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Since his appointment, Solomon Dalung has been the rare public figure that just cannot get anything right. Nigeria has had its fair share of loathsome ministers but the public derision for Dalung is on another level entirely. His sins are a vile mix of incompetence with tactlessness, a disturbing lack of empathy plus an abysmal failure to comprehend the very basic idea of what public service is about.

His insistence on dressing up to official functions in brown Khakis and a beret- red or black depending on his mood, in the manner of some wannabe revolutionary has not exactly helped his public perception.

But even the strongest critics of Dalung’s fashion sense - or lack of it - would have let him be if he went about his duties with a sense of competence, or even urgency. For the man from Langtang, it has been one incredible public gaffe after the other, the frequency of which has been quite surprising. It seems that there is barely time to recover from the last Dalung embarrassment before another occurs.
Litany of Mis-steps
One of Solomon Dalung’s early assignments as minister was his controversial attempt to ‘’settle’’ the leadership crisis in the National Football Federation (NFF), one in which both Christopher Giwa, of Giwa FC and Amaju Pinnick, both laid claim to the Presidency of the NFF. This was a strange, and needless move by Dalung as FIFA had officially recognised Amaju Pinnick’s leadership and Giwa’s appeal was subsequently thrown out by the Court of Arbitration for Sports.  The crisis reached a boiling point when policemen were drafted to seal the NFF headquarters in order to protect law and order.
Dalung was once quoted as saying that the Sports Ministry is more lucrative than Petroleum and it may well be so, however his ministry was unable to account for N2.9 billion released by the Federal Government for participation of Nigeria’s contingent at the 2015 All Africa Games in Congo and preparations for the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. This was partly responsible for Team Nigeria’s poor showing at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics as the Federal Government was unwilling to release fresh funds pending the balancing of accounts. The Minister on assumption of office promised to eradicate corruption from the ministry.
The road to the Rio Olympics was indeed rough and it is a wonder the country was eventually able to get on the medal table with one medal. At the opening ceremony, team Nigeria greeted the world in their plain tracksuits after it so happened that the designer outfits budgeted for the occasion failed to arrive Rio on time.
Before this, the Samson Siasia led Under-23 football team that was camped in Atlanta prior to the Olympics found themselves stranded as they could not get a suitable plane to lift them from Atlanta to Rio. At a Q&A session, 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 Rio with the help of philanthropist Yemi Idowu, a few hours before their opening match against Japan. They were also responsible for Nigeria’s sole medal, a bronze, at Rio.
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.”
He later claimed to be quoted out of context (his go-to excuse following every gaffe) but this announcement prompted Vanguard newspapers to pronounce him as the ‘’anti-sports minister’’ in a stinging editorial that also called for the President to reject his advice.
While commending the Paralympic team for their impressive performance at the Rio Summer Olympics, Dalung in an interview with Lagos based 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.
Bungling Dalung
Other examples of Minister Dalung’s acts of incompetence and inability to measure up to the demands of his office include:
-          The NFF’S (which he supervises) bungled and shoddy participation in the burial activities of football hero, Stephen Keshi,  
-          The embarrassing incident of athletes being directed by Ministry of Sports officials to make their own way to Rio, prompting the kick-off of GoFundMe campaigns in some quarters.
-          The saga of the Super Falcons in December that Dalung got his biggest push back. The female national football team, the Super Falcons won a record tenth African Women Cup of Nations but despite their efforts at bringing honour to the country yet again, the girls were thoroughly humiliated while the world looked on. Learning from experience, the Falcons refused to leave their hotel rooms in Abuja and were forced to embark on protests at the National Assembly building before their allowances and bonuses were eventually paid. It was indeed a show of shame as the country watched in dismay, the shoddy Nigerian reward for excellence in service. Dalung was caught in the thick of it and was forced to defend his role and his government.
To the world’s amazement, Solomon Dalung revealed that 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 victorious. If we were confident they will emerge victorious, all the Federation would have done is to plan for process of participation and entitlement.’’
It was the quote heard around the world and Nigerians, weary of Dalung’s streak of reckless comments and unguarded actions were quick to call for his resignation.
Youth Service or Servants?
The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), another agency under Dalung’s supervision, has been in the news mostly for negative reasons. In 2016, three Batch B (Stream 1) corps members participating in the orientation course lost their lives in various circumstances at NYSC camps in Bayelsa, Kano and Zamfara states.
The NYSC was quick to absolve itself of any negligence in the corpers’ deaths but the tragedies placed a beam on NYSC practices and the culture of care for the young lives placed under government care via the compulsory scheme. Distraught parents and relatives of the deceased demanded that responsible officials be brought however nothing has happened yet.
According to news reports picked by various national dailies, the Presidency is considering a cabinet reshuffle with another four year tenure secured at the 2019 polls. Going by Buhari’s unhurried style, many aren’t hopeful that he pulls off a reshuffle soon enough despite the fact that a good number of his ministers have not pulled their weights in the dispatch of their duties and meeting targets for their respective portfolios.
Nigerians do not expect the Sports Minister to survive a reshuffle going by public outcry and his dismal performance in office. Some other ministers are underperforming as well, but while they have mostly stayed out of the public glare, Dalung’s follies, gaffes and mis-steps are well chronicled and are well amplified in the public space.

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