"WR6_gUnUj-ztiW07KQcOCnTel9A"/> Notes From Atlanta: Real Reason the Buhari Cabal Picked Gambari as CoS

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Real Reason the Buhari Cabal Picked Gambari as CoS

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

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 dunce 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, but not always, 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.

 Related Articles:

Ibrahim Agboola Gambari: A Presidential Babysitter Who Won’t be as Powerful as Abba Kyari

Ilorin is an Ethnogenesis: Response to Kawu’s Anti-Saraki Ilorin Purism (I)

Ilorin is an Ethnogenesis: Response to Kawu’s Anti-Saraki Ilorin Purism (II)

“Mesu jamba,” a Slur against Ilorin People, is a Linguistic Fraud

“Mesu Jamba,” the Question of Etymological Fallacy, and Other Reactions

Fulani and Origin of the Names “Yoruba” and “Yamuri”

37 comments:

Unknown said...

👍

Penreports said...

👌

Benjamin said...

Always a delight to read you. For me who aspires to write, what kind of books would you I read to horn my writing skills?

Adolphus Connects said...

A wonderful write! I think we'll soon see the unseen forces that drive the activities at Aso Rock more clearer.
I look forward to your next column.

Unknown said...

Reading your piece is always an interesting intellectual exercise.

gadsense. said...

Always on point prof. Please I have an appeal, I only got to know about you of recent precisely this year. I have tried navigating through the various sections of your blog and I haven't found any link to your previous columns . I would be very much interested to tap from your repository of wisdom and thoughts.

Unknown said...

Always well researched

Olubusola said...

Brilliant write-up as usual.

Unknown said...

Frankenstein refers to the Doctor rather than the monster.

Unknown said...

I always love reading your post. This is so aesthetically written. But I have a question, Prof. The fact that the new CoS is not fluent in Hausa and the President hardly communicates in English, will that not cause a problem?

Wamuldu Dadwa George said...

I really appreciate your well researched unbiased take on issues of national interest.

Wamuldu Dadwa George said...

I really appreciate your honest well researched approach to matters of National interest, l find them very unbiased and expository

ubaleyaro said...

Eventhough I know you are against the Buhari administration,truth be told you can't get a better,unbiased analysis than this.Very concise.

Ahmed Abdulrahman said...

Exactly Prof. And I have not seen anyone either apart from the President himself in this Administration formation that can dare rub him being his qualifications, age, positions held both national and international levels which are stunning and intimidating, when even most of them in the cabinet now are in school struggling when Gambari bagged his Ph.D in 1974. As you can even witnessed from Gambari's first media response in State House, where I saw SGF Boss Mustapha whom is position is far ahead of CoS constitutionally, following/lobbying Gambari in the back like a aide. We will see how the drama unfold.

Abdullahi Taiye Hassan said...

I hail you and admire ur knowledge may God bless you for enlighten us

Ibrahim D M said...

As expected. Always detailed, but characterized with extreme hatred on the President. Respect the Office not necessarily the person occupying the seat.

BISIKAY said...

Brilliant analysis, Prof...

Konxept said...

I patiently wait to read your take on any national issue,you are such a brilliant mind.

Unknown said...

This is good and understandable

Unknown said...

Exquisite, and absolutely lucid analysis of the conundrums.

Unknown said...

Good one sir

Nura Gambo said...

What an excellent, interesting and intellectual piece.

Nura Gambo said...

What an intellectual piece again. Respect sir.

Unknown said...

You are absolutely brilliant sir.
Thanks for the piece.
BLESSINGS!!!

Unknown said...

Dr Kperogi is always a delight when it comes to well-researched writeup.I learnt something interesting from this piece.

Unknown said...

Nice article as usual

Felix said...

Classic approach with identifiable everyday facts.

Dole said...

A great read at all times

Unknown said...

Without God on your side how can you achive the knowledge, don't be afraid nigeria need you most, so come out,

Wisdom Samuel said...

Brilliant

Unknown said...

Keep up with the revelations

Unknown said...

Very apt and obvious

Mr. Sloop-Jumpy said...

While am not familiar with Prof. Kperogi, am impressed with his incisive writeup. My only grouse which bothered on disappointment is his use of some vocabulary or words which brilliant and intellectual speakers and writers need not use. ie. apoplectic and asinine
Which to me depicts superiority complex. You've already been acknowledged as prolific writer by many, so why do you want to send me on an errand of looking for a dictionary before understanding some of your sentence which simple words would have given better clarity or clarification. What are you trying to prove .
I was a member of a Government delegation to a Plenipotentiary
Conference on "The Carriage of Goods by Sea" in Hamburg, Germany -1978. What I observer was that while our senior members were using heavy grammars to make their points, all of the astute white delegates were more coherent and simplistic in their submissions. And the English language is theirs. I will like to be your follower, but PLEASE relent in the use of verbose grammars as it affects the flow of your articulated presentation.

Mr. Sloop-Jumpy said...

While am not familiar with Prof. Kperogi, am impressed with his incisive writeup. My only grouse which bothered on disappointment is his use of some vocabulary or words which brilliant and intellectual speakers and writers need not use. ie. apoplectic and asinine
Which to me depicts superiority complex. You've already been acknowledged as prolific writer by many, so why do you want to send me on an errand of looking for a dictionary before understanding some of your sentence which simple words would have given better clarity or clarification. What are you trying to prove .
I was a member of a Government delegation to a Plenipotentiary
Conference on "The Carriage of Goods by Sea" in Hamburg, Germany -1978. What I observer was that while our senior members were using heavy grammars to make their points, all of the astute white delegates were more coherent and simplistic in their submissions. And the English language is theirs. I will like to be your follower, but PLEASE relent in the use of verbose grammars as it affects the flow of your articulated presentation.

Bisi said...

Feel to read this writer. Wow!

Dabiri said...

👌

Porgee said...

Always detailed on point. Gladings my heart always to read your masterpiece.