Barr. Solomon Dalung is not new to the people of Plateau state and Nigeria. He rose from a humble beginning in Langtang South Local Government Area of Plateau state. Over the years, he has been an anti corruption crusader, public affairs analyst, and humanitarian through the Solomon Dalung Foundation. Today, by virtue of his political credentials, President Buhari saw fit to appoint him the Minister of Youth and Sports Development after the 2015 general elections. He contested the APC governorship primaries in 2015 but lost to the incumbent Governor Barr. Simon Bako Lalong. Dalung has been widely criticised recently by a cross section of Nigerians on what they termed his bad composition of media team that could effectively manage his public discourse. In this chat with the minister’s Personal assistant, Comrade Genshak Golak cleared some doubts about the minister and reeled out what people need to know about his achievements. Excerpts…
ViewPoint- What do you think are some of the minister’s achievements since assumption of seat as a member of the Federal Executive Council?
Golak: Barrister Dalung on assumption of office, identified lack of facilities and equipment as the bane of sports development in Nigeria. He has not only set up a committee to do a thorough audit of sports facilities and equipment in the country. He has started the resuscitation of moribund facilities. One example is the Swimming Pool at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos. The swimming pool was abandoned for 20 years but is now ready for use. The minister also organized a professional evaluation of the decadence at the National stadium since 1999, redrawing the design of the stadium and concluding plans to start renovation.
The Honourable Minister has also set up a sports restructuring committee with the responsibility of fashioning out a model that will move our sports from the service oriented model he inherited to a development oriented model. The Ministry has also supported athletes in various capacities despite paucity of funds. In Table Tennis, Aruna Quadri won the men’s single event at the Africa Top 16 championship in Sudan while in Weightlifting, Nigeria won 11 gold, 7 Silver and two bronze medals at the African qualifying tournament held in Yaounde May, 2016.
In March 2016, our wrestlers won 4 gold, 3 silver and 3 bronze medals in the Cairo Senior Wrestling Championships. Also in Wrestling, our athletes won 4 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals at the Africa/Oceania 2016 qualifier held in Tunis. Wrestling qualified 7 athletes for Rio Olympics in April 2016 while in Powerlifting, Nigeria won 1 silver and 3 bronze medal in IPC 2015 European Open held in Hungary from November 24th to 30th 2015. In Scrabble, Wellington Jighere in November 2015 won the World English language Scrabble Players Championships in Perth, Australia.
The Honourable Minister has been able to attract investors and has been undertaking projects without a budget. In the youth arm of the ministry, the Honourable Minister has initiated The National Accelerated Youth Development Programme (NAYDEP) aimed at reaching and maintaining a database of at least 18 Million youths nationwide; one million in each of the 18 thematic issues of the National Youth Policy by December 2016. The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development will also mobilize and deploy one million youths (from the 18 million) as Change Agents, Change Champions and Transformation Entrepreneurs before the end of 2018.
Barrister Dalung has created a Youth Development Financing Trademark (BBSF) as well as Brands and Business that will shape our youths’ future and facilitate the creation of 100,000 jobs through Transformation Enterprises in two years. It will also facilitate the establishment of 109 Youth Business Clusters, 1 in each Senatorial District and FCT by 2019. The Honourable Minister has also launched a portal called Young Nigerian Investors and innovators to help link young Nigerians with the global market.
He is on the verge of signing an MOU with Peugeot Auptomobile Nigeria to launch a Youth Taxi Scheme. 200 Youths per state will be given cars through various cooperatives to pay back on hire purchase basis.
He is working with UNIDO to train Youth Development officers nationwide in entrepreneurial skills. In just six months, the Honourable Minister, working with his colleagues, has set up an inter-ministerial committee on job creation for youths and has developed a content note for presentation to the African Development Bank.
The Honourable Minister has also developed a strategic framework for youth empowerment which will be presented to the Federal Executive Council for approval. Others include reformation of the National Youth Council of Nigeria and the Youth Empowerment Programme with Innoson Motor Vehicle Manufacturing Company and others.
These are just a few of the Honourable Minister’s achievements in six months which led to his getting accolades from Nigerians.
ViewPoint- Many people believe that Hon. Dalung and Governor Lalong are not in good terms politically because of the formers interest in governorship in 2019. Could you say something about this?
Golak- In official capacity I believe they both have jobs too much on their tables and each is putting the best effort in achieving that, they both appreciate each others roles as stakeholders in the state so anything beyond that may be personal relationship which we all have and I don’t think personal relationships has anything to do with governance. More so, the minister has at last Goemai Cultural Day honored an invitation extended to him by the governor which is in itself a demonstration of a cordial working relationship. The minister has maintained that 2019 is not in the wisdom of we mortals to decide but God.
ViewPoint- Quite recently, there was a call by Dr. Aliyu Tilde on President Buhari to replace the embattled Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Mr. Babachir David Lawal with Barr. Solomon Dalung. Do you see this becoming a reality and what impact does it have on Mr. President’s Government?
Golak- The call by Dr. Aliyu Tilde is the usual expression of trust and confidence of the well meaning stakeholders in the north and other part of the country have always shared about the person of the Minister.
If Dr. Tilde suggest Barrister Dalung as a fitting replacement for the embattled SGF that still will remain as a concerned opinion of a stakeholder and the discretionary right of ‘whether or not’ is an exclusive decision of Mr President. I however, believe the SGF is still being checked by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the federation so its simply fair to wait for the outcome.
ViewPoint: Many people have criticized the minister of what they termed his bad composition of media team to manage his public discourse. What can you say about this?
Golak- Anyone who wants to be critical of you must always find an item or two to accuse you of. Even in this very conversation we are having, if anyone wants to make a mountain of mischief out of it he or she can. It’s just so direct as that.
An objective commentator must fairly and wholistically look at what’s of interest to the country and the general citizens and not to make a narrow view that benefits some few unscrupulous elements.
The minister has a good media team, I doubt if any media team anywhere in the country can stand the heat and adequately survive the pressure as its with his media team. We are fine and we can always do better.
ViewPoint- For now, the minister hasn’t indicated interest to contest for governorship in 2019 but some groups are mounting pressure on him to do so given his achievements. If he decides to throw the hat, how bright are his chances of winning?
Golak- His chances have always been bright as his detribalized character. Plateau state is a multi ethnic society that requires only detribalize Citizen of the capacity of Barr. Solomon Dalung to succinctly whether the nepotic storm that has becloud the politics of the state and ofcourse emancipate the people into a state of a United plateau. As you rightly said, the Minister has a job doing and that he is doing with every strength in him, 2019 is in God’s hand and He alone can decide everyone’s fate.
ViewPoint- What advise(s) do you have for Plateau youths in the light of the fast approaching 2019 elections
Golak- As a Personal Assistant to the Minister, I will only say as I have always maintained.
If you as a young man hands-off in this civic duty called politics, you should expect to be ruled by probably less credible people so the chances of having the kind of leadership a young all desired is directly proportional to the amount of involvement he or she has made into who becomes what in the hierarchy of the leadership.
In other words, get involved and of course positively.
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