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Igbarman O’ Tarok is 54 years old today and like many other ‘young at heart’ men, life has just begun!

Barrister Solomon Selcap ‘Thunder’ Dalung may not be your favourite Nigeria’s Minister of Sports. Actually, there’ll be clinking of glasses and toasting to his ‘exit’ should he cease to be in office but he’s unperturbed.
His leadership of this most controversial sector has raised more than a few eyebrows. Unlike his predecessors, stakeholders still wonder how the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has managed to keep such a ‘leftist’ in office for so long.

Barrister Dalung is not your ‘everyday’ man. He is unusually different. He has stunned those who thought they knew him so well.
However, he has changed the fortunes of sports in the country. Federations have never had it so good under his watch.

This minister has presided over presentation and receiving of medals and trophies more than any minister. He has left National Sports Federations better than he met it. Welfare of athletes and officials under his watch got priority attention.


Nigerian Youths now have a democratically elected President after several years of leadership tussle and multiple presidents.
Barrister Dalung is not a perfect man and there’s none that I’ve heard of. He may have his weakness but he has surely brought sanity and steady success to the youth and sports sector.

In November, I would have worked as one of his aides for three years! Did you ask me how I’ve survived this long in the ‘lion’s den?’
That’s a thesis to be submitted when I retire from ‘active service’.
I have read so many people’s response to one of Facebook’s questionnaire on relationship. While some write married, single or in a relationship, others write ‘it’s complicated’.
My Boss is ‘complicated’ and ‘unpredictable’. There were times we expected him to raise fire and brimstone but he’ll just whistle away and pretend he didn’t know what happened. Beware of his thoughts at that time! Flee!!

One thing you can’t take away from him is his boldness in the face of ‘adversity’. Mark my words, this unusual minister is not afraid of anybody!

He hardly shifts from his convictions or succumbs to pressure. If the whole world is going right, the Tarok man will not go your direction to please you. He owes you no explanation or apologies for what he believes is right.
However, in all these traits lies a good man. True! The Igbarman is a good man. In trying to establish justice, he has stepped on many people’s toes. His thunderous threats notwithstanding, there’s this humane spirit hiding behind the mask of a loud voice.
He loves the poor and the voiceless because he said he knows where the shoes pinch. He is a helper and a listener.
On this very special day, I’d like to wish him a happy birthday. As you trudge unto your 54th year, I pray that by this time next year, you’ll be a bigger bundle of testimony. Yes, for your arrival at this particular bus stop is still a mystery to many.
God bless you and enjoy your day sir.



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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