PROFESSOR IBRAHIM AGBOOLA IBRAHIM: HIS APPOINTMENT IN FULLEST OF TIME
APPOINTMENT DESERVED AND TIMELY
The appointment of Professor Ibrahim Agboloa Gambari, CFR, OCORT as the 5th Chief of Staff (COS) in the current dispensation by President Muhammadu Buhari is deserved, earned, timely and commendable. The bipartisan, national and global appreciation of this singular appointment shows that the scholar-diplomat is eminently qualified to assist President Buhari in Nigeria’s stride for Nation- Building.
Post humous praise trailed the death of the late Chief of Staff. The exit of Mallam Abba Kyari definitely left a big vacuum at the Presidency. We congratulate President Muhamadu Buhari for the wise choice of Professor Ibrahim A. Gambari to continue the good work of the late COS and improve on his legacy.
As the Head of the Presidential aides and principal coordinator of the policy vision of the President, Professor Gambari brings to the Presidency impressive triple heritage of scholarship, statesmanship/ diplomacy and civil society/ private experiences spanning decades. The relevance of the timeliness of Professor Ibrahim Gambari’s impeccable credentials cannot be over emphasized. The achievements of President Muhamadu Buhari in the critical three point agenda of Security, Anti- corruption and the repositioning the economy have been well documented.
COVID: 19 AND THE NEW NORMAL
But the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome known as coronavirus in Wuhan, China December last year, has created new challenges for both lives and livelihoods in Nigeria and world wide. With confirmed 5000 cases that include frontline health workers and as many as 164 deaths, COVID: 19 is a major challenge in Nigeria to life expectancy of 53 years which is bellow African average of 65 years.
Professor Gambari is expected to upscale the good work of the Presidential Task Force in coordinating and overseeing Nigeria’s multi-sectoral inter-governmental efforts to contain the spreading the disease with active 4000 infected persons in the country.
The appointment of the -diplomat, statesman and non-state activist is in the fullest of time of the second term of President Buhari. Professor Gambari was the former United Nations Under-Secretary General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Africa (1999-2005), former Chairman of the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid (1990-1994) and on Peace-Keeping Operations (1990—1999) and Head of the United Nations Department of Political Affairs (2005-2007) and UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Cyprus, Zimbabwe and Myanmar and Special Representative in Angola. Undoubtedly he is better positioned to mobilize important material and policy resources to contain the pandemic which has claimed almost 300,000 lives in the world.
COVID 19: MATTER OF LIVE AND DEATH
There must be all inclusive massive and sustained awareness of citizens . COVID 19 is a matter of life and death as President Buhari had repeatedly admonished in his national broadcasts. Professor Gambari, Founder/Chairman of the Board of Directors of Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development, a non-governmental think-tank on research, policy studies, brings his wealth of experience in advocacy and training on the prevention of Virus for which there is no vaccine yet.
Citizens must be made to own the narratives on protocols and guidelines with respect to personal and work place hygiene, physical and social distancing and gradual easing of movements. It’s time the National Orientation Agency ( NOA) complements the efforts of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) through grassroots advocacy in partnership with the states, civil societies, political parties and faith based organizations.
THE ECONOMIC CHALLENGE
COVID: 19 had triggered unprecedented economic challenges necessitating an urgent review of 2020 budget of 10.52 trillion naira, lower than 10.59 trillion naira approved in December by President Muhammadu Buhari. It’s commendable that the CBN under Godwin Emefiele has initiated series of measures that could turn the current “tragedy into opportunities” for Nigeria ‘s development. Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed and Labour Minister Chris Igige had also commendably announced recovery plans to stimulate the economy and create jobs in all local governments.
The challenge is to work towards a new economic paradigm that must stress inclusion, diversification, productivity equity, mass Decent jobs, smart work poverty eradication and self reliance in the wake of total break down of he global supply chains.
Nigeria must produce what it consumes starting with health and well care services and Personal Protective Equipments (PPE) . There is no doubt that the new Chief of Staff will help the President to consolidate various commendable stimulus plans with harmonized monetary and fiscal policies.
RE-INDUSTRIALIZATION: AJAOKUTA STEEL PLANT
On the whole the way to go is re- Industrialization of the economy. It is gratifying that President Buhari is committed to industrialization in a diversified economy. The recent inauguration of the “Ajaokuta Presidential Project and Implementation Team” (APPIT) is a welcome development reinvent iron and steel sector.
The Industrial Global Union and sector Unions of iron and steel and engineering workers will partner with President Buhari administration in reviving the Ajaokuta Steel plant which has been idle for about four decades. Revamping the Ajaokuta Steel Plant, “clearly presents a unique opportunity to make us West Africa’s largest fully integrated steel producer and most importantly accelerate our industrialization especially in steel related industries”.
NEED FOR PUBLIC SUPPORT
Given the enormous challenges before the administration, the public must give the necessary support to the new Chief of Staff in order for him to hit the ground running in making an urgent difference. It’s time for partnership between the government and private sector in the task of nation building. Acrimony and suspicion among stakeholders must give way to constructive engagement and cooperation to protect lives and ensure sustainable livelihoods in the country as well as Recovery of the economy from the negative impact of Corona Virus on the economy. In a diverse country, transparency and consultation will remove doubts and inspire creative suggestions that would help President Buhari to ensure peace and stability, being necessary condition for growth and development.
A a Labour Delegate to 2014 National Conference, I bear witness that Professor Ibrahim Agboloa Gambari, CFR was among the Eminent Elders who set the guidelines for consensus building which led to the success of that historic confab. Despite diverse legitimate differences, the Confab built unprecedented National Solidarity and CONSENSUS for National Development on critical issues as Industry, trade and investment, labour, religion, energy, political restructuring, devolution of power and Foreign policy among others without rancor and without acrimonious votes counting.
Comrade ISSA AREMU, is the VICE PRESIDENT IndustriALL Global Union and Member of National Institute, Kuru Jos