By Gabriel Pam
The honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Solomon Dalung, is not too difficult to attach to a personality type. He is the kind that loves to play to the gallery, ignoring the substance. He forgets easily that he is serving as a minister under the government of President Muhammadu Buhari – a “change” regime.
Once a public officer, one has surrendered a substantial aspect of his private life to the public. So, in the wake of Dalung’s loud diatribe against Plateau state governor Simon Lalong, I inquired into Dalung’s antecedents in politics and leadership. I got much more than I bargained for. The information I got was this: Dalung is an old politician from Plateau. His passion is to stoke political bonfires whenever he has reason to believe his selfish interests are in jeopardy. Some even describe him as an alarmist and a scrambler, who plays to the gallery to win public sympathy, but retreats into his cocoon with swiftness, once the proverbial “prey is in the hunter’s bag.”
This provides the black canvass for his current face-off with governor of his home state, Samuel Lalung. Ingredients for Dalung’s open quarrel and very ‘powerful” outbursts against Lalung were budded in President Buhari’s latest visit to Plateau last week. Lalong has been the governor of Plateau state for nearly three years now, almost the same duration Dalung has been a minister under Buhari. But the minister never perceived anything wrong in the manner Lalong has administered the state, until Tuesday. That was after he was neither officially invited for the Presidential visit nor allowed to speak when he attended the reception in honour of Buhari.
Someone needs to help me out with wisdom. Is there a new culture among Africans that stipulates the invitation of a man to his house before he comes? What was Dalung expecting to get from an official invitation by the Plateau State Government over the Presidential visit? Without invitation, which is absurd to many ears, he came to his state, both as indigene and minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but no one embarrassed or harassed him.
And finding no reasonable grounds to vent his spleen, he got to the venue of the reception and packaged another round of anger that he was not allowed to speak. And that’s the only time the demons in his brain terrorizing him could reminisce how Governor Lalong has done everything wrong in his leadership of the Plateau. This posturing makes it easy to infer that had Lalong appeased the god of Minister Dalung in consonance with the Presidential visit, the perceived “wrongdoings” of the governor would never have entertained the ears of Plateau people?
So, incensed because of his seemingly bruised ego, Dalung’s voice became very strident, like that a soul possessed by evil spirits. Nigerians are asking at what point Dalung realized these “sins” of Lalong that he was not patriotic enough to trumpet, except now? Could this pass by any nuance of consideration as a sign of a true leader, committed to good governance in his state or wherever he is serving?
Smarting, Dalung went to the extent of even belittling what gains the administration of Lalong has made in infrastructure and security. No Nigerian needs to dwell on the Plateau to understand that Lalong has quelled the more than a decade conflagrations on the Plateau to restore peace/harmony and revalidated and mobilized to site all contractors handling inherited contracts in the state.
Then, whose interest is Dalung projecting and protecting in this circumstance? The answer is obvious, as his angst stems from his perception of a personal neglect. So, he freely deployed the instruments’ of blackmail, intimidation, bullying and publicly denigrating the governor in the hope of re-fixing his lost strings in public court. But he has no apostates to cheer him up on the Plateau on this evil mission.
I was not surprised when the Plateau state APC chairman, Hon. Latep Dabang, described Minister Dalung as a lunatic. And the manner Dalung accepted this insult calmly, with a thank you phrase, instead of effusing anger left me thinking aloud about the debauchery in public leadership. Even an ordinarily man on the streets of Plateau, sure of his facts would rather not thank those who derogate him. He would at least, express resentment to it. What it simply sounds in neutral ears is that Dalung is already regretting his outing through this implied apology.
Clearly, he is acting most times on impulse and in direct conflict with the focus of the government he serves. So, Dalung promotes the Nigerian Peace Corps against the stand of other stakeholders in the government by openly declaring a war on the Federal Government for refusing to sign the bill. And it is nothing, outside the protection of his selfish interests, as some of his close acolytes’ claim Dalung has recruited about 500 into the Peace Corps he is allegedly preparing to use as campaigners in the forthcoming general elections. His state party chairman cannot be less wrong by lamenting about Dalung’s perfected plans to work against the interest of the party in the state in 2019.
Having assumed imaginary powers, Dalung plots to serve both as Minister of Nigeria and at the same time, remote control the political leadership of his home state. While he cannot effectively perform his functions at the national level, he plots to irreligiously combine the offices of the executive of Governor of Plateau state and the State Chief Accountant-General. That’s why he is officiously asking which bank accounts state funds are stashed in.
From all indications, Dalung cannot fail to see, touch or feel the impact of Lalong’s re-engineering of Plateau, through prudent and transparent application of lean resources for the welfare of the state. But President Buhari is not deceived by what he saw personally and the projects he commissioned on the Plateau.
Pam is a public affairs analyst based in Abuja.