The appointment of Professor Ibrahim Gambari as the new chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari to replace late Mallams Abba Kyari, who died of 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 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 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 domain.
As aptly captured and reported, the new chief of staff worked with seven heads of state. Professor Ibrahim 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 Kyari. Professor Gambari’s appointment, like many others, has been greeted or knocked by criticism and commendation across the political divides. The optimists are of the opinion that the appointment of Gambari has never come at right time than now, in view of high expectations from Nigerians on the government he is going to serve.
However, the pessimistic group described 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. Whatever the misgivings, Gambari is believed to have possessed the required qualities and capacity to serve as chief of staff. The posers are: what kind of CoS will Gambari will likely be? Will Gambari be as powerful as the late Kyari? Constitutional, the office of chief of staff is non-existented. However, former President Obasanjo introduced it and made Abdullahi Mohammed his chief of staff. Ever since, with the exception of Yar’Adua government, the office is being recognised.
The introduction of the office which is referred as”the gatekeeper” is to copy or model our system alongside 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 describing him as de-facto president.
The office was created to bar torrents of unnecessary visitation to Mr President, which will ultimately distract his attention. After President Buhari had inaugurated his cabinet for his second term, he directed them to meet late Kyari if they needed his attention. The directive attracted barrage of criticisms and opposition from Nigerians. On whether Gambari will be different from the late chief of staff, who seemed powerful, created too many enemies and took many bullets for his boss, is a matter of time. When confronted by the media on how he would operate as 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 the late chief of staff and vice-versa!
Ibrahim Mustapha,Pambegua, Kaduna state08169056963.