Gambari’s Critics And The Limit Of Mischief, By Gidado Ibrahim

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The events heralding the appointment of the erudite Prof Ibrahim Agboola Gambari has generated two opposing narratives. While the overwhelming majority of Nigerians are celebrating the appointment of one of Nigeria’s finest administrator, diplomat and scholar, disgruntled elements who mean no good for Nigeria are, on the other hand, throwing tantrums to distract a man that is yet to settle down to his duties as chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari.
While it is natural that every man is entitled to his own opinion, it should be noted that glaring display of rascality and brash utterances are inimical to the peaceful and corporate existence of Nigeria. These weaker elements who yesterday mortgaged Nigeria’s interests to service their pedestal and narrow appetite are today putting on the garb of angel to judge others as if they don’t have their past.
For this category of professional critics, the main target is how to pull down or distract Presiddnt Muhammadu Buhari from pursuing his lofty transformation of the country in all sectors. Let it be known that President Buhari has earned the trust of Nigerians and no amount of distractions will whittle down his resolve.

Majority of Nigerians have lauded President Buhari’s decision, saying the choice of Gambari is a round peg in a round hole. Let me summarily reiterate what learned men of goodwill have said concerning the appointment of Prof Ibrahim Gambari: “This is one of the best appointments President Buhari has ever made.”

Who else do we need at a time of global inconsistencies, uncertainties and trials than a man of all round personae like Prof Gambari who has been found worthy in character, competence and credibility? Someone who has made friends across global socio-political and economic divides is the man.
In their desperation to drive concocted mischief, they went far back as to when might and government governed societies to dig up lies against Prof Gambari. To the rational mind, their intention is simple: to discredit and distract him. Every ethnic group is a stranger where they currently live and may not know who our forefathers displaced when they came. How is Prof Ibrahim Gambari connected to what happened almost 200 years ago?
Come to think of it, how did the campaigns of Napoleon Bonaparte undermine the place of France in the politics of Europe? For these cowards to rely on what happened years ago shows how medieval their thinking pattern could be! What should be of utmost concern to Nigerians today is the ability to deliver and not historical jargons.
What’s more? I cannot fathom why we think it absurd for a professor of more than 30 years standing to correct or guide a young journalist on how to pattern his question. Are we in any way insinuating that Seun Akibaloye of Channels is all-knowing? The current scenario is like giving dog a bad name in order to hang it. If not, why will Prof Gambari of global repute correct a young journalist and it becomes an issue?
Apart from being Nigeria’s External Affairs minister some 35 five years ago, Nigeria’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Under Secretary General at the UN and other diplomatic appointments, Prof Gambari has parleyed with leading journalists around the world, hence, over qualified to redirect a young journalist into line.
Except for our selfish motive, let’s stop making issues out of nothing. Let us call a spade a spade; these unsolicited public commentaries don’t mean we’ll for Nigeria. If not, how can any sane person advance the argument that Prof Gambari supported Gen Sani Abacha to kill Ken Saro Wiwa and others? Given the international uproar against the 1995 killing, how come Prof Gambari still commands this enormous respect in the international arena if what the critics claim is true? Nothing can farther from the truth. The people fanning this ember of hate are either facing corruption allegation and are merely throwing tantrums to whip up public sentiment or are drowning and are looking for any available person to hold on to.
Who among these noise makers has Prof Gambari’s resume? Who among them has his pedigree and strength of character? Who among them has his kind of composure, comportment and reliability? Let it be stated categorically here that the era of maligning senior citizens for a token is over. A cursory research is what these critics need to know that across the globe, no president can boast of a chief of staff with intimidating credentials like the one possesses by the new CoS to the president of our great country.
The Chief of Staff is the head of the president’s personal staff; thus, an emotionally stable character is required to manage that office. I am not sure these noisemakers, by any stretch of imagination, possess these qualities.
Yet, others have hired professionals in hatchet jobs to knock Prof Gambari’s appointment in order to settle scores. They have sponsored opinions and editorials to rub mud on his hard earned credibility. But well-meaning Nigerians are not gullible. The time has come to ring it loud that no food for professional scammers who prey on people’s good intentions. It is high time law enforcement agencies clamped down on extortionists lurking under the cloak of criticisms to defame others.

Those giving credence to their mischief are victims of what renowned columnist and former presidential spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati, summed up thus: “The clear danger to public affairs commentary is that we have a lot of unintelligent people repeating stupid clichés and too many intelligent persons wasting their talents lending relevance to thoughtless conclusions”.
In retrospect, Prof Gambari served as the Minister for External Affairs between 1984 and 1985 under General Muhammadu Buhari’s military regime, after he was the director general of The Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA). From 1990 to 1999, he holds the record of being the longest serving Nigerian Ambassador to the United Nations, serving under five Heads of State and Presidents.
Gambari has held several positions in the United Nations. In 1999, he was the President of UNICEF and later became UN under secretary-general and the first Special Adviser on Africa to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan from 1999 to 2005. He was the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations for Political Affairs from 2005 to 2007 under Secretary-General’s Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-Moon. His last appointment in the UN was from January 2010 to July 2012, when he was appointed by Ban Ki-moon and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission as the Joint African Union-United Nations Special Representative for Darfur.
With this bumper resume, no one is more qualified to lead President Buhari’s back room staff than Prof Gambari. All that is required is for all hands to be on deck to make his assignment a success.

– Ibrahim is director of communication and strategic planning of the Presidential Support Committee (PSC).

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