Gambari: Nothing beats expertise
President Muhammadu Buhari deserves accolades for his sound decision in picking a career diplomat, an academic of high standing and a man of global reputation, Professor Ibrahim Gambari as his Chief of Staff after the demise of Malam Abba Kyari, his former gatekeeper at the Villa.
Convincingly, Gambari is bringing in administrative experience and acumen acquired in the management of men and resources to bear on his new job at the State House.
Since his assumption of office as Buhari’s new “head-boy”, the former Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) has continued to discharge his duties professionally and respectfully both on the vertical and horizontal dimensions.
On the vertical, Gambari ensures that his principal is always protected, represented and satisfied in any tasks assigned to him. On the horizontal level, despite his position as “head-boy”, reports show that his charismatic nature works wonders for him as though a great disciplinarian, he relates with his subordinates with esteemed respect.
No doubt, these positive virtues stand him out. An adage says, “a house that is divided cannot stand”. By Gambari’s expertise in excellently organising Buhari’s team for service delivery, certainly, the job of his principal in presiding over the affairs of the nation will continue to gather momentum. However, it must be noted that his exceptional virtues didn’t come by surprise but determination, hardwork and experiences garnered over the years from many reputable organisations.
The new Chief of Staff’s outstanding performance since assumption of office should serve as a message to those in authority vis-à-vis hiring people for public service. It is absurd for someone with no track record of engagements in the public service to jump the queue and find himself in the highest office of the country or in a state merely on account of nepotism or personal relationship with the hirer.
Nemo dat quod non habet rule says it all. Nobody can give what he doesn’t have. The highest office of the land demands men and women with an incontrovertible track record of experiences for productivity and optimum service delivery. Any administration that is resolute to make remarkable impacts must first and foremost ensure its human resources constitute people that have something to bring to the table. Anything inconsistent to this is a gaffe. In any well-balanced clime and setting, value precedes glamour.
For instance, Gambari was once the first Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Africa (1999-2005). In that capacity, he worked closely with heads of government, key policymakers as well as institutions in the continent to develop the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).
At the same time, he was the Resident Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission to Angola (2002-2003). From record, he was a delegate to the Assembly of the African Union as a national delegate (1984-1985) and as a member of the UN Secretary-General’s delegation (2000-2012).
His last duty post at the United Nations was as the Joint Special Representative of the Secretary General and Chairperson of the African Union Commission/Head of the UN and AU Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) from January 2010 to July 2012. During this period, UNAMID was the world’s largest international peacekeeping mission.
He was also the Chairman of the UN Special Committee Against Apartheid (1990-1994) during which he worked closely with African governments to coordinate UN policy to eradicate apartheid.
In 2007, he was appointed by the Secretary-General as Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Iraq Compact and Other Issues, positions he held until 2009. Prior to joining the United Nations, he had served as Nigeria’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 1990 to 1999. And many others.
As an academic, Gambari began his teaching career at the City University of New York. He also taught at the University of Albany and also served as a Visiting Professor at three universities in Washington DC: Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Georgetown University and Howard University.
In Nigeria, Gambari was a lecturer at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He was the pioneer Chancellor of the Kwara State University. Before his appointment as the new Chief of Staff, he was the Special Adviser on the International Compact with Iraq and Other Issues for the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Clearly, the diplomat who majored in Political Science and International Relations has held several leadership positions at the national, regional and international. He also served as Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1984 to 1985.
To sum, government and governance do not work by chance but quality of persons on duty. It is largely based on ‘garbage in – garbage out’. Government is no doubt a serious business. A position of gatekeeper in national and state governments demands highly trained persons who wouldn’t compromise.
With Ambassador Gambari on duty post, it is believed that it cannot be business as usual. No soothsayer is needed to say that as professor of high standing with global records, Gambari cannot afford to enthrone mediocrity at the expense of expertise. This is believable in the era of professionalism. As President Buhari has done the needful by putting a square peg in a square hole by Ambassador Gambari’s appointment, it is obvious he will not fail in the sensitive assignment. From there, state and local governments across the nation will learn and possibly queue up ensuring that the best brains are assembled for governance. Best wishes CoS… Best wishes CoS.
Isowo, a public affairs analyst wrote this piece from Ilorin, Kwara State.