Cabinet members honour Abba Kyari, Akinjide, others
A new Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, was Wednesday unveiled to the public shortly before the commencement of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Gambari was presented at the FEC meeting, which was held via videoconference, by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha.
The Federal Executive Council also observed a minute silence in honour of its deceased members including the immediate past Chief of Staff Mr Abba Kyari, former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Chief Richard Akinjide, former Minister of Health Mr Halilu Alhassan and former Minister of State for Public Health during the Second Republic, Mr Paul Wampana.
The new Chief of Staff arrived Presidential Villa at 10:40am and was received by the Permanent Secretary, Mr Tijani Umar; Director of Protocol, Mr Yakubu Ahmed; and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, among others.
Government officials who attended the virtual FEC meeting with the president were the National Security Adviser, Mr Babagana Mungonu; Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed; Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi; Minister of Power, Mr Saleh Mamman; and the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, while other ministers and top aides participated from their respective offices.
Fielding questions from State House correspondents at the end of the virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, Gambari said what the president needs from him at this critical period is competence, loyalty and support.
He thanked the president for the appointment and confidence reposed in him.
“I want to thank the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for giving me this opportunity to serve him and of the country,” he said.
On what Nigerians should expect from him in his new role, he said: “I have not started, so I will find out and maybe…I don’t report directly to the nation, I report directly to the president.”
On what the president should expect from him as his new Chief of Staff, said: “I think he needs my loyalty, competence and support.”
Asked what would be his guiding principle as Chief of Staff, he said: “To serve the president to the best of my ability.”
Professor Gambari, a scholar-diplomat, is the Founder/Chairman of the Board of Directors of Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development, a non-governmental think-tank on research, policy studies, advocacy and training on the nexus between conflict prevention and resolution, democratisation and development in Africa.
He has had an illustrious career spanning academia, government and international diplomacy, culminating with his appointment as the first United Nations Under-Secretary General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Africa (1999-2005). He was the Chairman of the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid (1990-1994) and on Peace-Keeping Operations (1990—1999). He was Head of the United Nations Department of Political Affairs (2005-2007) and also operated as UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Cyprus, Zimbabwe and Myanmar and Special Representative in Angola.
Earlier, he was Minister of External Affairs (1984-1985) and subsequently Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations (1990-1999). Professor Gambari also served as Joint AU/UN Special Representative in Darfur and Head of UNAMID (2010-2012). He is currently a Chairperson of the Panel of Eminent Persons of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).
Professor Gambari attended the Provincial (now Government) Secondary School, Ilorin before proceeding to the Floreat Collegium Kings College, Lagos. He received his BSc (Econs) degree from the London School of Economics (1968) and his MA and PhD in Political Science/International Relations (1970, 1974) from Columbia University, USA. He has taught at universities in the Unites States, Nigeria and Singapore and has to his credit the authorship of a number of books.
He has received several academic and national honours, including the “Commander of Federal Republic of Nigeria” (CFR), and the “Order of the Champion of the Oliver R. Tambo” (OCORT) of South Africa. He is the Pioneer Chancellor of the Kwara State University (KWASU), Ilorin, Nigeria, as well as the current Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of Bayero University, Kano (BUK). He is a married with children and grandchildren.