It goes without saying, that Solomon Dalung divides opinion amongst Plateau citizens. To some, he is a brave man, who is courageous, forthright and a hero –to others he is a traitor, a sell-out and an opportunist who tries to curry the favour of the northern Hausa-Fulani elite by trading his own people.

Whichever way you view Solomon Dalung, one thing remains clear –his striking story from humble beginnings to his current lofty standing is nothing short of remarkable. An understated and relatively unknown young fellow from Sabon Gida, Langtang South who through determination, dexterity and courting of controversy rose to prominence and reckoning in the Plateau-sphere.

Dalung, having worked as Solomon Lar’s PA for several years, garnered significant political acumen on how to navigate the murky waters of politics. Especially with regards how to carve-out a political niche for himself to remain politically relevant.  A relatively unknown voice even as late as 2004, he cleverly identified the injustices being meted out to Hausa-Fulani citizens in Jos (who were at the time being denied citizenship certificates and treated as non-natives) as a political niche for himself. So, being a qualified lawyer, he determined to champion their cause from a human rights angle, as a means of gaining political relevance.  And that he did –and ever so brilliantly too.

Today he is viewed by that entire Northern bloc as a true champion of their cause. They admire his stance, courage and valour. As such, he enjoys immense patronage from  Northern leaders and politicians. To illustrate this point, he was invited to join several lofty and exclusive Northern caucuses including being appointed member of the highly esteemed and exclusive Northern Elders Forum –which boasts key Northern Stalwarts like Dr. Yusuf Maitama Sule (Nigeria’s first permanent representative to the United Nations), Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed (Former secretary of INEC), Prof. Auwalu Yadudu (Former Legal Counsel to Gen. Sani Abacha), Prof. Ango Abdullahi (respected Nothern elder), Air Vice Marshal Al Amin Daggash (Former Chief of Defence staff), Air Vice Marshal Mukhtar Mohammed amongst others.

On the home-front however, the story is different –many Plateau citizens loathe and disdain him, calling him all sorts of names –saying he’d sell his people for a broth of porridge. But is this really the case? Has his antecedents proven so? Well, I’d leave it to you, the reader to judge –but “Igbarman Otaroh” (as he is fondly referred) – even though aloof and controversial in many respects, demonstrates quite a penchant for his culture, as evidence by these footages:

Past Controversies

Solomon Dalung was famously sued by Jonah Jang for N1 billion for slander (In suit No. PLD/J267/2012 in the Plateau state high court). The suit was based on an interview Dalung granted on 27th December 2010 to Radio France International, in which he made scathing remarks against the person of the governor. This case has since been squashed, as Jonah Jang said he has since withdrawn and forgiven everyone who wronged him.

Dalung was also in sharp disagreement with Simon Lalong following his victory at the APC primaries at the Crest Hotel Jos, Plateau state on 5th December 2015 –citing massive irregularities and electoral fraud. He refused to endorse Lalong as winner and remained in disagreement even after Lalong was finally elected. A situation which many APC stalwarts have frowned at.

Additionally, during the numerous crisis in Jos North, Dalung made several controversial remarks about the ownership of Jos and its people, which Plateau natives have found quite dis-tasteful and and have therefore continued to vilified and sanction him.

Appointment as minister and what that means for Plateau and the politics of 2019

Rumour has it that Dalung has been pencilled down to be minister for interior. A very juicy and important ministerial position –which means he’d be in charge of key parastatals, like the Nigerian Police Force, Nigerian Immigrations Service, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigerian Prisons Service,  Federal Fire Service amongst others. Being an ideological fellow –akin to Muhammadu Buhari, there is no gainsaying that Dalung would apply his acute legal acumen and intellect to this role –but the extent to which he’d deliver, remains to be seen.

That said, what does his appointment portend for the politics of 2019 in Plateau? One thing is clear –the hugely popular Senator J T Useni may be too difficult to beat in the Southern senatorial zone and therefore that may deter Dalung from having a go. Having said that, Dalung has never shown real interest in contesting for the Plateau South senate seat anyway. He has always been inclined at the governorship seat, because he understands where his power bloc is (i.e., Jos North, Wase etc). He knows that the Hausa-Fulani will vote enmasse for his candidature should he emerge as the APC flagbearer –that is not to say natives wouldn’t vote him, but he appears to have a near-total support in these areas.

With that in mind, since Lalong currently occupies the Little Rayfield Government House, it may prove too difficult to offset him in the near term. So he may have to play the long game, by waiting to see if the relationship between Lalong and the Buhari sours –especially in the light of the persistent Fulani attacks on the Plateau. If these attacks continue and a spectacular fallout occurs between Lalong and Buhari, expect Dalung to pick the pieces of this fallout and capitalise on it.

That aside, being highly favoured by Buhari and the Northern elite, Dalung appears to be on an exclusive shortlist of a few individuals being prepped-up by Buhari for future Governorship roles in their respective states. A bit like Hajiya Aisha Jummai Alhassan (who contested and lost the Taraba Governorship seat narrowly to current governor – Darius Ishaku) and has now been nominated minister in Buhari’s cabinet. Also, remember Kayode Fayemi –the erstwhile governor of Ekiti state who lost to Ayo Fayose  –and has now also been nominated in Buhari’s cabinet as minister. Suffice it to say that Ayo Fayose (the current Ekiti Governor) has become a massive thorn in Buhari’s flesh and it is in his interest to flush him out -hence the leaning towards Fayemi.

With all that said, what is striking about Dalung’s appointment is that he beat Dame Pauline Tallen, who so much sought the ministerial nomination and vigorously courted Buhari and the APC leadership for the slot. She openly canvassed for support for Buhari when people said he was slow in appointing ministers, she travelled to several top APC functions to make herself visible and vehemently courted Hajiya Aisha Buhari –to no avail.

In closing, it is not news, that upon learning about Dalung’s rumoured appointment, several Plateau politicians started petitioning the president requesting that Dalung be dropped –but the reality is that Buhari, has a long term plan which he sees Dalung executing/facilitating and therefore all those petitions will only fall on deaf ears. Whether that is good or bad – I leave you the reader to decide.

By Dr. Chinan Mclean

count | 2326

Excitements and fears of Solomon Dalung becoming minister

About The Author