PROFFESOR IBRAHIM GAMBARI; A BLESSING OR A CURSE?
The death of Mallam Abba Kyari, Nigeria's most popular and powerful Chief of Staff of all time undoubtedly changed the nation's political permutations and created a big vacuum in the presidency, particularly in the inner circle of the president.
Apart from being President Buhari's most trusted ally, Kyari was described by many as Nigeria's de-facto president and the most influential political public holder. The president himself made him the crown prince after all.
In 2019, at the inauguration of the new executive cabinet, Buhari was quoted to have ordered his newly appointed ministers to channel all requests through Kyari's office. An action many described as official crowing of Kyari as the ‘’Assistant President’’.
This enormous influence commanded by Kyari within government circles during his lifetime elevated the status of the office from mere principal secretary of the president to a major determinant in the scheme of power, a sacred stool and a big shoe for anyone to fill.
A few days after Kyari's death, several names began to surface on the pages of newspapers and social media as possible replacement with different blocs and caucuses within the corridor of power lobbying aggressively to fill the vacant "throne". While the names of Adamu Adamu, Babagana Kingibe, Muhammed Bello and co were flying around, it became glaring that the president had other ideas; Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, an astute academic and diplomat who had served as foreign affairs minister in the cabinet of then General Buhari military regime. His appointment was an affirmation that Buhari has a way of rewarding and recycling old loyal allies, people who will easily dance to his despotic tunes. Gambari is here to finish what Kyari started; being the foreman in the "Buhari alone" project. It was said that Kyari never respected and honoured Nigerians, it was all about Buhari. Gambari will not be any better.
Could Gambari be that ingredient the President need to succeed?
Owing to his meritorious career as a diplomat and Nigeria former permanent representative to the United Nations, coupled with a glorious spell in the academics, one will agree that the Ilorin-born Prince ticks all the boxes as a round peg in a round hole. And it is expected that he will bring to the fore his scholarly intellect, international network, professional and administrative experience in ensuring the smooth running of the president's office and support the government to provide good governance and successfully assist the president to deliver the next level programme for the masses benefit.
Gambari is seen by many -and arguably so- to be an honest gentleman and decent Nigerian who epitomises the Nigerian dreams. His appointment is considered as a major win for the presidency and the nation as a whole considering the intense lobbying of different political wings all of whom lost out eventually.
Beyond doubt, Gambari would deploy his wealth of experience to bring good governance to bear on the Buhari administration.
But then, can this man be trusted? Is Gambari really unblemished?
While there are so much optimism in people's expectation of this erudite scholar, a dig into the past has revealed that there is a looming danger ahead. Gambari's record on human rights issues, democracy and rule of is not smiling, but rather too gory for the sight of history. It is a known fact that the new Chief of staff was a die-hard agent of the late military dictator, Sani Abacha, and did 'everything' to defend the countless atrocities of the Abacha regime while serving as the Nation's UN permanent representative. He openly supported the evil killing of the late environmental activist, Ken Saro Wiwa and others fighting for the right if Ogoni people, describing the activists as "common criminals". His unhidden support for the annulment of the June 12 election is still shocking till date.
As a staunch supporter of the Abacha evil regime, he never pretended to support the positions during the terror years pf Abacha almost destroyed the nation. Gambari during this time was always busy making efforts in painting the devil a saint in the international scene. Despite the visible dehumanisations, oppression and killings, Gambari informed the world that Abacha "has not opressed anyone".
At a time Nigeria and indeed the whole of the world was clamouring for a return to democracy and agitating that Nigerians should be entitled to determine who lead them, Gambari held the opinion that Nigeria was not yet ripe for democracy. He stated that "Nigeria's problems are not fully understood by those who ought to know better. You cannot bring Democracy overnight. You cannot export democracy".
Gambari, a man with clear disdain for the rule of law and democracy, had at different point in time vehemently opposed anything that has to do with democracy and human rights. He openly opposed the renaming of a street in New York after Kudirat Abiola, who was killed by Abacha agents of death. That is to clearly shows the extent the man went to protect the satanic interest of the most dangerous dictator in Nigeria's history.
Now, the question begging for answer is; what will be the state and fate of human rights, democracy and Nigeria's interest in the next few years with the appointment of an anti- democracy marshall and an ardent supporter of fascism?
Brilliancy or intellectual prowess is not enough criterion to be a democrat, believing in the ideals of democracy and having a record of supporting same cause is the requisite, and that is clearly missing in the new Chief of Staff.
While we wish Prof. Gambari well, it is important to welcome him with caution and watch him closely as he functions in his new role.