After the death of former Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari, who died of COVID-19 last month, Nigerians were apprehensive about who would step into the shoes of the man Buhari himself described as “our best.”
It was later, revealed that several names were touted as suitable replacements for Abba Kyari including those of a former Secretary to the Federal Government (SGF), Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Malam Nuhu Ribadu and a former military administrator of Lagos State, General Buba Marwa (rtd.)
However, we were informed that no one ever thought of Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, “a fine and an accomplished public officer with intimidating profiles.”
“As expected, the appointment of Professor Gambari as CoS by President Muhammadu Buhari was received with mixed feelings, but not a few Nigerians will agree that the Ilorin, Kwara State-born Prince is the best man for the job,” said an observer.
Sources close to the presidency revealed that by tomorrow, Wednesday, Professor Gambari would resume work at the Presidential villa and would be part of the virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting under the supervision of President Buhari.
Gambari, who was Buhari’s Foreign Minister and confidant as military Head of State in the 1980s, reportedly met with the President at about 8am on Tuesday at the State House, Abuja.
Reports had it that Gambari, as foreign minister, played a key role in quelling the diplomatic uproar generated by the failed attempt to kidnap Mallam Umaru Dikko from UK by the Buhari military government.
A scholar and seasoned diplomat, Gambari served as minister of External Affairs between 1984 and 1985.
He was appointed by former United Nations Secretary Ban Ki-moon and the chairperson of the African Union Commission as Joint African Union-United Nations Special Representative for Darfur in 2010.
He also served as Special Adviser on the International Compact with Iraq and Other Issues for the UN Secretary General. Prior to that, he served as Under-Secretary Generay of the United Nation for the Department of Political Affairs (DPA).
The new chief of Staff, an Ilorin prince, was born on November 24, 1944.
“Gambari brings with him experience, maturity, emotional intelligence and ability to lead self and others.
“These qualities were gotten over the years as Gambari has served the country both nationally and internationally.
“Indeed, only a matured and highly experienced man or woman who has the “patience, energy – balance and emotional intelligence to cope; listen well, sometimes repeatedly in a democracy and drive the system the way it should be done at this critical time, was part of what worked in favour of Agboola,” said a source, who maintained that the President consulted wide before reaching a conclusion on the appointment.
It was revealed that someone like Professor Gambari has the capacity to express his opinion and that he would be able to read the mind and lips of the President even when words are unspoken.
An observer said that “at this critical time of our development, a President needs such a person who will not only guide him right at times but, who he can entrust to build an enabling staff and work environment around him.
“Someone like Professor Gambari who is not overtly politically ambitious, who has achieved much and who is certainty not a politician, fits very well into the office of CoS to the President.
“Nigeria needs someone with international connection and experience like Professor Ibrahim Gambari as the nation’s current policy thrust is on globalisation, funds and investments sourcing, debt cancellation, then certainly any leader would be looking for someone with a global status.”
Highly respected Professor Gambari has reportedly occupied several international and national positions and he should be able to bring diplomacy to bear even now in public administration.
The duties of the Chief of Staff to the President, we were told, are clear cut and the foremost person to impress with his skills for the office is Mr President.
“Facts drawn from our nation’s modern democracy are relevant at this time.
“It will be recalled that former president Olusegun Obasanjo had Gen. Abdullahi Mohammed (Rtd) a contemporary, friend and confidant as Chief Of Staff
“Both of them were old and they worked excellently well between 1999 and 2007,” said a source.
Findings showed that when he got to office in 2007, the late president Umaru Musa Yar’Adua requested that Abdullahi Mohammed should stay on to help him stabilise his government.
It was also discovered that Gen. Mohammed left in 2008, handing over to the most senior aide in his office: Dr Gbolade Osinowo, who was before then the Special Adviser, Political Affairs to former president Olusegun Obasanjo.
Gbolade Osinowo, Ph.D was near 70 years then.
It will be recalled that former president Goodluck Jonathan at different times had two Chief Of Staff; Mike Oghiadomhe, and later Brigadier General Jones Oladeinde Arogbofa (Rtd) both of whom were President Jonathan’s contemporaries.
“With the entrance of Professor Ibrahim Gambari into Aso Rock as Chief of Staff to the President, then Nigerians should look forward to more proactive measures and better output in the area of provision of good governance for the people,” a source said.