Gambari: How not to love NigeriaThe recent appointment of Ibrahim Agboola Gambari as the Chief of Staff (CoS) to President Muhammadu Buhari has been in the headlines for various reasons, some positive and others not so. Depending on the angle it is viewed from, the position is very important, hence all the commentaries. We have chosen to see it from our own lenses, and for very compelling reasons.

For the Niger Delta people, the new appointment is a good one and an opportunity for a fresh perspective on various national issues; one anchored on the impressive track record of the new occupant of the office, having been involved in the resolution of several similar crisis situations all over the world. His appointment, according to many, presents a fresh opportunity to help address the almost crisis situation in the Niger Delta, where the goose that lays the proverbial golden egg is grossly neglected.

This is so even against the background that the CoS is being vilified for statements made as the Nigerian Permanent Representative to the United Nations in the past. Professor George Obiozor, another experienced and distinguished diplomat, has shed more lights on the controversy generated by the statement at the centre of most of the present discourse. According to him, “it will be diplomatic ignorance to think that an Ambassador is sent abroad to condemn his government. An Ambassador has a right and duty to defend his government. He can come back and make suggestions at home.”  That,inour view, puts into proper context how the statement made then should be viewed.

Based on Gambari’s impeccable record and pedigree as the United Nations special envoy to several crisis torn and oppressed areas of the world, where he helped to successfully resolved crises, the need to give him a chance becomes very compelling.  Gambari is a consummate technocrat, and has no doubt, gained firsthand knowledge of the pains of the oppressedduring his diplomatic shuttles all over the world. His experience in the areas of conflict resolution, without sounding too repetitive, include but not limited to such assignments as the United Nations Special Envoy to  Dafur crisis in South Sudan, and also similar engagements to Angola, Cyprus and Myanmar among others.

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Gambari has, over the years, developed friendships with many great sons and daughters of the Niger Delta. Some of these relationships date far back to his days at King’s College, Lagos, where he was classmate and school mate with many people from the Niger Delta. The same is true at both the London School of Economics and Columbia University, and also, in the course of his working career. Most of the relationships still thrive till date. So, it comes as a big surprise  to these folksthat the same distinguished, detribalised, and very urbane diplomat is being castigated and maligned in the public by  those who obviously don’t know him well.

His appointment should be commended by all and sundry as one appointment made by the President,which can best be described as a round peg in a round hole – PERFECT FIT. The nation needs persons of hiscaliber in critical positions in our government.Various names were bandied around for the position, but eventually, the lotthe Kwara-born diplomat. It is indeed a breath of fresh air. We really need to give kudos to Mr. President for this Master Stroke of appointment.He, indeed, silenced many, including Ministers serving and retired as well as Governors. Also, for the first time, we have the international community reacting positively to an appointment in Nigeria, with many countries hailing the appointment.

We, the good people of Niger Delta, expect and hope that the CoSwill bring to bearon his new assignment, the vast experience garnered from resolving crises all over the world. The office of the CoS is very vital in the present administration. We, in the Niger Delta, believe that Gambari has all the qualifications and experiences to excel in this position, the same way he accomplished similar assignments at the world stage.

Written by the ‘Niger Delta Nationalities Forum-Lagos’



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