Something like The Presidency being at war with itself in Nigeria appears to be playing out in the country. Close watchers of The Presidency in Nigeria are certain that the seat of power is locked in a war with itself over selection of a successor Chief of Staff to Mallam Abba Kyari who died last April. Prof Ibrahim Gambari, scholar and diplomat was all but announced yesterday as the one whom the cap fits.
The first sign of trouble came from how the news trickled out from his traditional ruler rather than Abuja. This was widened when Presidency press officers tried to mock the speculation, with the implication that whoever reported or believed such was on a fools ride. The dynamics have worked out in Nigeria in such a manner that even senior journalists think that only a formal announcement is the basis for believability in such matters. Of course, anyone peddling such a line might need to go read his or her news reporting codes again.
If media speculations coincide with what is finally and officially announced, that is great but it is not a low score for reporters and media houses if it doesn’t. People have gotten used to news as indexing that it is assumed that The Government House or The Presidency must make such an announcement before it makes news. No! This is more so in this case when Prof Gambari all but got the job in 2015 before he was not announced at last. So, if he fails to clinch it this time, then a case of history repeating itself can be claimed.
But, as things stand now, it would not be too surprising if someone else is officially announced although a source that could be considered to be a serious one was sure it would be Gambari at last. But Intervention is also learning that one other name could equally be announced because the name is still being mentioned across the circles up to just a few days ago.
Those who infer a vicious struggle for power might thus not be too far off the mark if at all they are off the mark. It would be more a case of what grammarians call ‘power struggle’. Whether this obvious struggle is what the state of the nation – the image of a physically exhausted president, the management of COVID-19 pandemic, the feared fiscal crisis of the state, the unending crisis in the educational sector, the insecurity challenges and the crisis of good governance – can afford is a different matter.
A sitting president in Nigeria has a million reasons why a particular candidate might be “the best of us” as far as the position of Chief of Staff is concerned in the current configuration of power. It is the president’s discretion but it is also the media and the public sphere’s obligation to speculate, analyse and dispense same about it.
The question has been what anyone who is finally appointed might be bringing to the table of power. The view in well informed circle is that Prof Ibrahim Gambari has a nose for balance and is unlikely to go down on the losing side. It is also said by absolutely disinterested persons that Gambari might cut deals to resolve problems, he is not cliquish but he is not a fighter. In fact, what Intervention understands is that “he won’t do terrible things”, will give government sanity and balance although he may not fight harm if harm is relentless. It is not in Gambari’s nature to upset the apple cart is a major conclusion.
Today, it is Gambari’s merits and demerits that are in focus. By tomorrow, it could be that of someone else. And that would be nothing new in politics!