Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari’s entry into Nigeria’s presidency came the same way a good substitute enters the pitch in a football tournament. Apart from becoming the second Prof in the Villa, his also marks the second change of baton in the seat of power, Nigeria’s Presidency, as he succeeds Mallam Abba Kyari as President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff.
Exactly three years ago, the President was forced by circumstances, particularly national outrage against Engineer David Babachir Lawal, to replace him, albeit reluctantly, with Mr. Boss Gidahyelda Mustapha.
Before his coming as CoS, most Nigerians had blamed Prof. Gambari’s predecessor for navigating the Presidency towards insouciance and nepotism, particularly against the backdrop of President Buhari’s decision to delegate the entire presidential responsibilities to the office of CoS.
It is perhaps against the background of public perception of the failings and triumphs, if there is any; of the immediate past occupant of the otherwise invisible office of the Chief of Staff that Prof. Gambari’s appointment has elicited much public concern and commentary.
In the midst of the general interest and conversations trailing Prof. Gambari’s appointment, comparisons and contrasts are unwittingly being made between his qualifications, experience and national outlook and those of the former occupant.
Perhaps the most evident difference is that, unlike Abba Kyari, Ibrahim Gambari is not fixated on any mode of apparel, just as his interventions in the media and public exchanges could be easily located. He is self-effacing, but outspoken.
Like his predecessor however, the new CoS has a plethora of academic qualifications from foreign institutions of learning, even though the incumbent garnished his with teaching at the City University of New York in United States of America (US) and Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Nigeria.
Unlike Kyari, who gathered experience in the private sectors, particularly banking; Gambari could be described as an establishment man, having served the Federal Government in various administrations within the diplomatic circles.
For the fact that President Buhari had impressed it on Ministers, Heads of Department and Agencies that correspondences and application for audience with him should be routed through the CoS, in Prof. Gambari, the MDAs would find a kindred spirit and colleague.
Gambari served as Minister of External Affairs, prior to his appointment as Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United Nations and later, as the country’s permanent representative at the world body.