The recent appointment of Professor Agboola Ibrahim Gambari as the Chief of Staff to President Buhari has continued to generate interests and commendations; not just in Nigeria but also within the diplomatic community and by extension, within strategic world leaders.
According to many progressives and diplomats that spoke with Diplomatic Vista; appointment of Amb. Gambari could not have come at a better time for Nigeria. At a time that Nigeria needed stability, direction and a respectable voice amongst the comity of nations, President Buhari couldn’t have been far from hitting the bull’s eye with this appointment.
With a professional career that spans almost forty years, Professor Gambari had served the Nigerian government at crucial times in the past, plus various appointments with international community and the UN agencies. He commands so much respect within the country and right across the globe, haven worked with former SecretaryGeneral of the UN and various Heads of governments at various points during his professional career. Right up to the time of his appointment, he co-chairs the Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance at The Hague Institutes of Global Justice and the Stinson Centre at Washington D.C, USA.
Considering his pedigree, distinguished national and international network, remarkable goodwill, and unique wealth of experience; both his supporters and distractors cannot deny the educational accomplishments, unflinching patriotism and professional competence of Professor Gambari to handle the job at hand.
An alumni of London school of Economics with BSc Economic (1968), specialising in International Relations, Gambari then proceeded to obtain MA and PHD in Political Science and International relations at the United States at Columbia University, New York.
A passionate academia, Professor Gambari started lecturing immediately after his studies, first at City University of New York, and later at University of Albany. Between 1982 and 1984, he lectured at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, heading the Department of Political Science and International studies. He was also a visiting Professor at three renowned universities in the United States Between 1984 and 1989.
A disciplined, focused and purposeful individual, Professor Gambari’s diplomatic career has followed a structured and clear pathway. He began in 1984 as Director-General, Institute of International Affairs and was subsequently appointed as Ambassador /Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations from 1990 -1999. During this period, he was Chairman of the UN Special Committee against Apartheid (1990-1994). This was a defining period in Professor Gambari’s diplomatic career.
It was a challenging and complicated period for the world at large, and Nigeria was the focal point on the global scene for many complex reasons. Ambassador Gambari’s diplomatic experience, unique communication and interpersonal skills played a significant part in navigating out of the various mucky situations he was asked to handle. This paved way for him to subsequently have an illustrious engagement at the United Nations for almost 20 years.
To underscore his ‘rare’ distinguish leadership and professional pedigree at the UN; as soon as his tenure ended as Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, he was appointed as the first United Nation’s Under-SecretaryGeneral and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Africa from 19992005. At the same period (2002-2003), he was the Resident Representative of Secretary-General and Head of the UN Mission to Angola.
He also served in various other capacities; as Under-Secretary General and Head of the United Nations Department of Political Affairs (2005-2007) and later as Under-Secretary General and Special Adviser on Iraq until 2009.
On the national landscape, Professor Gambari has been very active; advocating for good governance, peace and conflict resolution. He is the founder /chairman of Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development; a non-govermental organization for democratization and development of Africa.
His patriotic effort for Nigeria’s stability came to full glare during 2015 election when Prof. Gambari broker a peaceful election declaration forum that brought the major presidential candidate together; including the former President Jonathan Goodluck and President Buhari.
Irrespective of the reservations that have been expressed since his confirmation as the new chief of staff, the appointment of the Prof. cannot be faulted in terms of experience, professional competence, and ability to galvanize all the relevant stakeholders in the project Nigeria.
Major attributes that cannot be overlooked includes the depth of respect the Prof. commands both in Nigeria and within the international community, and his goodwill that is far reaching right across the globe. To his credit, he is nobody’s push-over, he will look at you in the eyes and say it as it is, and you can count on him as a Chief of Staff that will hold his grounds for the right reasons. Those who know him very well will vouch that Agboola Ibrahim Gambari has come to create a legacy and footprints that will always be the benchmark for a Chief of Staff.
At a time that Nigeria needs to consolidate internally, generate international support for social development and attract foreign direct investment, Prof. Gambari’s presence at the Villa will not only boost confidence within the nation, it will re-assure world leaders of Nigeria’s effective participation amongst the comity of nations.