Solomon Dalong: The ‘Change’ Nigerian sports need?
The appointment of Barrister Solomon Dalong yesterday as new minister of Youth and Sports has received mixed reactions from sports-loving Nigerians. While some see his appointment as another square peg in a round hole, some people are of the opinion that his coming might be a blessing for the nation’s sports.
From the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration in 1999 till date, Dalong is the 14th politicians to hold the portfolio as sports minister.
Those who occupied the position before him were Damishi Sango, late Engr. Mark Aku, Steven Ibn Akiga (also late), Col. Musa Mohammed (rtd), Dr. Saidu Sambawa, Bala Bawa Ka’Oje, Abdulrahman Gimba, Sani Ndanusa, Alhaji Ibrahim Isa Bio, Prof. Taoheed Adedoja, Alhaji Yusuf Suleiman, Bolaji Abdullahi and Tamuno Danagogo.
Dalong, who was among 36 ministers named by President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday, may be relatively unknown in the sports circle, but some people have pointed out that the man is not a greenhorn in the nation’s sports.
“Not many people may know Dalong in our sports circle, but we have to wait and see what he has to offer,” former Green Eagles winger, Adelabu Adegoke, told The Guardian yesterday.
Adegoke, who played for the then IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan and the then Green Eagles in the early 80s has however, set an agenda for Dalong saying: “The new man has to work with technocrats to move our sports forward and he must be ready to consult widely before taking major decisions. His doors must be opened for those who will be willing to proffer solutions and must also be ready for criticism whether good or bad,” he said.
In 2002, Dalong was part of Nigeria’s delegation to Bamako, Mali, to cheer the Super Eagles in the African Nations Cup, where the team finished third after beating the host country, Mali, in the loser’s final.
Born on September 26, 1964, in the town of Sabon Gida, currently known as Langtang South Local Government Area in Plateau State, Dalong was one time a Personal Assistant to late politician, Chief Solomon Lar when he (Lar) was Adviser Emeritus to former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
In 2007, Dalong became the Chairman of Langtang South Local Government Area, when he also served as the Plateau State Chairman of the Association of Local Government Chairmen of Nigeria (ALGON). He later made an attempt at representing Langtang North and South at the National Assembly but lost.
Perhaps, one good thing about Dalong’s appointment as sports minister is the fact that his fellow kinsman, Al-Hassan Yakmut, an ex-national volleyball player and a technocrat, is already on ground as the Director General of the National Sports Commission (NSC).
Yakmut told The Guardian in a telephone chat yesterday that the appointment of Dalong is a big blessing for the sports sector.
“He is a sportsman to the core,” Yakmut said. “Dalong was included in the federal government delegation to Mali 2002 Nations Cup and he played a major role. I was the Special Adviser to former sports minister, late Engr. Mark Aku, at that time. And as chairman of Langtang South Local Government Area, Dalong did so much for sports development in the area. I am sure his tenure will be very fruitful for Nigeria sports if we give him the necessary support,” Yakmut said. While the new sports minster (Dalong) is from Langtang South Local Government Area, Yakmut hails from Mangu Local Government Area of the state.