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Buhari may appoint Gambari as chief of staff today

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• Expect no change in govt, Balarabe Musa warns Nigerians
• Emir of Ilorin commends Buhari for ‘appointment’

Barring any last-minute change, President Muhammadu Buhari may officially appoint Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari as his new Chief of Staff (CoS) today. The appointment will fill the space created by the death of Abba Kyarion April 17, 2020 due to coronavirus.

Barely few hours after the body of the late chief of staff was committed to earth, politicians were said to have begun scheming to replace Kyari. The top contenders were thought to include: former Secretary to the Government of the Federation Babagana Kingibe; Minister of Education Adamu Adamu; Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika; Comptroller General of Customs Col. Hameed Ali; Governor Ahmed El-Rufai of Kaduna State; former Ogun State Governor Ibukunle Amusun; and former Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi. Buhari, however, had been in no hurry to make the appointment and had kept sealed lips as rumours about who would succeed the late Kyari flew around.

Without waiting for an official announcement, the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, yesterday commended Buhari for the appointment. In a statement released by his media aide, Mallam Abdulazeez Arowona, the emir described the appointment as a great honour to the people of Ilorin Emirate and Kwara State.

He said the choice of the former diplomat is justified by the outstanding contributions, administrative experience, scholarship and excellence he would bring to the Buhari administration.

The monarch congratulated Prof. Gambari on the appointment and wished him a successful tenure. He also expressed confidence in his ability to justify the trust reposed in him by Buhari.

But a former governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, said Nigerians should not expect any dramatic change in the Buhari government with the new appointment.

“I don’t think he can change the policy of this government and the ideological background of the president,” the opposition leader said in an interview yesterday. He said: “What is important is that he cannot force his ideas on Buhari. He can only receive instructions from the president. In other words, there will not be a dramatic change in governance.”

Musa described Gambari as a member of “the Kaduna mafia who stabilized the former governments of General Yakubu Gowon and Olusegun Obasanjo. I do not think that Buhari will give him a free hand to run the government as he did when the late Abba Kyari was CoS.

“I know Gambari. He is an intellectual and a capable hand. But will Buhari and those around allow him to perform and run his office for the benefit of the government and the nation?This I doubt.”

Gambari, who hails from Kwara State, is a scholar-diplomat and founder/chairman of the Board of Directors of Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development, a non-governmental think tank on research and policy studies on conflict prevention and resolution as well as democratization and development in Africa.

He has had an illustrious career, spanning academia, government and international diplomacy, culminating in his appointment as the first United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Africa (1999-2005).

In that capacity, Prof. Gambari worked closely with heads of government, key policymakers as well as institutions on the continent to develop the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

He also served as the Resident Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission to Angola (2002-2003) and was at one time a delegate to the Assembly of the OAU/African Union as a national delegate (1984-1985) and as a member of the UN Secretary-General’s delegation (2000-2012).

Gambari was the chairman of the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid (1990-1994) during which he worked closely with African governments to coordinate UN policy to eradicate apartheid, thereby building trust with governments and policymakers in member countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

He was Under-Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Department of Political Affairs (2005-2007). In that period, he also operated as UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Cyprus, Zimbabwe and Myanmar.

On May 22, 2007, the Secretary-General entrusted Gambari with the Good Offices Mandate on Myanmar. He was also appointed in 2007 by the Secretary-General as Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Iraq Compact and Other Issues, positions he held until 2009.

He currently co-chairs the Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance at the Hague Institute for Global Justice and the Stimson Centre at Washington D.C.

In January 2017, he was appointed a member and is currently Deputy Chairperson of the Panel of Eminent Persons of African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), a specialised agency of the African Union for the promotion of good governance at the political, economic and corporate levels.

On March 4, 2013, Gambari was appointed by the Kwara State Governor, Abdul Fatah Ahmad, as the pioneer Chancellor of the Kwara State University (KWASU), Ilorin, Nigeria. He was also appointed Pro-chancellor and chairman of the Board of Governing Council of Bayero University, Kano (BUK). He is married and has children and grandchildren.


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