By Glory U.C
Nigeria has over the years produced different sports ministers to manage the affairs of the Ministry of Sports but one person who has carve a niche for himself is Barr.Solomon Dalung.
It was in view of this and the plethoral of issues bedeviling the country that he was invited as a Guest on Eagle Eye News24 flagship Pogramme:NIGERIA@DAWN,the former Youth and Sports Minister,spoke on some of his achievements when he held brief for the ministry vis-à-vis urging the new minister,Hon.John Enoh to pick his hand-over notes for guidance.
Speaking on some of his achievements,he said that he did his best as Minister of Sports and basically left outstanding performance that till date it has not been broken.
“I did my best as a Minister for Youth and Sports Development and I basically left outstanding performance that till date it has not been broken by anybody
What are the basis for this assertion?When I became a minister, Nigeria was no where in football.We lost out from qualifying for WAFU,CHAN,AFCON and even the World Cup but within the period of my stewardship,I was able to return Nigeria back to these continental competitions.
We returned Nigeria back to WAFU in Ghana with a silver medal.I was the only Minister of Sports who broke the record of qualifying Nigeria for the World Cup without a Presidential Taskforce and the Super Eagles of Nigeria qualified with a match to spare.
I led Nigeria to Olympic Games and we returned with a Bronze Medal in football but unfortunately since I left office we have not been able to qualify for the football event not to talk of winning a bronze”.
Dalung, further enumerated other strides his tenure produced for the nation.’
In his words:”As a minister under my watch,for the first time Nigeria qualified as champion in Scrabble and repeated it again.Again under my watch,the game of basketball grew that in 2017 we became African champion and book their place for the World Cup.
The D-Tigress in Spain 2018 set an African record by defeating great basketball nations of the west to qualify for the quarter-finals in 1oo years to become the first African team to record such feat and they also move their world rankings from number 44 to 8 position.In fact,that record up till date has not been broken.
Again we embarked on major sports reform which saw us developing talents board in the National Youth Games which was abandoned for many years.We revived it and the National Youth Athletics which reproduced in 2016,2017 and 2018 some of our reigning athletes.
Basically,they are the athletes sustaining the elites profile of the Nigerian athletes.In 2018 they produced a lot of medals at the World IOC,Common Wealth Youth Games.They did remarkably well, when we revived the National Sports Festival in 2018.
We were also able to developed Cricket and Nigeria became a World Champion from nothing defeating great cricket playing nations in Zambia.I made major in-roads in Para-Olympics ,we produced outstanding para olympians for the nation.
Nigeria’s former Minister of Youths and Sports,Solomon Dalung did not just stopped at rolling his achievements in sports laurels alone but also in infrastructural developments,hear him.
“I awarded contracts for the construction of three major mini-stadia in Langtang South(Plateau),Kano and Daura(Katsina)and all of them were all completed and commissioned.
In addition, I touched on the National Olympic Swimming Pool in Lagos which was also abandoned for over 20 years,I renovated it which have been the only facility that that is been used by the Aquatic Federation.We also entered partnership with a private diary company-WAMCO, renovated and upgraded the gymnasium of para-olympians in Lagos to International standard”.
Dalung,also brought about his political sagacity to bear as he was instrumental to the democratization of the National Sports Federations in 2017.
“We were able to democratized the national sports federations in Nigeria.We conducted in 2017 one of the first democratic elections where the national federations, the space was widen for more participation of stakeholders, creating room for the policy of more inclusion.
Hitherto,the board of national federation were elected by only 15 persons,so when we democratized,we enlarged it to an electoral college of 50 persons which comprises of every representatives of each state,encompassing the organic stake holders”.
Responding on the issue of setting agenda for the new sports minister,he said he doesn’t want to waste his energy on that issue because it seems to be unprofitable.
“I will not want to waste my time and energy because it seem to be unprofitable but if the new Minister of Sports feels we have something to offer and consult,we will give him from our experience.
Nevertheless,the agenda I will want to set for him is that he should pick my hand-over notes of the ministry because it covers everything he needs,so there is enough for him to explore”.