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OPINION: Solomon Dalung, a Man Misunderstood





The name Solomon Selcap Dalung is a household name. From religion, politics, activism, youths and now sports, Dalung is the man they love to ‘hate’.

When he assumed office as Minister of Youth and Sports on 11th November, 2015, nobody gave him a chance of succeeding. His administration had been declared ‘dead on arrival’!

According to armchair analysts and big wigs in the industry, Dalung was a novice! A nobody, and therefore, a misfit for the position. Some went a step further to condemn his choice of clothing; the popular red beret and neatly starched and ironed khaki.


Others called him the cattle rarer from Jos! I never heard of any other minister so consistently maligned with a barrage of insults heaped at his doorsteps at every opportunity available.

If anyone had told them he’ll still be in office by now, considering the torrents of derogatory remarks targeted against him, they wouldn’t have believed. But Dalung’s case is that of God’s ordained.

When God chose David the shepherd, it wasn’t because he was the most intelligent. It was because of one of those mysterious ways which God uses to prove that He alone is God.

Barrister Dalung, as I always refer to him, has managed to steer the ship to where it is at the moment. Our last port was the National Sports Federations elections.

He had promised to leave a legacy of credible and democratically elected federations’ boards.


According to him, ” Even if I don’t know anything and never achieved anything, let it be said when I’m no longer here, that one man called Solomon Selcap Dalung that wore khaki and red beret came, and ensured that elections into sports federations’ boards was not  ‘business as usual’.

To achieve this legacy, Barrister Dalung forfeited the five slots per federation known as ‘Government Nominees’ allotted to the man in charge of sports at the time of election. Multiply 31 Sports Federations that were billed to have their elections on June 13, 2017 by five and you’ll get 155. This means that Dalung forfeited his entitlement of hand picking 155 persons to be on the board of sports federations.

Secondly, Dalung stopped all staff of the ministry of Youth and Sports from being on any board of the federation. Again, according to him, “you cannot be an umpire in a game and also be a player”. Therefore, he directed all directors who had already ‘won’ their various elections to step down.

Thirdly, Dalung increased the ‘Electoral College’ from what used to be 13 to 58. This meant that there were voters from the 36 states and Abuja being represented by the State Directors of Sports, six zonal representatives, one representative each from the Nigeria Association of Women in Sports (NAWIS), the Technical and Coaching Association, the Athletes’ Representative, International Representative, Institutional Sports, the Nigeria Association for Physical, Health Education, Recreation, Sports and Dance (NAPHER-SD) and representative of the Federation’s Philanthropist, Ex-officio member or Sponsor. Any contestant who aspired to be President or Vice President had to convince the Electoral College why he/ she should be voted for.

Another measure Dalung put in place to ensure a level playing field for all interested contestants was to inaugurate an ‘independent’ electoral committee.


On the eve of the elections, the secretaries of all federations interchanged positions just to ensure that no incumbent got a ‘helping hand’.

Then came the Ides of June!

Yes, there were problems which were peculiar to elections of such magnitude. Zonal, Vice President and Presidential elections were held on the same day. Some woke up to find their names missing from an already screened list while some alleged that those who did not even contest found their names on the list as winners of various positions.

Who dun it?

Dalung, of course!


“Oh! He changed the list and put his lackeys!”

“Oh! He put those who won’t ask him to account for Federations’ allocation!”

“Oh! No wonder they flew him to Canada in a private jet belonging to one of the contestants!”

Such were the accusations against the man who had planned a seamless election for sports federations.

For your information, Barrister Solomon Selcap Dalung has never been to Canada! Not even in his dreams.


Yes, we agree there were some lapses but the same Dalung set up an Electoral Appeals Committee to attend to various complaints arising from unlawful disqualification to disenfranchisement.

It will be unfair for aggrieved persons to go on air or on the pages of newspapers to judge, condemn and sentence the same Dalung who hitherto, was celebrated for his sports reforms and elections guidelines which were described as the best ever.

That the elections didn’t favour them now does not mean that Dalung did not do his bit.

There are channels of expressing one’s complaints and means of seeking redress instead of networking a campaign of calumny.

If you appeal and then you’re not given a fair hearing, then you can go the extra mile but venting on a man who did his best and is still up on it, is to say the least, unfair.


Dalung will sell my paper any day because he’s a news man’s delight but let’s not take his silence for weakness, for even a he-goat knows his way home!


Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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