The recently released list of ministerial appointments expectedly drew polarizing comments from Nigerians. While some reserved praise for the president, others gave him knocks for mostly appointing those who supported his second term bid. However, in every division there is a point of unity. Almost everyone is applauding the omission of former sports minister Solomon Dalung from the “Next Level” ministerial list.
The crimes of Dalung that led to his downfall would take a day to narate, especially if you ask the general public who weren’t amused by some of his antics. From his outlandish pronouncements, weird dress sense, shoddy handling of national assignments and simple communication lapses, Dalung swiftly became a man at odds with those he was appointed to serve. By the end of his eventful tenure atop the sports ministry, he was more a figure of fun than head figure.
His bold boast prior to the unveiling of the ministerial list that no man of woman born can stop his reappointment was just the icing on the cake of his utterances that raised both eyebrows in some quarters and much ire in others. Just like Macbeth in the Shakespearean tragedy of the same name, Dalung realized too late that prophecies, especially self-made ones, are best avoided.
There are speculations that it might have been the hammer nail in his coffin as the presidency was determined to begin the new tenure with as few causes of controversy as possible. Coupled with his penchant for committing basic linguistic blunders, it was an easy thing for Buhari to be persuaded to draw a damning red cross over Dalung’s name. Committee members in the House of Representatives no longer have to look forward to hearing how “the funds spended were well spended” or the latest information regarding the “United States of Nigeria”.
Though the khaki-loving lawyer recorded some successes in the sports ministry, he won few admirers with his dress sense which can be generously described as curious. Adopting a military-style attire is one thing. Undermining the effect by behaving in an undisciplined manner on many issues is quite another. Dalung, while in office, gained a reputation for high-handedness, ineptness and arrogance.
Dalung was widely fingered as the man responsible for the debacle at the Rio Olympics, regarded by most as Nigeria’s worst outing at the quadrennial showpiece. His failure to renovate most of the dilapidated stadiums as he promised also made him a figure of derision. The mismanagement of the $135,000 IAAF funds was the killing blow to his reputation in the eyes of many.
Little wonder the presidency decided to cut their losses and let him go. And so, Dalung, rapid fall after rapid rise, becomes another addition to Nigeria’s history of eccentric, slightly comic characters who talked more than they walked.