Now that Gambari is on the saddle
No recent appointment into President Muhammadu Buhari’s kitchen cabinet had drawn so much suspense. First, were the unconfirmed reports that struggled for attention on most media platforms. Then, the quietness that enveloped the political space when the announcement failed to come as widely speculated.
In last Wednesday’s virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, President Muhammadu Buhari finally unveiled Prof. Ibrahim Gambari as his new Chief of Staff, CoS. This put an end to the wild guesses over who would replace the late Mallam Abba Kyari who died of COVID-19 complications on April,17.
Gambari’s stroll into the presidency met with a couple of unfriendly shots. The former Nigeria’s United Nations Permanent Representative (1990-1999) had been a long-standing associate of Buhari, having served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs during the military dictatorship of 1983-1985.
Many were, therefore, quick to remind him of his early days romance with dictators and infamous comments on the brutal murder of the late Niger Delta activist, Ken Saro Wiwa.
Gambari dropped a bombshell almost immediately after. While speaking to journalists, he literarily waved bye to the rest of the populace while trying to pledge his allegiance to the president.
“We have not started, I’ll have to find out. I don’t report directly to the nation, I report to the President,” he affirmed. Gambari’s enthusiasm is well understood but it does empower critics with sufficient ammunition to hit at his loyalty to the larger national interest.
Will Gambari be blinded by the eagerness to impress his employer to the detriment of Nigerians? The answers may be as evasive as holding on to air. What is clear, however, is that the expectations are high given the many controversies that trailed the late Kyari.
Indeed, Gambari will be advised to thread carefully as he fits into the shoes of his predecessor who is widely held to have arrogated so much power to himself. So bad it was that Buhari’s immediate family, led by his wife, Aisha, openly branded some members of the kitchen cabinet as cabals.
Again, will Gambari be able to extricate himself from an entrenched system that seems to have alienated the First Lady and made her scream so loudly about being marginalized?
Can anyone forget so soon how Aisha Buhari alleged in December 2019 that the so-called cabal had hijacked her husband’s government? She had pointedly accused the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, of allowing himself to be used by the then CoS, Kyari, to launch a media war against the President’s family by ‘sponsoring’ defamatory attacks against her and her children.
Watchers of Nigeria’s political space are eager to see how this internationally-acclaimed diplomat will be able to rebuild confidence in a kitchen cabinet that is in disarray and seems to be working across purposes.
The days ahead certainly put Gambari on the chopping board as Nigerians weigh in on his resumption blues and the task of managing a President who is largely perceived as slow to decision-making.
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Promises, and more promises!
The president, as he is wont to do, made more promises last week! One of his frontline campaign promises was to ensure security of lives and property. There is no denying that Buhari is obviously under monumental pressure to keep this promise as the issue of insecurity swiftly gives one the jumps once it is mentioned.
This time, the promise reiterated his resolve to spare no resource in ending the sorrows Nigerians are passing through in the wake of high insecurity concerns. The National Security Adviser, NSA, Major-General Babagana Monguno (RTD), disclosed this while briefing State House Correspondents at the end of the National Security Council meeting presided by the President himself.
“Arising from this meeting, I will like to assure all Nigerians that Mr. President is fully on board, he is committed to doing whatever is necessary to reduce the spate of violence and insecurity in the country,” Monguno stated.
The President gets no special commendation for reaffirming his decision to end the pangs of insecurity in the country. As the Commander-in-Chief, such is expected of him. However, he must realize that he is beginning to sound like a broken record. Nigerians, from all indications, have grown tired and bored of all the rhetorics. Hence, the time for him to decorate his words with action is now.
He needs not be reminded that the January launch of a regional security outfit, Amotekun, by Southwest governors was an excellent demonstration of loss of faith in his ability to ensure security in the region. Even more so is the fact that other regional blocs have since joined the clamour for regional security in spite of opposition at the presidency.
Though calls for the sack of the service chiefs have subsided, Nigerians eagerly await a more strategic and efficient response to the insecurity bedlam that has gripped the country. It behooves the President to rise to the occasion.
Where is Buhari’s face mask?
The president has been seen severally strutting the corridors of power without a face mask. This ordinarily would not have mattered but for the highly publicized advice by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 on the use of face masks.
The poser then on the lips of many is why the father of the nation has openly ignored this key part of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, guidelines for the containment of the dreaded coronavirus.
The controversial Personal Assistant to the President on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, attempted an excuse last week. Addressing the concerns via her twitter handle, @Laurestar, she said: “PRES @MBuhari IS NOT BREAKING RULES! Expert Medical Protocol is that if you are in your safe environment, you don’t need to wear a mask. Those visiting you must wear masks to ensure they leave no droplets in your environment. Wearing of masks is mostly to protect people around us.”
Many critics think Onochie’s defence is flimsy and watery, and believe she could have done better. Could there be more cogent reasons for defying this all important protocol for which some sub-nationals have even threatened sanctions against citizens? The answers may be far fetched for as long as the President and his handlers believe that his health status should not be subject of public scrutiny.
The clamour for Mr President to lead from the front can never be overemphasized. And, the battle to contain the Coronavirus must be seen as one in which he is on top of his game. To lead by example is the least Nigerians expect of their president.
Why does the PTF, during their daily briefings on COVID-19, have their podium boldly inscribed with ‘wear a mask’, if one may ask?
Author: John Chukwu…