Real reasons the Buhari cabal picked Gambari as Chief of Staff

Few appointments have generated as much excitement— and entranced the imagination of Nigerians— as the appointment of Ibrahim Agboola Gambari as Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff.

The Emir of Ilorin thanked Buhari for it even though there is no record of him publicly thanking Olusegun Obasanjo when Abdullahi Mohammed, another Ilorin son, was appointed Obasanjo’s Chief of Staff in 1999—and reappointed by Umar Musa Yar’adua in 2007.

The Northern Governors’ Forum also congratulated Gambari on his appointment even though they had never congratulated two previous northerners who had occupied the position.

And then you have mostly Yoruba irredentists who are intensely apoplectic about Gambari’s appointment for both legitimate and utterly asinine reasons.

The office of the Chief of Staff to the president, an ordinarily unremarkable secretarial job in the presidency, is attracting this quantum of outsized attention because of what it became when Abba Kyari held it.

As I noted in my May 13, 2020 social media update titled “Ibrahim Agboola Gambari: A Presidential Babysitter Who Won’t be as Powerful as Abba Kyari,” “The only reason the position of CoS to the President has become uncharacteristically visible in the last five years is that Buhari is both too cognitively incapacitated and too splendidly incompetent to function as president, so he needs a proxy or, as I pointed out in my April 22 status update, ‘a babysitter, a political and intellectual babysitter.’

“As a military dictator, Tunde Idiagbon was Buhari’s political babysitter from 1983 to 1985. The late Salihijo Ahmad’s Afri-Projects Consortium (APC), was ‘the sole manager of the PTF projects,’ according to Ray Ekpu’s June 5, 2018 article titled, ‘Petroleum Trust Fraud.’ In other words, Buhari couldn’t even manage a government agency as small as the PTF without needing babysitting. Of course, most people know that since 2015 until his death, Abba Kyari was Buhari’s proxy.

“Mamman Daura, on whom Buhari is intellectually and emotionally dependent, ‘created’ Abba Kyari for Buhari but Kyari later grew into a Frankenstein that almost devoured his ‘creator.’ Daura wants no repeat of that and sees a potentially dutiful factotum in Gambari who was Buhari’s external affairs minister from 1984 to 1985.”

In other words, Gambari was appointed CoS precisely because the intellectual and political powerhouse behind the Buhari regime chose to return the office to its previous lusterless, clerical drudgery. The Buhari cabal initially proposed a northern Christian as a replacement for Kyari to ensure that the position is stripped of the atypical influence Kyari brought to it—and to bring a little dash of token diversity to the Presidential Villa.

They later chickened out and settled for Gambari because, although he is a brilliant, globally connected scholar-administrator, he is also notoriously malleable, manipulatable, and usable. (Anyone who can defend Abacha’s tyranny and deride Ken Saro-Wiwa and his comrades as “common criminals” in the aftermath of their horrendous judicial slaughter can do and defend anything.)

Most importantly, although he self-identifies as the descendant of a Sokoto Fulani man who migrated to Ilorin in the early 1800s, he is too culturally removed from members of the Aso Rock cabal to be an insider.

In Nigeria—and elsewhere—identity is performed mostly through language. Gambari doesn’t speak Hausa. When he appeared in the Presidential Villa on Wednesday, for instance, Buhari’s protocol officers welcomed him in Hausa, but he responded to them in English.

When the Presidential Villa correspondent of an international Hausa broadcasting station asked to get a soundbite from him in Hausa, he said he wasn’t proficient enough in the language to give one. This isn’t surprising for people who have studied his biography.

Gambari spent his formative years in Ilorin and Lagos where he was exposed to only Yoruba and English. When he came to Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria as a senior lecturer in 1977, he was already in his 30s by which time the window of opportunity to learn a new language had closed for him. So he will always be an outsider on the inside.

This is particularly significant because Buhari has difficulty forming deep informal interpersonal relationships with people who don’t speak Hausa. In my October 21, 2017 column titled, “World Bank, Buhari, and Presidential Subnationalism,” I referenced this trait of socio-linguistic insularity in Buhari.

I wrote: “Buhari’s interpersonal discomfort with, and perhaps contempt for, Nigerians who are different from him—often expressed through awkward snubs and linguistic exclusivism—go way back. On page 512 of Ambassador Olusola Sanu’s 2016 autobiography titled Audacity on the Bound: A Diplomatic Odyssey, for instance, we encounter this trait:

‘I was asked by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs… to accompany Major-General Buhari on a trip to West Germany when he was Petroleum Minister in 1978,’ he wrote. ‘During the flight, to and fro, [he] did not say a word to me even when we sat side by side in the first-class compartment of the plane. When we got to Germany and went to the Nigerian Ambassador’s residence, [he] spoke entirely in Hausa throughout with the Ambassador-in-post. He did not speak to me throughout the trip. I was deeply hurt and disappointed.’”

As far as Buhari and his handlers are concerned, Gambari is only a little more culturally familiar than Sanu because of his Muslim faith. The fact that they settled for him to lend a veneer of “diversity” to the face of the presidency is all the proof you need to know that they don’t regard him as one of them.

In other words, people who are congratulating Gambari because they think he’d be another Abba Kyari who would overstep the bounds of his office and represent Nigeria abroad to negotiate deals, invite the INEC chairman to his office and tell him how to conduct elections, remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria and replace him with a man that is amenable to his wiles, determine who gets a government appointment and who is excluded, etc. would be disappointed.

And Yoruba irredentists who are imputing motives to, and delegitimizing, his middle name because they think he’d be another Abba Kyari should have their hackles down. He doesn’t bear Agboola because he needs the validation of Yoruba people in the southwest. He bears it because there is no Ilorin person who doesn’t bear a Yoruba name.

In a two-part column I wrote in August 2018 titled, “Ilorin is an Ethnogenesis: Response to Kawu’s Anti-Saraki Ilorin Purism,” I said, “I know of no Ilorin person, whatever his or her ancestral provenance, who does not have a Yoruba given name.”

The current emir of Ilorin, who is the son of Ibrahim Gambari’s older brother, was known as Kolapo throughout his professional career. He only became “Ibrahim” after his ascendancy to the Ilorin emirship. Although Tunde Idiagbon traced patrilineal descent from Fulani ancestors, he never identified with his Muslim given name, Abdulbaki, throughout his life. In fact, he gave all his children Yoruba names: Adekunle, Babatunde, Ronke, Mope, and Bola.

Contrary to what Gambari’s Yoruba critics allege, Yoruba names are the authentic appellative identities of Ilorin people. Their Muslim—and sometimes Fulani—first names are often opportunistic appellative appendages to court the acceptance of political power wielders from the far north.

I have lost count of the number of times my Ilorin friends’ parents unintentionally disowned their children when I went to look for them in their homes using their Muslim names as their only identifiers. They recognized their children only when a younger relative who understood the people I was describing identified them by their Yoruba given names.

What both the cheerleaders and critics of Gambari are missing is that he was appointed to his position because the people who “own” the Buhari regime have decided to return the position to its former unremarkable, pre-Abba Kyari state. Let Gambari be.

 

 

 

YOU SHOULD NOT MISS THESE HEADLINES FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

Buy and read digital replicas of your TRIBUNE titles by subscribing through E-VENDING

 

COVID-19: We Don’t Know Whereabouts Of Chinese Doctors ― PTF • Don’t ask me where they are ― Health Minister
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, on Thursday, said that it is not aware of the whereabouts of the Chinese doctors and health professionals who were brought to Nigeria some weeks ago to help the country in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic… Read full story

Amid Uproar, Lagos Backtracks, Says Dubai Returnee Didn’t Die Of COVID-19
Lagos State government on Thursday night retracted its earlier claim that one of the returnees from Dubai, died of COVID-19. Other returnees, quarantined at an isolation centre in Lekki, had protested in a viral video clip, disproving the earlier official position… Read full story

No Conclusion Yet On ‘Strange’ Deaths In Kano
The Federal Government says there are no conclusions yet with regard to ‘strange’ deaths in Kano State. The Minister for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19… Read full story

FG To Present Revised 2020 Budget Next Week •As Reps uncover documents on illegal virement of MDAs funds to finance COVID-19
Barring last minutes changes, the Federal Government (FG) is expected to formally present the revised 2020 Appropriation bill of N10.58 trillion to the National Assembly. The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, who disclosed this during high-level meeting held behind closed… Read full story

COVID-19: PTF Warns Against Using Bleach, Ethanol As Cure
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, on Thursday, warned Nigerians against the use of bleach or ethanol as cure for COVID-19, saying that its usage can result in death. Besides, the PTF also cautioned Nigerians to stop the stigmatisation of people with COVID-19 infection once they recover from it… Read full story

COVID-19 Care Now Available For All Who Need It ― PTF
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday assured that Nigeria’s testing strategy is yielding results, asserting that the country can now give care to any patient who needs it. Chairman of the task force and Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha… Read full story

Buhari Makes Plans For Post-COVID-19 Nigeria
The presidency on Thursday outlined its plans to move the country forward after it exits the present COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting actions in the areas of the economy, healthcare, jobs creation, among others. A statement issued by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity) in Abuja noted… Read full story

Nigeria Didn’t Ask For Madagascar COVID Solution, The Country Sent Them To Us, Says PTF
The Presidential Task Force of the control of the COVID-19 pandemic has disowned the Madagascar Covid organic solution, which had been reported to have been requested by the Federal Government to fight the virus. Chairman of the task force and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss… Read full story

Why Canada Denies Air Peace Right To Evacuate Stranded Nigerians–Onyeama
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama’s move to patronise local carriers for the evacuation of Nigerians abroad has suffered a setback. The Canadian government had denied a local airline, Air Peace, landing right to evacuate Nigerian citizens in Ottawa on the ground that it has no license to… Read full story

COVID-19: Pandemic Offers Chance To Reset Critical Sectors ― Osinbajo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has observed that even though the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected lives and livelihoods of Nigerians in different ways, it, however, offers an opportunity for the Nigerian people and government to have a reset in critical sectors of the economy and social services… Read full story

13-Year-Old Girl, 23 Other Ladies Used For Prostitution Rescued In Lagos Hotel
The police in Lagos State have rescued 24 ladies including a 13-year-old who were trafficked to Lagos from Akwa Ibom State for prostitution. Four members of the syndicate that brought the girls, most of them from Oron in Akwa Ibom State, have also been arrested… Read full story

Shocking Story Of Man Who Found Out That His Twins Babies Have Two Fathers
A Chinese man is left stunned after finding out that his twin babies have two fathers, the Daily Mail of UK reported on Thursday. The man, who remains unidentified, made the shocking discovery after taking the new babies for a DNA test as part of the standard procedure to register their births in China, a DNA… Read full story

We Deregulated Downstream Oil Sector In March — Sylva
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva says the downstream oil sector was deregulated on March 19, with the reduction in the pump price of the Premium Motor Spirit(PMS) also known as petrol. Sylva made the clarification at a ministerial briefing giving a scorecard of the… Read full story

EDITORIAL: Governments And The COVID-19 Billions
SINCE the Covid-19 global pandemic touched down in Nigeria in late February, there have been concerted efforts by the private and public sectors to mobilise resources to contain its spread. As early as March 26, the Coalition Against Covid-19 (CACOVID) emerged to mobilise private sector leadership… Read full story

You might also like
Comments

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. AcceptRead More