Journalism of Courage

Prof. Gambari at 78, lauds Pres. Buhari for rewarding 35-year-old service, loyalty

…. State House staff take turns to extol President’s Chief of State

The Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, on Thursday commemorated a milestone of 78 years with a commendation to his boss, President Muhammadu Buhari for rewarding service and loyalty.

He said Buhari is averse to using and dumping people who had served him loyally either in public service or private life.

Gambari spoke at a reception held in his honour at the Presidential Villa, Abuja to mark his 78th birthday amid encomiums poured on him by State House staff.

Recalling how Buhari’s military administration under which he served as the Minister of External Affairs was overthrown in a bloodless coup of August 1985, Gambari said the president when he came back as elected leader did not hesitate to appoint him as Chief of Staff to reward past services and loyalty about 35 years later.

“When I was offered this job by the President, he brought out a picture that was taken in June 1985. It was at the OAU Summit. The then Head of State (Buhari) was sitting in the middle, and his then Chief Press Secretary, Wada Maida, to his right.

“And he said: ‘do you remember this picture? I said ‘No sir, but I remember the occasion’. He said well, you were my Foreign Minister, we were kicked out of government in 1985, 35 years later, I find the opportunity to bring you back.

“He said we were interrupted then and I am bringing you back now to let you continue where we stopped and I thanked him very much and I said can I have hold this picture so that I can make a copy? He said no, I kept mine, go and find yours,’’ Gambari said.

He added: “When I came on board, I said my job is simple — to give loyalty, competence and support and that is why even when Mr. President sees me and calls me Chief of Staff, I say Yes sir. But the emphasis is on ‘Staff’ not on ‘Chief’ because there is only one Chief and that is the President and our duty is to support him loyally and competently.

“There are three reasons why I put that picture in front of my office. First, to return to the important point of departure, to show the kind of person our President Buhari is.

“He doesn’t forget those who have worked with him, who have served him loyally and in whom he has confidence. Some other people use and dump, but not him.”

The staff one after the other extolled Gambari with the Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr Ade Ipaye, describing him as a renowned diplomat with a large heart who has kept the Presidency intact.

Mr Femi Adesina, the President’s adviser on Media and Publicity, said Gambari did not allow office to define him unlike others.

He said:“The Chief of Staff already had value before coming here, and was not coming to get value. He is now adding value to the Presidency. We have worked seamlessly together since your arrival here, and I appreciate that.

“I remember how, when you assumed office and at our first meeting, you simply asked me to see you as a senior uncle. You look good at 78.’’

For the Permanent Secretary in the Presidency, Mr Tijani Umar, Gambari has kept faith with his promise to ensure a united Presidency including the Vice-President’s office without any crisis.

“The Chief of Staff is a teacher and mentor, who has been quite approachable and responsive to concerns of the staff of the State House.’’

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