I was still at the Diete Spiff Civic Center in Port Harcourt trying to post a video of my Principal’s speech when a colleague approached me.

“Is there any part of the speech made by the Minister today that you wouldn’t want me to put out in the public?

I chuckled to myself and told him that I had done a live streaming of his speech and so had others too who came for the maiden Wike National Championship in Port Harcourt Rivers state.

The Minister of Youth and Sports Barrister Solomon Dalung is a news man’s delight any day. If you catch him in his elements, he’ll leave your ribs vibrating with laughter.
His proverbs are original… some only heard of from him. He won’t grant an interview without dropping three or four proverbs. That’s vintage Dalung for you!

Earlier, at the Diete Spiff Civic Center, it was time for Barrister Dalung to make his speech…

There was a grave yard silence that you could hear a pin drop!

Everybody wanted to listen to ‘Dalung’

“Don’t you know him?” I heard them discussing about him right behind me.

“Ah! Just wait now…” as the Minister mounted the rostrum.

“Your Excellency the Governor of Rivers State …

We were all ears.

He commended Governor Nyesome Wike for hosting a glamorous and well attended National Wrestling Championship and for the upcoming African Wrestling Championship which will bring about 54 African countries to Port Harcourt, NIGERIA….

(Yes, the glory will come to Nigeria for hosting the championship and not to PDP!)

By the time Dalung finished his speech, there was a standing ovation from the crowd, dignitaries and even the governor. They clapped and thumbed up for him but I knew news was lurking somewhere!

Is it not Barrister Dalung who spoke? The news maker?

Except he does not speak!

Anytime he sneezes, a lot of people catch the bug.

Before the end of that day, Dalung was already trending on Facebook, Whatapp, instagram and Telegram.

“Have you seen the latest?” the ‘Distinguished digital PA’ Genshak Golak asked.
My heart cut!

I listened to the Comrade from beginning till the end and he was flawless!

He dramatized his speech midway in pidgin English to interact with the people we wanted to communicate with. He got the reassuring response to indicate that he drove home his point. It wasn’t because he couldn’t speak English fluently!

Then the headlines started hitting the air waves…Dalung endorses Wike for second term! Buhari’s Minister campaigns for Wike 2019.

Dalung decamps to PDP…. and so on.

So, what’s all the brouhaha about Dalung?

Simply put, Dalung is a newsmaker!

One thing you can’t take away from him is his power of oration. Dalung is a patriotic citizen. Nigeria is his first love! I mean this in every sense of it.

He loves Nigerians too! And that’s why he can enter any coffee shop ( call it Mai Shayi if you want) and in 5 minutes Dalung will be addressing 10,000 men! I’m not kidding you!!

He will exchange banters with them, ask them of their businesses and welfare over a cup of tea and as he takes his leave, the multitude will be cheering after him.

How many leaders or men of such portfolio interact with the masses on a good day? I’m not talking of those who eat Pomo or drink ‘pure’ water during campaigns.
Lest I digress…

Dalung loves the less privileged . He may not have built mansions for them but he always looks out for them. As tough and as militarized as he appears, there’s this soft spot he has for the helpless. They are all Nigerians and he loves Nigeria.

Let me go back to those headlines…

I decided to listen over and over his speech. There were just a few sentences that threw up those headlines.

“The young people wey dey here make una shine una eye. In 2019, any person wey come dey hala, dey talk long grammar, make una ask am one simple question… the one wey we give you, wetin you do with am?

Even Gov. Wike, if he comes in 2019, make him show you the one wey him do including the roads .

But I know say una go give am because e don do this one for una ( referring to the sports facilities in place) then a long applause…

I love Nigeria and I thank God I’m a Nigerian.

Simply put, Dalung is grateful to anyone who contributes to the development of Nigeria irrespective of tribe, religion or political affinity. Dalung is not a coward or a hypocrite! He is bold to a fault.

Governor Wike said when the Minister paid him a courtesy visit that some Ministers come to see him at night when they come to Port Harcourt while some will not come at all for fear of being seen with the Governor from the opposition party. Gov Wike also spoke on his misgivings about Dalung, an impression that was immediately wiped off the moment he met the Minister .

“I used to think he was a military man with his khaki and red beret but he’s a very jovial man. See what he has done for sports since he came in. I wish Mr President will have more ministers like this and Nigeria will move forward”.

Wike was impressed that Dalung will allow the Federal government to support Rivers state to host the African Wrestling Championship. The Minister is only interested in youths and Sports which is his primary assignment. If there’s a youth or sports event anywhere in Nigeria, if you invite him, he will come. He doesn’t care if you’re a staunch member of UPN or a card carrying member of the FRESH party. All he solicits from state governments is a little percentage of their security votes towards youth and sports development to keep the young people engaged and away from crime.

Before now, he was tagged a football Minister. Now he has been to Wrestling, Swimming, hockey, tennis, Taekwondo, athletics, gymnastics etc

So, what’s the hoolabaloo about this Minister called Dalung?

That he campaigned for Wike? No he did not! He only gave credit to a deserving citizen of Nigeria for his performance in nation building. Dalung praised the Governor for being the first to host an African championship without the sentiments of their individual political parties.

Wike was more grateful for the honour done to Rivers state because before the Minister visited, he had doubts that the state will not be allowed to host the event because it is a PDP state.

The Minister harped on sports not having any language or party but driven by passion. He went further to charge youths to vote only for candidates who have done something for them as youths and for the development of the nation.

If there’s anyone who thinks Nigerians should not vote for performance but for political parties, speak out now or hold your peace forever.

Nneka Ikem Anibeze is Special Assistant (media) to the Minister.

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