It was in 1997 and I had just been elected as the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the African Society of International Studies (ASIS) at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. The association was in a near comatose state and there was a need to rescue her from the jaws of political death. At the handover ceremony, I was handed huge, dusty and near rusty files that revealed the fact that the association had an intellectual giant as the grand patron in the person of Professor Ibrahim Gambari who was the founder of the Bsc International Studies course in the Department of Political Science. There was a need to reach out to the grand patron and a team which I led was commissioned to embark on this task.
We made contact with the foreign affairs ministry and we were soon to find ourselves at the Abuja Sheraton Hotel and Towers. The simplicity of Professor Gambari was immediately noticeable when we finally met him. Prof would stop at nothing to provide mentorship and guidance to the association.
The credentials and experience of Professor Gambari inspires confidence in the fact that he has the capacity to handle naturally challenging tasks. He is a respected global citizen whose wealth of knowledge, experience and influence will be of immense benefit to our great nation at a time like this.
His appointment is a very clear indication that this administration may just be ready to reposition and strengthen its capacity to provide purposeful, “state of the art” leadership at a time this crucial. The appointment of this teacher and technocrat of global repute stands far above sentiment, melt conspiracy theories and will hopefully open the gates to a breath of fresh air.
The president has just refueled and increased the capacity of the seat of power to take direct, deliberate and measured shots at good governance.
The expectations are quite high for this gentle professor. With his inclusion in the leadership of the think-thank of Mr. President, I foresee an improved positioning and perception of Nigeria within the comity of nations. The executive arm of government may now have an opportunity to develop domestic policies that will in turn strengthen our foreign policy approach. His appointment will no doubt help to reverse some of the negative perceptions this administration may have suffered over the past few years.
Furthermore, his appointment will help to strengthen the much needed dignity, aura and reverence of our seat of power. This is professionalism restored. A reset button may have been activated. The fact that the new Chief of Staff is not a career politician will help to bring focus to governance.
In the same vein, Mr. President will himself be refreshed as his new Chief of Staff is a man of wisdom, knowledge and rich experience. He is never tired, always energetic. An extremely diligent professional just got into the saddle.
Nigerians should expect an era of bridge building, conflict resolution and less conflagrations. As an academic himself, I will expect that incessant labour crisis within the education sector will be better managed. The fact that he is a negotiator, peacemaker and seasoned diplomat should also raise our hopes that the many internal upheavals confronting the nation will be met with professional handling.
Nigerians will expect to see elaborate efforts being deployed to achieve extensive nation building, bridge building and balancing in the distribution of who gets what, when and how. His knowledge of the international political and economic environment coupled with his network of international friends should help to enhance multilateral cooperation with other countries with an aim to eliminate terrorism through diplomatic means.
The character, integrity and modest lifestyle of Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari will no doubt help in amplifying the effort of his principal at fighting corruption. He is a man with so much at stake. He has his name and legacy to protect. Nigerians will expect that he will allow his integrity to rub off on the seat of power. Much as he possesses all of these sterling qualities, he is human and will require our goodwill, prayers and support.
What Nigeria needs at this stage of her development are conscientious, innovative, honest and deliberate leaders, not leaders who aim to rev up their megalomaniac whims and caprices.
Professor Gambari has always been a major advocate of good governance in Africa, and Nigerians will expect that he will take advantage of this opportunity to help this government deliver same.
This decision by President Muhammadu Buhari is a master stroke. The reset mode may have been activated. Mr President has just refueled.
Oke, Executive Director, The Future Made in Nigeria Project, wrote from Abuja