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Ibrahim Gambari: Re-engineering the national treadmill

When the news filtered about the appointment of a new Chief of Staff by President Muhammadu Buhari  in the social media, it was received with…

When the news filtered about the appointment of a new Chief of Staff by President Muhammadu Buhari  in the social media, it was received with joy and happiness by most Nigerians especially academicians and diplomats because of your track-record.

According to some, this is one of the best appointments made by the President since his victory at the 2015 general elections. I pray for wisdom for you as you strategize towards this big task. This is because there will be so much pressure on you from all angles in order to please stakeholders whiles your main goal is “Repositioning of Nigeria.” Therefore, may the Lord Almighty make you to succeed in the growth and development in our dear fatherland.

Mr CoS sir, beyond the celebrations and excitement by friends and well wishers, Nigerians are expecting real positive change in your office as you are gatekeeper and the referee between Nigerians and the President. This is because Mr. President has made it very clear during the inauguration of the cabinet ministers last year that all communication and access regarding his appointments and activities should be tailored towards his CoS. Therefore you are the regulator as some powerful Nigerians will always bypass the CoS in getting approvals for either good or bad from Mr. President for their selfish interest.

Sir, you are No. 1 adviser to Mr. President on all matters and you are also the line manager for all the staff working with Mr. President in the state house. So based on your experienced as a diplomat and academician within and outside the country, you have a big task in your new office towards changing the impression of some Nigerians on what presidency is all about. People see the CoS as Prime Minister and/or de facto President because of the power that was attached to the office recently. But with someone like you, I know, you will prove them wrong on how the office is being run.

Sir, while you are settling down and receiving briefs, you need also to take comprehensive stocktaking and understanding of the issues and challenges in the various sectors of the economy now as we are in dilemma of COVID-19 pandemic. So it is important for you to advise Mr. President towards re-engineering and repositioning this country.

Today, ASUU is on strike because of lack of understanding between the two parties (ASUU and Government). As an academician and diplomat, you need to revisit these issues of strike by various unions. This means that you can put machinery on ground for proper consultation with various stakeholders (Public and Private Sectors, Unions, Associations (ASUU, NASU, SSANU, Association of Resident Doctors, NUT, NLC etc) for stocktaking and for understanding what the real issues are.

Mr. CoS, I know you are not a politician but from now on, from time to time, you need to meet with some political stakeholders for reconciliatory meetings as the battle for 2023 general election has already begun. Politicians will always put pressure on you for their own interest but Nigerian interest will always come first when it comes to you which we know.

Sir, as you know, education is the backbone of every society that succeed. And education sector is your constituency, so always treat this sector with passion. No country will succeed without good educational system. Please memo from this sector is very important towards the success of this country because education is also a key to improved skills, technology, knowledge acquisition, improved nutrition, reproductive health and economic empowerment. Therefore the aim of any government at all levels is to take education very serious matter so that its citizens will be inform and reduce illiteracy level among the populous, which in turns it will make great impact in reducing poverty.

Sir, your position as CoS can turnaround the education sector for better, by addressing the challenges of basic and secondary education, teachers training, professional development, technical and vocational education among others by treating all memos regarding the sector with keen interest. For example, Mr. President has recently approved the establishment of National Commission for Secondary Schools, this will go a long way in improving the standard of secondary schools in the country but government should know that secondary school is the platform as well as foundation where students are properly aligned themselves to what they intend to study in the tertiary institution. Therefore, this level is very important and requires proper attention.

You should also note that primary school level is the first and most important stage of learning for the younger populace. The importance of this stage is to ensure the broad-based development of pupils so as to develop their cognitive, social, emotional, cultural and physical skills to the best of their abilities, thus preparing them for the future.

Regarding governance, ministers in the federal cabinet should have equal right and role as they are representing their states as stipulated in the Nigerian constitution. Therefore, no more further conflict between ministers of state and their senior counterpart as we have seen recently in some ministries.

So also, your advice will also be very important in the implementation of the White Paper of Steve Oronsaye report towards rationalisation of ministries, agencies and parastatals in order to reduce the cost of governance in the face of plummeting revenue occasioned by the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant effect on global oil price volatility.

You should advise Mr. President to look beyond partisan, ethnicity, religion in his future appointments. This will go a long in providing effective and administrative leadership in government. For example, during the last dispensation, some cabinet members and heads of some agencies were of low capacity in overseeing the affairs of their respective offices. Like the practice in the federal ministries of health and justice, only a person of their profession should be appointed as the minister and this to some extent will help and Mr President should also consider this aspect while appointing some heads of MDAs in the future.

The office of Mr President should have more technical advisers. These technical advisers will help the President in discharging his duties. For example, all memos from MDAs to the President can be studied by the advisers and this will further reduce the time for the delay in the office of the President before his final perusal. Mr. President can expand the appointment of the Technical Advisers in the critical sector of the economy and priority areas for effective result.

May the Almighty Allah guide you in discharging your duty and may He also protect you from bad advisers.

Prof. Idris is Dean, Faculty of Environmental Science, Nasarawa State University, Keffi. Email: [email protected]

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