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 decides to go to the gutter level, one would have expected the gatekeepers in Vanguard, especially the Saturday Editor/Group Sports Editor to have trashed the story as its publication did more harm to the image of Vanguard Newspapers, its owner, its 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 travelers 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.
So where did Egbokhan and his editor pick up their evidence which they used as the headline of the story? Was anybody ‘copiously’ quoted? Apart from the phantom quote, the article is filled with inconsistencies, illogical arguments, bad grammar, manipulations, falsehood and is bereft of creativity which keeps the human mind pondering over the level of education of the author and his boss, the clarity of their thoughts, their knowledge of ethics of journalism, media practice, their sense of fairness and justice.
Let facts speak. Egbokhan is assessing sports in the last 12 months, yet he expects Honourable Dalung, appointed six months ago to account for 12 months of stewardship. Only a half-baked assessor, saturated with hate, possibly an undertaker of pecuniary consideration with commissioned motives will demand for stewardship of a period Dalung was not in office.
Armed with bias, Egbokhan twisted facts about NFF crisis by portraying the Minister in bad light, knowing fully well that the crisis predated his appointment.
Even a google search would reveal to Egbokhan that the Minister and the key officials of the Ministry of Youths and Sports since assumption of office identified with the Pinnick Amaju-led board of the NFF and also provided them both material and financial support required for success.
If Egbokhan and his editor had done the basics of journalism which is fact-checking, they would have stumbled on articles, publications and statements of the Honourable Minister in the last few months warning individuals and groups against any act capable of causing breach of the peace in Nigeria football. Dalung also made it clear that whoever tested the will of law will definitely face the full wrath.
However, Egbokhan opted to ignore these unarguable facts that are in the public domain all in the zeal of his pay masters to distort the narratives. Only neophytes in sports or agents of falsification like Egbokhan will blame the Honourable Minister for Nigeria’s non-qualification for 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. Before the Honourable Minister’s appointment, the Amaju led board of NFF which led the Super Eagles not to qualify for the 2015 Nations Cup had equally subjected the 2017 qualifications in serious jeopardy due to improper management of the team, a situation the board admitted and apologized to Nigerians.
The management of the Super Eagles for the Nations Cup qualifiers was poorly handled by the Glass House leading to prosecuting the qualifiers with three coaches and three captains. Angered by this development, many Nigerians did not only call for the sacking of Football leadership for the non-qualification, but also wanted the National team disbanded. Egbokhan ignored all these facts within public domain and blamed the Honourable Minister all in a bid to fulfill Vanguard’s commitments of not seeing any thing good in him.
Egbokhan infuriated by hate failed to accord the Minister the credit for the U-23 team’s qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Football event. While the U-23 team was facing qualification campaigns in Senegal, NFF leaders were in Europe watching European football league matches. It was the Honourable Minister that responded promptly to a distress call from Coach Samson Siasia and members of the U-23 team for intervention which enabled the team to participate in the championships, win the trophy and qualify for the Olympics. Our U-17 team also won the World Cup in Chile.
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 bedeviling preparation for Rio 2016 Olympics is attributed to misapplication of the funds released to the defunct NSC for that purpose.
The war against corruption and misuse of public funds is cardinal to the President Buhari’s administration. The Honourable Minister deserves commendation rather than condemnation for asking for those entrusted with public funds to account for how it was spent.
Apart from making accountability and good governance his watchword since assumption of office six months ago, the Honourable Minister, despite the mismanagement of funds for preparation for the Rio Olympics, has been able to ensure the qualification of athletes from more than eight sports for the games, the highest being athletics where over 30 athletes have qualified.
Barrister Dalung on assumption of office, identified lack of facilities and equipment as the bane of sports development in Nigeria. He has not only set up a committee to do a thorough audit of sports facilities and equipment in the country. He has started the resuscitation of moribund facilities. One example is the Swimming Pool at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos. The swimming pool was abandoned for 20 years but is now ready for use. The minister also organized a professional evaluation of the decadence at the National stadium since 1999, redrawing the design of the stadium and concluding plans to start renovation.
The Honourable Minister has also set up a sports restructuring committee with the responsibility of fashioning out a model that will move our sports from the service oriented model he inherited to a development oriented model. The Ministry has also supported athletes in various capacities despite paucity of funds. In Table Tennis, Aruna Quadri won the men’s single event at the Africa Top 16 championship in Sudan while in Weightlifting, Nigeria won 11 gold, 7 Silver and two bronze medals at the African qualifying tournament held in Yaounde May, 2016.
In March 2016, our wrestlers won 4 gold, 3 silver and 3 bronze medals in the Cairo Senior Wrestling Championships. Also in Wrestling, our athletes won 4 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals at the Africa/Oceania 2016 qualifier held in Tunis. Wrestling qualified 7 athletes for Rio Olympics in April 2016 while in Powerlifting, Nigeria won 1 silver and 3 bronze medal in IPC 2015 European Open held in Hungary from November 24th to 30th 2015. In Scrabble, Wellington Jighere in November 2015 won the World English language Scrabble Players Championships in Perth, Australia.
The Honourable Minister has been able to attract investors and has been undertaking projects without a budget. In the youth arm of the ministry, the Honourable Minister has initiated The National Accelerated Youth Development Programme (NAYDEP) aimed at reaching and maintaining a database of at least 18 Million youths nationwide; one million in each of the 18 thematic issues of the National Youth Policy by December 2016. The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development will also mobilize and deploy one million youths (from the 18 million) as Change Agents, Change Champions and Transformation Entrepreneurs before the end of 2018.
Barrister Dalung has created a Youth Development Financing Trademark (BBSF) as well as Brands and Business that will shape our youths’ future and facilitate the creation of 100,000 jobs through Transformation Enterprises in two years. It will also facilitate the establishment of 109 Youth Business Clusters, 1 in each Senatorial District and FCT by 2019. The Honourable Minister has also launched a portal called Young Nigerian Investors and innovators to help link young Nigerians with the global market.
He is on the verge of signing an MOU with Peugeot Auptomobile Nigeria to launch a Youth Taxi Scheme. 200 Youths per state will be given cars through various cooperatives to pay back on hire purchase basis.
He is working with UNIDO to train Youth Development officers nationwide in entrepreneurial skills. In just six months, the Honourable Minister, working with his colleagues, has set up an inter-ministerial committee on job creation for youths and has developed a content note for presentation to the African Development Bank.
The Honourable Minister has also developed a strategic framework for youth empowerment which will be presented to the Federal Executive Council for approval. Others include reformation of the National Youth Council of Nigeria and the Youth Empowerment Programme with Innoson Motor Vehicle Manufacturing Company and others.
The above are just a few of the Honourable Minister’s achievements in six months which led to his getting accolades from Nigerians. He who comes to equity, they say, must come with clean hands.
We challenge John Egbokhan to show his scorecard in journalism since he became one. He and his co-conspirators of pull Honourable Dalung down in Vanguard will try, but just as they have failed previously, they will continue to fail. No level of intimidation, wailing by wailers and blackmail could dissuade or deter the change agenda in sports.
To the Hon Minister of Youth and Sports
Source: National Mirror (P.47), Guardian (P.56) and Daily Trust (P.50)