By Amaechi Agbo
On Saturday, the Special Assistant to the immediate past Minster of Youth and Sports Development, Barrister Solomon Dalung, Nneka Anibeze, released press statement on the inclusion of the former minister on the eleven-man delegate selected by President Muhammadu Buhari to go to Egypt and cheer the Super Eagles to victory at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON.
“In a letter signed by the Chief of Staff to the President Mr Abba Kyari, President Buhari nominated the former Sports Minister as a representative of the Presidency,” the release said.
The statement added that “The delegation will be led by the Senate President, Senator Lawan Ahmed.
“Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Mr Boss Mustapha, the Executive governors of Lagos and Delta states His Excellences Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo olu and Dr Ifeanyi Okowa are also on the list.
“Other delegates on the Federal Government entourage include the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria Mr Godwin Emefiele, Engr Habu Gumel, the President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, Capt. Hosa Wells Okunbo who is one of the Super Eagles’ sponsors, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Mr Olusade Adesola and the Director facilities Arc. Muhammad Gambo.
“The delegation is expected to visit the players in camp and watch some of their matches to inspire and motivate the players and coaching crew to achieve optimum performance.
“The delegation’s visit is also aimed at strengthening diplomatic and bilateral relations between Nigeria and the host nation Egypt as well as other participating countries.
“The Super Eagles who are due to play Madagascar in Group B on Sunday have already qualified for the knockout round of the Africa Cup of Nations after beating Burundi 1-0 and Guinea 1-0.
“The delegation will depart for Egypt on July 6, 2019 ahead of Super Eagles’ knockout game on July 7.
However, fact have emerged on the reason President Buhari nominated Barr. Dalung as a member of the delegate.
A source in the Presidential Villa who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, said that the nomination of the Plateau State born politician is not unconnected with his immense achievements in the sports sector during his time as the minister supervising the ministry.
He further said that the nomination is a stamp on President Buhari’s total confidence on the former minister.
“A lot of things were considered. But I cannot tell you all right now,” the source told our correspondent.
“But one thing you should not forget is that the President is not unaware of the great job Dalung did in the ministry of sports. He did a great job and the President did not neglect that.
“His nomination is an indication that Dalung is still relevant and highly regarded in the Villa. Mr President also holds the former minister very dear and is not oblivious of what is happening in sports particularly in football.
“Outside that, do not forget that the President is an ardent football fan, so he wants to make sure that the team succeed in Egypt. The mandate of the delegate is to ensure that the team lacked nothing and the incessant embarrassing non-payment of match bonuses does not arise again. So the players are in good hand and the president wants them to win the tournament,” the source said.
On whether Barrister Dalung is coming back as a minister especially to his former portfolio, the source said “I cannot tell you that. There are every likelihood he is coming back. In fact for all I know it is almost certain. The Presidency, from feelers, has this body language that he has unfinished business in the ministry.
“If you look at the past for years of his first tenure, he did no reshuffle his cabinet because he believed that the longer the cabinet members remained in their portfolios, the greater the work and success recorded. All I can say is that some ministers the president trusted in his first term who performed very well are coming back. Dalung is one of the past ministers he trusted,” he concluded.
Meanwhile Barr. Dalung, has expressed immense gratitude to the President Mohammadu Buhari for finding him worthy to be included in the 11-man Federal Government Delegation to Egypt to cheer the Super Eagles to victory, Bestchoicesports.com.ng can report.
President Mohammadu Buhari last week named eleven-man AFCON delegate to go to Egypt and cheer the Super Eagles to victory and offer necessary support as the case may be. The delegate which comprises governors, CBN governor among others will be led by the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan.
In a letter expressing his thankfulness, Dalung noted that he will do his utmost best to justify the confidence reposed in him by the President and be a good ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the Pharaoh’s land.
“As a patriotic Nigerian, it is always a thing of pride and honour, to be called upon to serve or represent our great nation in any capacity whatsoever
“This is why I am greatly honoured to be found worthy to be appointed an Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari (GCON, GCFR) at the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON) holding in Egypt
“I wish to assure Mr President and all Nigerians that I, alongside my chosen compatriots, will excellently represent Nigeria and be worthy Ambassadors as well as supporting and cheering the Super Eagles to making us proud at the tournament
“I also wish to assure the President that the faith he placed in me will be justified.
“Thank you Mr President for this great opportunity,” the letter read
The delegate is expected in Egypt on Friday to cheer the Super Eagles when they tackle Cameroon in the Round 16 of the 32nd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON.
Super Eagles qualified for the knockout stage following their 1-0 wins against Burundi and Guinea respectively but shockingly lost 2-0 to Madagascar.