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Re: Dalung earns Buhari low marks in sports

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Last weekend marked President Mohammadu Buhari’s one year in office, and we reviewed different sectors of his administration.

The headline of our front page lead story was ‘BUHARI: One year on’ and it had the following sub-headlines:

*    Coming to grips or floundering?

Solomon Dalung
Solomon Dalung

*    Beyond the iron and steel

*    Classic definition of his govt

*    Dalung earns him low marks in sports

*    All motion, no progress in petroleum

These headlines reflected the summary of our package which many, including a top person in the Buhari administration, commended and described as “good package.”

We covered the areas the Federal Government has done well and the areas it has been challenged just as the above headlines affirmed.

While we have it on good authority that the President and his men have noted the areas of challenge and have vowed to tackle them, the man supervising sports for him admits no wrong even in the crisis he resurrected in football for which the House of Representatives Committee on Sports rebuked him. The rebuke was on account of the fact that his call for the Amaju Pinnick board of NFF to accommodate four members of the Chris Giwa group was tantamount to bending the rules, which is against the anti-corruption mantra of the Buhari administration.

Dalung reacted this way to our story:

DALUNG’S SCORECARD: Vanguard Sports misleading Nigerians

The Sports Desk of the
Vanguard Newspapers last Saturday continued its agenda to bring down the Honourable Minister for Youths and Sports, Barrister Solomon Dalung with misleading distortions thus dragging the noble profession of journalism to an all time low.

‘DALUNG EARNS BUHARI LOW MARKS IN SPORTS’ was the headline of a back page sports story of Vanguard Newspapers of Saturday, May 28, 2016.

For a medium that has vowed to fabricate all manner of falsehood to discredit the Honourable Minister of Youths and Sports Development Barrister Solomon Dalung in public space and subsequently get him sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari, one would not have expected anything less!

Even if the writer, a bricklayer masquerading as a journalist, one would have expected the gatekeepers in Vanguard, especially the Saturday Editor/Group Sports Editor to have trashed the story to the dustbin as its publication did more harm to the image of Vanguard Newspapers, its owner, their editorial board and management as well as the journalism profession than meeting the ulterior motive intended to pull him down.

When agents of image destruction pretending to be the conscience of the society or advocates of good governance do their dirty biding, they often show some level of intelligence. Though we can read through their mischief, John Egbokhan, and his co-travellers displayed ignorance or very shallow knowledge of elementary journalism and the basic rules of media practice.

In their inordinate ambition to smear the image of Barrister Dalung, Egbokhan wrote an article of about 1742 words claiming that the Honourable Minister had earned President Buhari low marks. They had no single quote from President Buhari, the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Secretary to the Federal Government or any top official of government scoring Honourable Dalung low or any other Honourable Minister to buttress their claim….

QUESTIONS FOR DALUNG

Did Sports Vanguard collaborate with the Editorial Board of Thisday Newspapers to score him low in sports? On June 1, Thisday published their assessment of the Buhari ministers with regard to their accomplishments and challenges. Thisday used the illustration of street light indicators to score the ministers.

*Green light was for ministers with “clear vision, promising start”.

*Blue light was for those with “good vision, slow start.”

*Yellow light was for the ministers adjudged “work in progress, no clear results.”

*Red light was for the ministers who had failed. It read “non-starter, go back to drawing board.”

Only three ministers in the Buhari administration were adjudged failures by the Thisday Board. Dalung was among them. Interestingly, he is the minister of youth and sports. We all know what red means in sports. A red card in football means expulsion from the game. In track and field, it’s same. It’s either for expulsion or for a false start or jump as the case may be.

This assessment was by the Editorial Board of Thisday and not even by its sports desk. Are members of Thisday Board bricklayers masquerading as journalists too? By the way, if the minister and his aides respect the dignity of labour they would not paint bricklayers in a derogatory light. Manners.

We need not say much. But it will help Dalung to get independent people to rate his performance rather staying in the confines of his office holding court with those who only massage his ego. He should do a Vox Pop on his performance. He would, indeed, get a true assessment. He should also read the reactions of Nigerians about him in the social media. When a man treads the path of wrong and realises his wrongdoing, he is likely to steer clear of his past mistakes. But if he insists that his wrongs are right then he is doomed. A word, they say is enough for the wise.

Indeed, it would pay the minister to address issues rather than personalities, a predilection that apparently reflects the shallowness of his aides.

While concluding, the minister reacted this way to the last point we made in our story.

“It is difficult to comprehend Egbokhan’s grouse with the Minister’s directive that the former Director General of the National Sports Commission (NSC) Mallam Alhassan Yakmut accounts for the N2.9 Billion released by the Federal Government for the Nation’s participation at the 2015 All Africa Games and preparations for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Paucity of funds bedevilling preparation for Rio 2016 Olympics is attributed to misapplication of the funds released to the defunct NSC for that purpose.

Please, let’s recall the paragraph that attracted this reaction:

“The minister had alleged that his former Director General, Yakmut Alhassan could not account for the N2.9 billion the President approved for the last All Africa Games and Rio Olympics preparations. This, happening under an administration fighting corruption deserves to be probed otherwise it is another bad image for the Buhari administration.”

How can anybody who understands the words of English misconstrue this to our reporter’s grouse against the minister’s call for accountability?

Is that paragraph not calling for the government to probe that allegation and ensure accountability? And does Dalung appreciate the gravity of the offence of misapplication in government? Why has he not taken proper action to deal with this alleged corruption?

We are concerned that the minister could avail himself of facts on misapplication or misappropriation and not pull the bull by the horns by inviting EFCC to probe this matter, at least in the spirit of the Buhari administration.

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