Aso Rock Blessed with Another Professor of Repute
Recently, Professor Ibrahim Gambari was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari to manage the affairs of the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Nigeria. Prof. Gambari’s appointment comes with many years of service in government and bedrock in academic responsibilities, including a plethora of accolades. The President has made a far-sighted decision and must be exalted. Occupying the Office of the Chief of Staff means that Prof. Gambari is responsible for the management of the Presidential Villa and information flow. What then does it mean to have this role?
No one in his or her right mind may argue that Prof. Gambari is not qualified for this position even if one believes that there are others in the nation with parallel qualifications. The point is that the person selected is exceptionally well-qualified. The position demands a person of talent, skills, and substantiated judgment and discretion. The professor retains all the attributes backed with intellect, cognitive capacities, and a patriotic spirit.
Therefore, Nigeria expects more from a patriotic man who has, since 38 years of old, been chosen by his country. I insist that he should be the “primus inter pares” of his peers in government because he has once described himself as “a professor, not an ambassador.” However, he had also occupied outstanding ambassadorial posts. He has experience in security and peacekeeping set-ups in Africa. He will bring this unique background to the Villa.
As the President’s point man in overseeing the affairs of the nation, Gambari is positioned to bring security matters that face the country today to the forefront of the President’s desk. The plight of the Nigerian youths being boarded up and exiled to their respective states of origin is frightening. It is equally disturbing that young people are placed in lorries and transported to other regions in Nigeria to fend for themselves.
The Chief of Staff to the President, with all his knowledge, and the Bourdesian symbolic capital, must ensure that the children are treated with respect and dignity, and not used to attain political agendas.
How can any government tolerate such inhumane treatment of their children? How does society believe and insist that these innocent children will survive with such horrific programs and nefarious policies in their respective states? The Chief of Staff to the President, with all his knowledge, and the Bourdesian symbolic capital, must ensure that the children are treated with respect and dignity, and not used to attain political agendas.
In my village, parents must raise their children to be better than them in a reciprocated maxim. It is not enough to bring children into a Spenserian nation (survival of the fittest) such as Nigeria and let them get extinguished without support from their families and their governments. Parents must also have some responsibilities in the management and upbringing of their children. Assuredly, the government has the responsibility to pave the grounds, but as they say, “Charity begins at home.” The family is an essential agency of social control and the well-being of the young. This is where the respected professor comes into the matter in this tricky position that he has accepted. His position is difficult because of the different groups that he will encounter in the control of the president’s attention to the interests of lobbying factions.
State governments receiving monthly federal largesse must be mandated to institute, not camouflage, programs (in the spheres of agriculture, education, vocational education, security, and health) and policies that will benefit the people.
Responsible for what gets to the president, the economic team of the president—headed by Professor Yemi Osinbayo, the vice-president—must articulate policies and programs for the benefit of poor Nigerian families. State governments receiving monthly federal largesse must be mandated to institute, not camouflage, programs (in the spheres of agriculture, education, vocational education, security, and health) and policies that will benefit the people. If these state governments were to fail to establish such programs, they would risk losing federal funding.
Nigerians themselves must have the unrestricted right to protest in nonviolent ways against poor governance. Such unlimited freedom will encourage Aso Rock to use its security tools against corrupt practices with the mandate of the people. The federal government serves the people; it is accountable to the Nigerian people, not its political allies.
Moreover, our children must be mandated to learn and obtain the skills and talents necessary to survive. All they need is a little enhancement and nudging—skills in subsistence farming, carpentry, bricklaying, barbing, electrical, and many others are all necessary to earn a living. Individuals need help in their respective areas of abilities and talents, including higher education. While the administration has done well in budgetary and anti-corruption policies articulated on its website,
Prof. Gambari can surround himself with adept staff to advise him on policy priorities and issues that go before the President. One such idea may include the fact that Nigerians cannot endure any more government officials who believe that the state money is their money. Monies allocated to state and local governments shall be utilized for projects and programs that benefit the people. There must be accountability and transparency not only on paper and websites but also in practical terms. Now, go and bribe Prof. Ibrahim Gambari. As a teacher, he does not need ten exotic cars and ten charming houses and “fat” bank accounts outside Nigeria.
■ Dr. Onwudiwe, a Professor of Criminology at the Texas Southern University is a columnist with the WAP