performance of the nation’s Paralympics. In fact, on the contrary, training is a sine qua non of every success in sports as this can be confirmed by any sports expert.
The minister also once in another blunder referred to the USA as the ‘United States of Nigeria, while speaking with journalists on the plight of the stranded Nigerian Olympics football team who were training in the USA prior to the trip to the Rio Olympics in Brazil. “Our U-23 team is suffering in the United States of Nigeria,” he was quoted as saying.
Again, Dalung fumbled again while speaking before the House of Representatives Committee on Sports when he demonstrated his poor grasp of grammar when asked about the disbursement of funds to the various sports federations, and the allegations that his ministry was corrupt.
“The funds ‘spended were properly spended because we got them from intervention funds from Mr. President,” he told the Committee who erupted in laughter.
In yet another embarrassing outing, Dalung claimed that on July 14, 2016, he traveled on sea for two hours to meet with the leadership of the militant group, Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, in Oporoza, Delta State, saying he received a sealed envelope for President Buhari containing their demands. However, this was swiftly denied by the NDA and the presidency which disowned him afterwards.
“Niger Delta Avengers can’t stoop so low to send representatives to meet with a common Minister of Youth that doesn’t know his work. Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung has been defrauded and played by Niger Delta Fraudsters,” the NDA reacted to the claim in a statement.
On Friday last week when the President was inaugurating the 400 tractors for the Plateau State Tractor Borrowing Scheme, Dalung was conspicuously absent. He instead smuggled his way to a radio station in Jos at the same time castigating the governor and disparaging the presidential visit!
As if under a spell, Dalung continues to embarrass himself, his principal, his followers and the people of Plateau State in an open ended show of shame since he became a minister. For how Lang will he continue to do this?
The truth is that Dalung is an inconsequential political figure in the APC and Plateau State politics, who cannot win an election even for Chairman of his relatively remote and tiny Langtang South Local Government where he was once interim chairman during the illegal state of emergency in 2006. It is a clear case of Lilliputian masquerading as a Giant, period.
He has never won an election in the state and even in his bid for the APC governorship ticket in 2014 he came a distant 3rd position against Prof Emmanuel Garba and Governor Lalong who came second and first respectively. Lest we forget, the APC lost the 2015 governorship election in his local government, which further reinforces this position. What Dalung deserves right now is the exit door of Buhari’s cabinet and a proper replacement found, having become a political liability rather than an asset to the APC and the state.
Longyen is the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong.