The appointment of Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari as the new Chief of Staff (CoS) to the President has attracted commendations from many Nigerians across the country. The appointment took effect on May 13, following the exit of the former CoS, Mallam Abba Kyari. There is no doubt that Gambari is eminently qualified for the job. Former Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Professor George Obiozor, described his appointment as fantastic, while to Professor Bola Akinterinwa, erstwhile Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos, Gambari was a diplomat to the core. We agree no less with them.
The Chief of Staff is generally seen as a personal staff of the President. The occupant is apparently the engine room of the administration and he must ensure that there is harmonious working relationship among other presidential aides. We believe that Gambari is the right man for the job, considering his pedigree in academic and diplomatic spheres as well as his experience in human and institutional management.
We commend the President for appointing Gambari for the job. We also hope that the president will use his second tenure to implement policies that will uplift the nation and all Nigerians. In terms of education and capacity, Gambari has all that is required for the office of the CoS. Born in 1944, Gambari had his secondary education at the Provincial Secondary School (now Government Secondary School), Ilorin, before proceeding to Kings College, Lagos.
He attended the London School of Economics where he obtained the Bachelor of Science degree in Economics in 1968. In 1970, he obtained the master’s degree in Political Science and PhD in International Relations in 1974 from Columbia University, United States.
He is the Founder/Chairman of the Board of Directors of Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development – a non-governmental organisation that focuses on research, policy studies, advocacy and training on the nexus between conflict prevention and resolution, democratisation and development in Africa.
At the international level, he held many key diplomatic positions such as the first United Nations Under-Secretary General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Africa (1999-2005); Chairman of the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid (1990-1994) and on Peace-Keeping Operations (1990-1999).
Between 2005 and 2007, Gambari was Head of the United Nations Department of Political Affairs and also operated as UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Cyprus, Zimbabwe and Myanmar as well as Special Representative in Angola.
He served as Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) from 1990 to 1999. Other positions held by Gambari included serving as Joint AU/UN Special Representative in Darfur and Head of UNAMID (2010-2012). He was the Minister for External Affairs from1984 to 1985. Until his appointment as CoS, Gambari was the Chairperson of the Panel of Eminent Persons of the African Peer Review Mechanism.
Good enough, the new CoS is coming to the office at a time Nigeria is in dire need of proactive and strategic engagements with its citizens and the outside world. With the ravaging effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the demand on Nigeria for self-sufficiency, his role in coordinating the activities of other aides of the president for good governance becomes more compelling.
We believe that Gambari is adequately prepared for the task ahead. With the endorsements that greeted his appointment, it is expected that Gambari will patriotically discharge his duties. Gambari’s role is very critical to the stability of the government. He should handle his office with fairness and ensure equal treatment to all Nigerians on matters of access to the President. It is worth recalling his pledge on inauguration that he owes loyalty to the President. He should not disappoint the president who appointed him as well as Nigerians who have demonstrated enormous confidence in him. We enjoin him to always tell the president the truth about the situation of things in the country, especially now that the country is grappling with many socio-economic challenges.
At the same time, we enjoin Nigerians to give the new CoS the needed cooperation in the discharge of his duties. We congratulate him on his well-deserved appointment and wish him a seamless tour of duty.