President Muhammadu Buhari put paid to speculations by appointing Professor Ibrahim AgboolaGambari as his new Chief of Staff to replace the late Mallam Abba Kyari who served in that capacity before he passed on last month. Professor Gambari was introduced during Wednesday’s meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at the council chambers, Aso Villa.
As President Buhari’s appointments go this one that has met with a high degree of approval and acceptance by a cross section of Nigerians. Professor Gambari brings to this job impeccable credentials that he cannot but be described as a square peg in a square hole.
His secondary school at the famous Kings College, Lagos to the London School of Economics for his first degree and then to the Ivy League Columbia University in New York for his masters and doctorate degrees speaks volumes of his sterling educational trajectory. His further academic career teaching and doing research in some universities in the United States including the highly regarded John Hopkins University established his academic standing as a scholar of high regard. By the time he came over to Nigeria to take up teaching at the department of political science Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, professor Gambari had clearly established himself as one of the A-listers in the world of Nigerian academia.
Professor Gambari’s forays into diplomatic service of Nigeria and the world are no less impressive. He started off as a member of the Nigerian delegation to the United Nations General Assembly and chalked further experience variously as Permanent Ambassador at the UN mission of Nigeria and capping it off with being Minister of Foreign Affairs. From there he transferred his service to the UN as a world diplomat rising to the position of Under Secretary- General (Political Affairs) a position from which he handled complex UN peace missions in Angola, Darfur Sudan, Iraq and Myanmar.
Following his exit from the UN he returned home to Nigeria to set up a non-governmental outfit, the Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development from where he continues to stage critical dialogues on issues pertaining to national, continental and global development and democracy.
Against this background of national and global service in diplomacy, Professor Gambari certainly ticks the right boxes coming into his new role as the Chief of Staff to President Buhari. Although there have been pockets of uncomplimentary comments about his appointment, these can be taken as normal burden that a person of such high achievements should bear in the course of his career. This however does not detract in any way from professor Gambari’s proven track record in the jobs he had handled before or the capacity he brings to his new role as Chief of Staff.
This is just as well because in his role as Chief of Staff he is expected as the chief executive aide to the president, to coordinate activities of the administration. In doing this it will serve him well to imbibe the lessons of his predecessor’s handling of the job. At this critical juncture what the job needs is a large measure of confidence building to restore trust and the necessary synergy among the various individuals and agencies of government which come under professor Gambari’s purview in his new role. This is a task he must undertake as seamlessly as possible without being abrasive and obtrusive.
While the job entails being unquestionably loyal to his principal the president, he must however be guided by overriding national interest. In this regard in order to discharge his duties without fear or favour he must not allow himself to come under the influence of so-called cabals if they actually exist or seek to create one.
We believe that as the experienced public officer he is, professor Gambari has taken all this on board as he gets to grips with his new role as Chief of Staff to President Buhari.