Analysis | By Kyari’s former, how well is Gambari’s presidential gatekeeper job? The Informant247

Analysis | By Kyari’s former, how well is Gambari’s presidential gatekeeper job?

Remembering those days amidst a greater and even more intense controversy about the huge influence weirded by the late Mr. Abba Kyari, former Chief of Staff (CoS) to President Muhammadu Buhari, one couldn’t help but ask if like Kyari, Prof. Gambari, the incumbent presidential gatekeeper is holding the grip of power, at least, as much as his predecessor?

Question and comparison of this form alike aren’t just about the players involved, not of the deer and the antelope but only because Nigeria unlike any other country around the world has constitutionally arrogated so much influence to an office unknown to the constitution and blinded to the rule and laws of the land.

For Kyari, he understood the nitty-gritty of the game he was appointed to play. He even did above! As chief of staff, he was widely considered to be the face of the “cabal” and the most powerful person in the Buhari administration. During the administration’s first term, he worked mainly behind the scenes to implement the president’s agenda. In 2019 with Buhari’s re-election for a second term, he ordered his cabinet to channel all requests through Kyari’s office — further enhancing his influence within government circles, and being labelled as the de facto head of government.

In 2017, following a leaked memo, Kyari became embroiled in a public argument with the Head of Civil Service, who was later removed from office and arrested. In 2020, in another leaked memo, Babagana Monguno the National Security Adviser accused Kyari of meddling in matters of national security. These are pointers to how much influence he controlled as the presidential gatekeeper.

How the mighty have fallen, Mr. Kyari came on board like a wave in the night with the inner structure of the presidency on his fingertip. Though behind the curtain he may not have been the big masquerade, he might also have been wrongly judged by most Nigerians for creating tensions and ill systems around the Buhari administration. If not for anything other things, he will always be the reference point of a loyal subject.

Then came the appointment of Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, a diplomat and seasoned technocrat who served the United Nations under three Secretaries-General as UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa. Unlike Kyari, Prof. Gambari understands diplomacy and not the deep Nigeria politicking. His adorning career stood imperially atop the Everest not only as a diplomat but as a Professor of Political Science and Director-General of the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs, this among many.

Prof. Gambari has been consistently slammed for his alleged treacherous character with people with whom he has personal relationships in the past; another occurrence that is now a topic of history is his alleged role in the execution of Ken Saro Wiwa by the Abacha regime.

But at a very disturbing time for the country over the excesses of the CoS office becoming a sacred grove for sacred political marauders, the president couldn’t have found a perfect man to calm the fraying nerves of individuals who still fear the implication of inheriting a presidency enmeshed in power-play thus subversive of the constitution.

Over a year and half after the demise of Mr. Kyari, Prof. Gambari is still stringently controling the tightened access to the President – more to a need-to basis.

In fact, it takes a man like Prof. Gambari to recognize at the first instance that the central stage of power is overcrowded and that there is a need to ease the burden. He couldn’t be denied for the game he played with the immediate past inspector general of Police who could have spent past his service year as against the prescribed public service rules. Same for a federal Permanent Secretary who got her tenure extended with the backing of the former Head of Civil Service, Mrs. Winfred Oyo-Ita.

Also, giving the release of the former National Security Adviser Mr. Sambo Dasuki, and leader of the Shia sect in Nigeria, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky who had been kept behind bars for years despite courts granting him bail. Indeed with Prof. Gambari, the Nigerian state has signposted a new direction, shifting the censorious gaze away from any power centre, real or imaginary.

It’s evident that Prof. Gambari has inadvertently returned the office of the CoS to what it used – a mere gatekeeper with checked influence.

By the last chance perhaps, Gambari is writing his own history again. But the big question from the very first time his appointment was announced remains – are the ‘cabals’ that helped Kyari giving Gambari a breathing space?

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