Chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, has described his principal as someone who rewards loyalty and who does not ‘use and dump’ his subordinates like regular politicians in the country.
Gambari disclosed this yesterday while responding to eulogies poured on him by the leadership of the State House and his staff in a reception organised to mark his 78th birthday in the Presidential Villa.
The chief of staff recalled how he, as minister of foreign affairs, was ousted alongside Buhari, then military head of state, in the military coup of August 1985; and how he was appointed as the chief of staff by the same man after having won election for the second term as the nation’s president.
Gambari said: “When I came on board, I said my job is simple – to give loyalty, competence and support and that’s why even when Mr. President sees me and calls Chief of Staff, I say yes sir; but the emphasis is on ‘Staff’ not on ‘Chief’ because there is only one Chief and that’s the President and our duty is to support him loyally and competently.
“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 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 found 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’. I thanked him very much and I said can I have held this picture so that I can make a copy? He said no, I kept mine, go and find yours.”