Gambari, which kind of CoS?

Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, President Buhari’s Chief of Staff
Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, President Buhari’s Chief of Staff

The appointment of Professor Ibrahim Gambari as the new Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari to replace late Abba Kyari whose death from COVID-19 complications has become a matter of discussion in the country. After intense lobbying and political hullabaloo among the various political groups, actors and cabals, Mr. President has finally settled for Ibrahim Gambari.

The new chief of staff is not new to Nigerians. He is a diplomat and former university teacher with intensive network and experience from the United Nations. Professor Ibrahim Gambari is a polished and cosmopolitan individual whose academic background and wealth of experience cannot be questioned within the country and international domains.

As aptly captured and reported, the new CoS worked with seven heads of state. Prof Gambari was Buhari’s minister of foreign affairs between 1984 and 1985. With these impeccable and intimidating qualifications and experience spanning decades, Professor Gambari is eminently qualified to fill the vacuum left by late Abba Kyari.

Professor Gambari’s appointment, like any others, has been greeted or knocked by criticism and commendation across the political divides, while some groups of optimists are of the opinion that the appointment of Gambari came at a time of high expectations from Nigerians on the government he is going to serve.


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However, the pessimistic group describe the appointment as wrong, hinging their argument or views on his age, region and how he defended the execution of late Niger-Delta environmental activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, while serving in the United Nations (UN). Whatever his misgivings, Gambari is believed to possess the qualities and capacity to serve as chief of staff.

The posers begging for answers however are: Which kind of CoS is Gambari likely to be? Will Gambari be as powerful as the late Kyari?

Constitutionally speaking, the office of CoS is not recognised by law. However, former President Obasanjo introduced it and made Abdullahi Mohammed his CoS. Ever since, with the exception of the Yar’adua government, the office is being recognised. The introduction of the office which is referred to as “the gatekeeper” is to copy or model our system along American federalism. In America, chief of staff is more powerful than the Vice President. No wonder, late Abba Kyari wielded enormous power with some people who described him as de facto president. The office, from how the occupier operated, indicated it was created to bar the torrent of unnecessary visitation to Mr President’s office, which will ultimately distract his attention. After President Buhari had inaugurated his cabinet for his second term, he directed them to meet late Abba if they needed his attention. The directive attracted a barrage of criticism and opposition from Nigerians.

On whether Gambari will be different from late Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, who seemed powerful, created too many enemies and took many bullets for his boss. When confronted by the media on how he would operate as a new chief of staff, Gambari replied, “I will report to the office of Mr President not Nigerians”. If Gambari, in the course of exercising his duties earn the trust and confidence of the president, he will not be different from late chief of staff and vice-versa!

Ibrahim Mustapha Pambegua, Kaduna state

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