The reassurances by the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, that the president will leave the legacies of free, fair and credible elections and for making significant investments in the nation’s infrastructure could not have come at a better time.
This is even as he said that with Nigeria projected to be the third most populated nation in the world after India and China by 2050, the country deserves a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council.
According to a statement by Assistant Director, Information, Patience Tilley-Gyado, Gambari spoke while addressing members of the Legislative Mentorship Initiative (LMI) on a learning visit to the State House at the weekend.
He said that Nigeria cannot be ignored in international affairs, considering its contributions to international peacekeeping and economic potential. Gambari said the President has laid a solid foundation for youth empowerment.
On the legacies of President Buhari, particularly his respect for the constitutional term limit, Gambari said: “Mr President will be remembered for his commitment to free and fair elections in this country. He has said many times that Nigerians must be respected, their votes must count and he is committed to leaving by the time the administration comes to an end on May 29, 2023.”
The chief of staff added that President Buhari has led by example on probity and accountability in governance, stressing that the nation will also remember him for that.
“When people talk about the legacies President Buhari is leaving behind, it is important to mention the infrastructure legacy- the 2nd Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, the Abuja-Kano expressway, the network of roads and railways across the country, the ports and the power sector.
“It is important to emphasize power because without it and infrastructure the full stature of a nation cannot be realized.”
On the president’s commitment to youth development, Gambari noted that the recently signed Startup Act 2022 has the youth as a major beneficiary, as it recognizes the creativity of youths and seeks to empower them as productive entrepreneurs.
He described the projected contribution of the Act to the national economy as tremendous, citing successes recorded in Morocco, Tunisia and India.
On Nigeria’s quest for the expansion of the 15-member Security Council, Gambari, who has served as Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Permanent Representative to the UN in New York and first Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser to UN Secretary-General on Africa (1999-2005), told the young people on the excursion to the State House:
“I think you are fortunate to be born a Nigerian. By the year 2050, according to UN statistics, Nigeria will be the third most populous country in the world after India and China. A country that is the third most populated in the world must remain united, strong and prosperous and cannot be ignored in international affairs.
“If you are the third most populous country in the world then the campaign for a permanent seat in the United National Security Council is one that we will find enormous support because you cannot ignore its people and potentials.”
Gambari commended the Speaker of the House of Representatives and Founder of LMI, Femi Gbajabiamilla, for making an impact in the lives of young people through training and mentoring the next generation of legislators and ethical public sector leaders.
He urged the LMI fellows to maintain close contact with each other and remain focused and united in order to overcome the challenges facing the nation. “People refer to you as leaders of tomorrow. I think it is a misnomer. You are already leaders of today because Nigeria depends on what you do and the part you have taken.
“You are Fellows-in-Training that are already leaders of today because you have been selected from millions of other possibilities shows that you are already making a mark.
“Do not be intimidated by titles like ‘Chief of Staff’, because we all started from somewhere,” Gambari told the LMI programme fellows, recounting his humble beginnings from a ‘village primary school’ in Ilorin, Kwara State.
Welcoming the Fellows-in-Training to State House, the Permanent Secretary, Tijjani Umar, engaged them on the history, role and priorities of State House in providing top-notch services to the President and Vice President towards the effective discharge of their responsibilities to Nigeria.
Umar expressed the willingness of the top management of the State House to support the process of building a new generation of public sector leaders.
Mr Dapo Oyewole, Director LMI, who represented the Speaker, commended the Chief of Staff and the Permanent Secretary for hosting the LMI Fellows-in-Training.
Gambari’s assurance of free, fair and credible elections in the country is not only timely but will go a long way to consolidate on the successes recorded by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in the recent off-cycle elections in Osun, Ekiti and Anambra states.
Indeed, the adoption of technology like the Biometric Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, and the electronic transmission of results by the electoral umpire is a clear demonstration of President Buhari’s resolve to deepen democratic practices in Nigeria.