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Tinubu’s DG: Gov Lalong Reputation, Ambition Will Sink With APC – Ex Minister Dalung

Hon. Barr. Solomon Dalung is the former Minister of Sports under the first tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari’s ruling All Progressive Congress, APC. He says the brand new Director General, DG of the APC presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Gov Simon Bako Lalong’s reputation will sink with the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket in the forthcoming presidential election.

The radical lawyer who had defected from the ruling APC to the Social Democratic Party, SDP to fly it’s ticket for the Langtang North /South, House of Representatives in Plateau state spoke exclusively with TMSnews in Abuja a few hours after the unveiling of Gov Lalong as DG. JONATHAN IPAA took him round in this interview:

Q: Let’s start from sports where you served last. The Super Eagles of Nigeria, your dream team will be conspicuously missing at this year’s World Cup in Qatar: what does this means to you as a former sports administrator?

This question can better be answered by you. Between the first set of ministers and those in the president’s second term, one could assess their performances in terms of medals won, resources made available, the number of sporting events Nigeria had participated.

Q: What could you have done differently to ensure that Nigeria qualified for Qatar2022?

It’s unfortunate that the poor preparation has done us this bad. The funding of sports under this administration was poor even from my days as minister. I have to go begging for funds to take the Super Eagles to the World Cup and African Cup of Nations.

I got funds less than nine days to the tonourment and under that scenario, not much is expected from both the sports administrators and the players.
It’s a pity that we will be missed at the World Cup after losing at the continental level.

Q: Looking at the level of preparation and financial commitment, would you score yourself better than the current arrangement interms of players, athletes’ welfare viz a viz the numbers of medals recorded in the ongoing Commonwealth games?

I did my best under the circumstances I found myself. Sports is not on the priority list of the current administration. The morale of players and athletes were poorly motivated and you don’t expect much under that circumstances.

Q: The nation is now so divided that even sports is no longer uniting our youths. What do you think is the missing link?

The interest of Nigeria and her youth must be returned on the drawing board. We should commence early preparations for intending events.

Q: Not much was heard from you especially on why you dumped the ruling APC, a platform that made you a cabinet minister at a very enviable age?

I want to disagree that the APC brought me to limelight. I was a lone voice against the government of ex President Goodluck Jonathan which was what endeared me to APC in 2015.

Instead, I inherited the burden of failure the party brought to Nigerians. Solomon Dalung was a household name everyone wanted to hear.

They are bereaved of ideas so have forgotten so fast.

Rather, I added value to the party because I was already a household name politically before APC came in 2015. Don’t forget that the late Chief Solomon Daushep Lar brought me into politics when I was in form 2 in 1978.

I am an adherent followers of Lar which I owe him everything I have today. One good thing about the late emmancipator is that he was self-accommodating.

We had our disaggrement on some issues and aggreed on others even as a small person then. I recall ever disagreeing with him on the candidacy of ex President Obasanjo’s second tenure in preference to the late Dr Alex Ekwueme in 2003. I had argued that the initial agreement was to install a retired general to first take over power from the military and then bring in a real democrat.
The late Lar kicked, insisting on Obasanjo against Dr Ekwueme, my own preferred candidate then.
I had foresaw that Obasanjo will work against Lar in his second tenure and it came to passed because Obasanjo fought Lar from day one to the end of his government.

I also predicted that the late Deputy Senate President, Sen Ibrahim Nasiru Mantu was going to fight Lar on Plateau politics. That one too came to past.
Baba Lar one day summoned me on some of these predictions thus giving me the audacity of hope which led to my pooitical growth subsequently.

Q: Inspite all these you are paying Lar back by running against his daughter, the heir apparent?

No! No!! This is not the first time I will be running against the Lar family. I had ran against Hon Beni Lar in 2007 but lost. My aspiration had never affected our relationship with the Lar because in Tarok tradition, you can not say you are the best at all the time. She has nearly sixteen years on the seat so one will expect her to seek for a higher position. She has over stay her welcome!

Before the arrival of APC in 2014, I was an accomplished lawyer of repute, a council chairman and was rooted into the politics of Plateau state through the former Governor, a former federal Minister and the pioneer national chairman of the PDP, the late Chief Solomon Daushep Lar.

The APC needed hands and I was contacted to add value to it on the Plateau.
Now back to your question on why I dump APC?

I left on principle when the party was no longer pursuing what we had campaigned for. When the same people we begged to vote out Jonathan’s insecurity, corruption, incompetence, ASUU’s unending strikes, increased in fuel pump price, increased in the rate of the naira to dollar, etc, were made to face three times harsher what we met on ground.

I left when it became obvious that the same people that voted us could no longer sleep in their houses with their eyes closed, could no longer go to their farms, could no longer travel to neighbouring towns and villages, could no longer have their children go to colleges under the supervision of their leaders.

I felt I owe these people apologies and a public declaration of disaffection of what the government I had asked them to support was doing.

Q From the news field, it was said that your irreconcilable differences with Gov Simon Lalong on one side and the Northern power cabal on another side could have pushed you out of power. Tell us what exactly happened?

Well, there were issues, of course some policy disagreement from time to time. I have pushed for certain memos which I believe they were for the interest of Nigerians and I must say that the President was a very nice leader who listens to everyone.

I had no problem with my governor, no irreconcilable differences with my colleagues at the Federal Executive Council nor the party up to the time I left office.

Q: As an insider, is this the same president you had served?


Q: Considering the ravaging insecurity in Nigeria, is President Buhari the same nonsense retired General you used to know?

Yes, but may be due to age and the exigencies of the office. The last time I had appointment with him, I realized that age was no longer on his side given the diversity of Nigeria.
However, a good leader musy have his ears on ground, he must not have only people who don’t wish the nation well by over protecting him. Those around him don’t advise him, rather, they make sure no one else comes around him thus preventing others from accessing their leader.

Q: Was there any time you had confronted the president on policy issue?

Yes. I had raised objections at the Federal Executive Council Chambers when the State Security Services, SSS deployed its operatives to cause havoc to the agents of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC who had arrested a retired DG of the SSS.
I had also disagreed on the Shell memo and gave my reason which the president yielded to superior argument.

Q: You were sighted last weekend at the Nicon Luxry hotel, Abuja venue of the Babachir/ Dogara led anti APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket. What is the nexus between your new party, the SDP and this group?

In solidarity to express dissatisfaction of the Muslim-muslim ticket, I attended the summit. I wasn’t the only non APC stakeholder that was invited to address the Northern Christian political summit. There were some clergies who are non partisan.

Now coming to the question, I am against the Muslim-muslim ticket, I am against a Christian-christian ticket, aetheist-aetheist ticket, I am against the free thinkers-free thinkers ticket, African traditionalist-african traditionalist ticket because I am for an all inclusive ticket. I forbid injustice in all ramfication and any ticket that is not balance, I am antel to it.

If religion doesn’t matter why did they invited the Christian clergies at the unveiling of the VP candidate?

Secondly, the reason that confirm my suspicion about the APC action is that why were Imams not invited to the same unveiling of the VP candidate? It’s very clear that there was a hiden agenda because why were the leadership of the athaeist, the free thinkers association not invited?

The Christians were insulted when the APC used the word compentence in arriving at Sen Kassim Shettima as it’s VP candidate. By this, they are saying that free thinkers, aethaeists and traditionalists are also incompetent enough for APC’s support for the next general election which they both have equal choice.

No right thinking politician will condone the type of injustice the APC and Bola Tinubu is pursuing.
Talking about the relationship between my party, the SDP and the Ex SGF Babachir Lawal/ Ex Speaker Yakubu Dogara’s camp, I am a christian stakeholder from the north.

I owe my people a responsibility to provide good leadership to them and this can’t be possible in isolation.

I needed to rob minds with other equally important stakeholders to strengthen the process. We are still consulting and at the appropriate time we will come out with what is good for our people.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his party have insulted the christians up north with his Muslim-muslim ticket. They said there is no competent material up north to pick as vice president but are now shopping for a Director General, DG from the same area to do the dirtyman’s job.

Q: Back home, we saw your posters spread all over Langtang North & South for the House of Representatives instead of the Senate or something higher than the previous post. Aren’t you belittling the status of a Nigerian minister?

Not at all. Going by the protocol set up by ex President Olusegun Obasanjo, both the House of Representatives and the office of the Minister of Nigeria are on the same political status.

In fact, the House of Representatives member is more political weightier than the minister because he is an elected politician.

If not for my constituents, I would have gone for the councilor of my ward in order to impact to my local first and probably rise from there.

Q: How strong is your SDP in Plateau considering the personality (the heir apparent of the founding PDP leader and the late leader of the Middle Belt, Chief Solomon Lar) you want to challenge?
SDP is strong and the second most oldest political party in Nigeria today.

This is not the first time I will be challenging the PDP in Langtang North/South in an election. I had contested against Hon Beni, the late emmancipator, Chief Lar’s daughter. I lost to her but this time around, she won’t be that lucky because having been there for sixteen years, she must have exhausted her usefulness.

In Tarokland, nothing good last for ever.
PDP is beatable in 2023.

Q: You were quoted to have apologized to Nigerians for marketing President Muhammadu Buhari and his party, the APC.

Giving the persistent killings under his watch, how do you intend to get the voters’ trust under your new party?

First, I am disappointed that the General Muhammadu Buhari I had assisted to win election in 2015 is not the same humble leader I worked for. Nigeria is worst than we met it in 2015 and having brought it to this disasterous stage, the most honourable thing to do is to apologize to Nigerians.
I never campaign that they were going to be kidnapped, that dollar was going to be #700/$1, that fuel pump price will shut up from from the #145/litre to #180/200/litre, that armed bandits will stop them from going to their farms, that known gunmen, because they are known,, will attack Kuje prison to free terrorists.

I never promised them that we were going to promote them from their villages to refugee camps or that foriegn bandits will be taking over Abuja.

So, the honest thing anyone who was part of the APC’s mess was to first apologize to Nigerians and seek for forgiveness. the president has failed in terms of security, economy and in so many areas and the most responsible and honest thing to do is to first of all apologize to Nigerians.
I have erred by campaiging for a wrong person and party who have jointly brought in hardship.
The SDP will certainly correct the wrongs and bad leadership inflicted on Nigerians.

Q: Will you change your mind now that Tinubu has picked your brother, the Plateau state Governor, Simon Bako Lalong, a christian, devouted catholic and sitting chairman of the Northern Governors Forum as his Director General, DG?

I will not speak for the christian body but my position is generally against any form of injustice. My Governor is being tipped, I congratulate him but the appointment has some baggages because he may be required to provide alot of answers during the campaign.

I will advise Tinubu to pick a competent Muslim DG because if he brings in a Christian and eventually lost, he will blame the Christian for his lost.

If they have a competent Muslim president, a competent Muslim Senate President, a competent Muslim House Speaker, Deputy, a competent Muslim National Chairman of APC, there is need for a competent Muslim DG too.

Gov Lalong is a good leader but I will advise Tinubu and his party to beam their searchlight amongst the competent Muslims APC for a DG.

Q: Why?

If there’s no competent Christian APC material for Tinub’s VP candidate, would there be any for his DG? By Tinubu’s standard, there are more competent Muslims to campaign for APC than a Northern Christian DG which is a mere dirtyman’s job.

But if they insist, Gov Lalong’s reputation and senatorial ambition will sink alongside the APC.

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