It was a piece of cheering news for some section of sports stakeholders in Nigeria after the name of Barr. Solomon Dalung was omitted from the Ministerial list that President Muhammadu Buhari submitted to the Senate on Tuesday.
Before now, it was almost expected that Dalung would return for another term under Buhari’s administration having been named as part of the government delegation to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt. But for some unforeseen reasons, his name was omitted from the party that travelled to the land of Pharoahs.
Dalung, who was appointed Sports Minister in 2015 during the first tenure of Buhari, had several controversial issues with sports personalities in the country and his poor understanding with the game.
His appointment was greeted with discordant tunes from the sports family considering the fact that Nigerians had wanted the President to appoint someone with sports experience generally.
On his assumption to office, he assured sports-loving Nigerians of his mission to revitalize the decadence in the nation’s sports, most especially reconstructing the Main Bowl of the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.
He also promised to change the face of swimming in the country, by organizing an event that would produce a medal for the athletes. However, the story changed with the promises he made when he assumed office.
Dalung could hardly associate with some of the nation’s sporting events such as Basketball, Volleyball, Tennis, Boxing, Wrestling, Squash, to mention a few.
To this end, with the omission of Dalung from Buhari’s next level ministerial list, will it help chart a new way for the nation’s sports? One would hope so given the gaffes the Plateau indigene made during his time as a Minister.
But with the names of ministerial nominees presented by the President, it’s quite difficult to see how sports generally would develop considering the fact that none of them has had any association with sports.
Some of Dalung’s controversial comments Include
According to Solomon Dalung, the NFF was not particularly prepared for another Falcons win, hence the delays in processing their payments. Dalung’s cringe-worthy and embarrassing defence was summed up in a quote that laid bare the inner workings of his ministry and its fatal romance with mediocrity.
The Sports Minister told reporters, “Don’t forget that nobody even knew the team (Super Falcons) will emerge victoriously. If we were confident they will emerge victoriously, all the federation would have done is to plan for the process of participation and entitlement.’’
Olympic Team Embarrassment
Again, Dalung who alongside the National Olympic Committee was under fire for the logistics mess retorted sharply at journalists, “Who took them there? What are they there for? Because they are under 23 and they went to the US. Now they are having problems, does that become our business?” The team eventually arrived in Rio, a few hours before their opening match against Japan. They were also responsible for Nigeria’s sole medal, a Bronze at Rio.
FIFA World Cup, Russia 2018
Also, during the November international break, while serious nations busied themselves with Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers, Minister Dalung had some advice for the President.
He dished without an ounce of irony, or shame, “The cup that we (Nigeria) 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.”
In addition, while commending the Paralympic team for their impressive performance at the Rio Summer Olympics, Dalung in an interview with Lagos’ Brila FM, played down the importance of adequate preparations for big-picture events like the Olympics, hinting of a shocking cluelessness as to how systems work. Hear him, “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.” This from a federal minister of sports.
Perhaps, Buhari would have been applauded if personalities such as Segun Odegbami, Mitchel Obi, Aisha Falode, Mumuni Alao of Completesports, Adegboye Onigbinde, to mention a few, as the nation’s sports minister.
However, with the list out, it is believed that former, Akwa Ibom State governor, Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom) could be appointed the next Sports Minister based on his exploit in his state during his eight years stint. It was during his administration that the state-of-the-art Godswill Akpabio International Stadium was constructed. He is also a lover of sports and football to some extent based on his achievements in the state.