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Gambari: Fulani Or Yoruba Man?

Buhari appoints Prof Gambari as Chief of Staff to replace Abba Kyari

President Muhammadu Buhari recently appointed Prof. Ibrahim ‘Agboola’ Gambari, former Foreign Affairs Minister during the Buhari/Idiagbon dictatorship of the early 80’s and career diplomat, as his Chief of Staff (CoS). Gambari replaced the late Mallam Abba Kyari who died weeks ago of Coronavirus complications. Ordinarily, Ambassador Gambari’s administrative pedigree is rich enough to warrant cheering his appointment as a good one; indeed he is experienced and competent with sound academic background. But we live in extra-ordinary times in Nigeria with Buharism muddling up everything.

However, it is worth pointing out early that Prof. Gambari is coming into the top job with a sordid anti-democratic past. To be sure, he was a military apologist, something incompatible with his exposure as a former Nigerian representative at the United Nations. He owes his diplomatic and political ascendancy more to the Fulani oligarchy.

A septuagenarian, Gambari, it would be recalled, stoutly defended the June 12, 1993 presidential poll’s criminal annulment by the Babangida/Abacha martial gang. The winner of that historic election, Bashorun Moshood Abiola, was ‘sacrificed’ for the Hausa/Fulani oligarchy to continue their reign of terror. He rose in stout defense of the mindless hanging of the renowned playright and environmentalist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, by the demented Abacha despotism.

Only time can tell whether Gambari as CoS to Buhari would perform better or worse than the late Abba Kyari. Again, we await time to elucidate for us whether President Buhari would consciously or unconsciously cede power again to Gambari as he did to the late Kyari. Between Kyari and Gambari, however, there could be no much difference in terms of work ethics and loyalty to Buhari and the cabal that facilitated his ‘resurrection’.

While a lot of criticisms and reputation-damaging ‘exposures’ had trailed Gambari’s appointment in recent times what matters most to us is not that he is a Fulani from Yoruba’s Ilorin. What is more important is the fact that Buhari is digging deeper and deeper into ethnicism and parochialism in his appointments.

Gambari was reportedly said to have sworn an oath testifying to his Fulani heritage and identity, so he is not Yoruba from any stretch of imagination — his middle name of Agboola nothwithstanding.

Ordinarily the Gambari appointment ought not to attract questions over his tribal identity or ethnic origin. A strategic appointment of this nature should ordinarily be done based on merit in any working country. But sadly Nigeria is not working! In a nation where the President is alleged to be working secretly on a ‘Fulanization’ and/or ‘Islamisation’ agenda then every nomination or appointment calls for supputations and insinuations.

Besides, in an embattled era of Buharism when majority of national appointments reflected ethnic, religious or regional bias then whatever anyone thinks about any hidden agenda could pass as truism.

Gambari had risen to national reckoning as a Fulani irredentist even though a Yoruba man of high repute had helped him rise to the diplomatic top. The new CoS is said to be good at betraying friends and benefactors and stabbing people in the back! Yet the new national responsibility he now occupies would afford him more than enough opportunity to show his true self — whether he remains the old betraying Gambari or a better mortal nearer to the end than the beginning.

The Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, was reported to have thanked President Buhari for appointing Gambari, a “Prince of the renowned Alimi dynasty”, as his Chief of Staff while extolling his virtues. Indeed, the former Nigeria’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations has an intimidating academic and professional profile.

Some intellectuals of Yoruba extraction have been bombarding us lately with fears about the man, Gambari, given his antecedents. They are dutifully reminding us of how Ilorin fell ingloriously to the Fulani hegemonic elements centuries ago. How a ‘stranger’ and sorcerer, Salih Janta alias Shehu Alimi, betrayed the then local king, Aare Afonja, killed him and all his children and took over his kingdom!

Of course history has it that Kwara state in general and Ilorin in particular had belonged to the Yoruba race. But once upon a time the late monarch who was rebelling against the Oyo Empire and the Alaafin of Oyo was murdered and overthrown bloodily by a Fulani traitor who had wanted to take over the land.

Fulanis are very good at herding cows, rustling same and stealing alien lands. That is why today they are scattered everywhere all over Africa — from Nigeria to Niger, Guinea to Burkina Faso etc. They harbour expansionist tendencies wherever they are or go.

Gambari should learn from the mistakes of the late Kyari by playing politics of inclusiveness and responsibility. Kyari was effective as CoS but his efficiency could not be appreciated by a good number of Nigerians because it was deadly, rapacious, anti-people and unpatriotic.

Already Gambari has started on a wrong note by informing us that he would be loyal to Buhari, his principal, and not to Nigerians! Here we go again. Such arrogant hubristic disposition towards Nigerians would go down as a ranting and rambling of a shameless sycophant perhaps intoxicated by his political rehabilitation.

It is our ardent hope that now that COVID-19 fatal fate that befell his controversial predecessor had catapulted him to power as it were the new Chief of Staff would learn, given his advanced age and much-vaunted ‘service’ to the nation, that character is measured more by showing gratitude to friends and benefactors who once helped one reach the pinnacle of any endeavour in life. And above all, by demonstrating unambiguous patriotism, compatriotic mien and unequivocal loyalty to the nation.

Author: Ozodinukwe Okenwa

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