BY MONICA IHEAKAM
Barrister Solomon Dalong was born on September 26, 1964 in the town of Sabon Gida, Langtang South Local Council in Plateau State.
He had his primary education at LEA Primary School Sabon Gida from 1971 to 1977. He then proceeded to Government College Keffi, currently in Nassarawa State, for his secondary school education before joining the Nigerian Prisons Service where he rose to the rank of Assistant Inspector of Prisons.
Dalung studied law at the University of Jos, graduating in 1999 before proceeding to the Nigerian Law School, Bwari, in Abuja, and graduated in 2000. He was called to the Bar in 2001.
In 2004, he took up an appointment with the Faculty of Law in the University of Jos as a lecturer. He made an attempt at representing Langtang North and South at the National Assembly but lost.
Was Dalung the kind of sports Minister Nigerians wanted?
Solomon Dalung, is by far Nigeria’s most unpopular Minister of Sports so far. Prior to his appointment in November 2015, Dalung had no clear cut experience in the sporting world and has never held any high profile administrative position in sports.
Many are bewildered on how Nigeria with all her abundant human resources bustling with brilliance in virtually all spheres of human endeavor both home and abroad ended up with a Dalung as Sports Minister?
The minister whose dressing of Kahki and red cap is taken after Che Guevera, a revolutionist who dedicated his life to the struggle of the common people and Thomas Sankara, has continued to be in the news and most times trending for the wrong reasons.
From the day the lawyer and former lecturer, was appointed Sports Minister, there were raised eyebrows. His mismanagement of the Sports Ministry has manifested in many forms.
He came under heavy criticism by sports loving Nigerians following the poor performance of the country’s contingents to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
Nigerian athletes had to participate in the opening ceremonies wearing track suits rather than the special attires displaying our cultural elegance.
Team Nigeria Captain, Mikel Obi, could not be part of the opening ceremony because of Nigeria’s shoddy arrangement. Dalung also created confusion in the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) by needlessly reawakening the rivalry between contenders for its leadership.
His many embarrassing quotes
On Super Falcons bonus protest:
Barely 24 hours after the Federal Government blamed recession for its inability to pay match bonuses of the victorious Super Falcons at the just concluded African Women Championship, the Sports Minister Solomon Dalung said they were never expected to win the trophy.
Although the Super Falcons went into the tournament as defending champions and favourites, Dalung claimed that their triumph in Cameroon somehow came as a surprise and the authorities were not prepared for it.
“Don’t forget that nobody even knew the team would 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.” Dalung told State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
On the World Cup:
For a competition that is perhaps rivaled only by the Olympic Games, our number one sports man, insists that it amounts to a sheer waste of time to be a part of this.
Having participated in the World Cup five times and averaging the 16th place as best performance, Dalung insists that the nation would be better off participating in other sporting events.
“That competition stinks of corruption; Nigeria is too poor to waste money on it.” “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.”
At the wake of Nigerian athletes’ outstanding performance at the Paralympics, the sports minister, speaking with Brila FM, infuriated sports lovers by saying that, “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.”
Dream Team and “United States of Nigeria”
While fielding questions from newsmen about the Dream Team’s inability to fly out to Rio for the Olympic Games, Dalung got many people furious when he referred to Nigeria as the ‘United States of Nigeria.’
He said, “Our U-23 team is suffering in the United States of Nigeria.”
And as the county’s U-23 football team was on a tour of the United States, seeking to replicate the success of the 1996 gold-medal-winning team, Dalung left many hanging when he said he was unaware of the team’s tour of the States. In his words, “The issue of our U23 National team suffering in the United States of America is news to me. In fact I am hearing it from you (the media) for the first time.”
Adding further salt to the injury, he questioned the team’s stay in Obama’s land, saying that they were not sent there. His words were: “They (Nigeria U23) didn’t tell us what they were there for and who took them there. It doesn’t mean that if somebody goes to the market and has problem then you will come and ask the ministry. The question is who took them there? And what are they there for?
“Because they are U23 national team, they went to the US and they are having problems, does that become our business? When they were traveling to the US, from your information, were you told that we were informed? Before you (the media) asked us to account for something you should know whether we are aware of it.”
Unconcerned about the threat to throw the Olympic Eagles out of their hostel in Atlanta, he said: “If they are throwing them out of the hotel then they should meet who took them there.
“They were supposed to be given a letter approving they are travelling from the minister’s office. Then if they ask me, I will tell you that I approved it and this is the reason.”
As criticism piled up against the minister on the poor state of Nigeria’s Dream Team camp and players’ welfare, he was quoted in a press statement by the media assistant, Nneka Anibeze, as asking John Mikel Obi (who later denied it) to be in charge of the team as a form of punishment to their coach, Samson Siasia.
“There is no doubt that the ministry was not considered while plans were being made for the Olympic football team,” read the statement. Continuing, the release said: “Nevertheless, we shall intervene to remedy the situation.
I have appealed to the captain to assume control of the team and restore sanity. For officials who decided to violate the code of their profession and take to media rampage(sic) to secure cheap blackmail, their conduct will definitely be measured with existing rules.”
Appointment Gernot Rohr:
Again, Solomon Dalung embarrassed us and himself in the eyes of the world.
Nigeria Football Federation appointed German coach, Gernot Rohr, and our honourable minister claimed that he was not aware of the appointment. It is unimaginable how a football federation would take such step without the consent of the sport minister.
“I am not aware we have a new coach”
His Facebook visit to
On April 6, 2016 Solomon Dalung, goofed big time when he posted pictures from a football match he attended at an IDP camp. In his Facebook post, he referred to the state he went to as ‘Gongola State’. Which was created in 1976 and ceased to exist in August 1991 when Taraba and Adamawa States were created from it.
“I attended a football match between Internally Displaced Persons IDPs of Gongola State and footballers from the Diplomatic Community yesterday to mark the United Nations International Day of Sports for Peace and Development….”
After his followers called him out for the mistake, he quickly changed his caption to ‘old Gongola State’. But it was too late. The original screenshot had already gone viral on social media.