“Emotions have no place in diplomacy. ”It is the stuff of the cunning and the amoral and even the intensely intellectual. The timid don’t get involved in diplomacy. ‘When they do, their countries suffer”. – Late Dele Giwa
A raison d’être for running this column is to promote the feelings of empathy in the younger generation of Nigerians who very much wish to succeed in their various professions and vocations. There is probably nobody who has passed through this world who never had someone as a role model; or at least an individual whose acts and ways of like appeal to the one coming behind. A role model is described by the Cambridge dictionary as ‘’a person who someone admires and whose behaviour they try to copy’’ Those who move societies, occupy places in history. It is for this reason that the world remembers till today the salient contributions of figures like Lee Kwan Yew, Winston Churchill, Surhato, Pandhit Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere and several other notable people, that have contributed significantly to efforts at shaping the future of their nations.
THEY RECORDED SUCCESSES RELATIVELY EARLY IN LIFE:
The 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln is still remembered today as a great leader who did a lot to end slavery. Highly regarded British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill is on record as stating that: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.’’ Helmuth Johannes Ludwig Graf von Moltke, also known as Moltke the Younger, a German General of distinction and his group, moved Germany to a level, upon which Adolf Hitler constructed; Napoleon Bonaparte, Charles de Gaulle, and others, paid the price for France; Elizabeth 1, Oliver Cromwell and their group, paid dearly for England. The list is endless. It also includes George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Martin Luther King, who paid the price for the development of the United States. Lew Kuan Yew of Singapore became his country’s prime minister at the prime age of 35 years when Singapore was a hopeless case. It had no mineral resources at independence and no potable water.
The water consumed by its population of three million people was, and, is still imported from neighbouring Malaysia. Yet, Singapore has been transformed into a First World economy within four decades, through committed and dedicated leadership. Additionally, the transformation of Singapore has inspired the leadership of nations like Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, South-Korea and the Peoples Republic of China to also grow their economies in unimaginable proportions. It is a monumental feat that Singapore does not produce crude oil but effectively manages one of the largest crude oil refineries in the world. The country’s seaports are among the best and most sophisticated in the world, while its airport shows its high level of technological advancement. Singapore is highly rated in the area of technological advancements, particularly information technology. Thus, a leader must be able to drive policies, programmes and plans for the overall benefit of the society. One common feature of those who have changed the faces of their societies is the fact that they performed ‘’miracles’’ in their early or middle ages.
Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari is from the lineage of the popular GAMBARI family of Ilorin. By virtue of birth and history, Gambari is a prince of Ilorin and is eminently qualified to aspire to become the Emir of Ilorin at a future date, if that is the wish of God. Born in 1944, Gambari attended elitist Kings College, Lagos, before proceeding to the London School of Economics, where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in political science with a specialty in international relations. He obtained his M.A. in 1970, and his Ph.D. in 1974 in Political Science/International Relations from Columbia University in New York.
•Began his teaching career in 1969 at City University of New York before working at University of Albany.
•Taught at Ahmadu Bello University, in Zaria From 1986 to 1989
•Was Visiting Professor at three universities in Washington, D.C.: Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Georgetown University, and Howard University.
•Has been a research fellow at the Brookings Institution also in Washington D.C. and a Resident Scholar at the Bellagio Study and Conference Center, the Rockefeller Foundation-run center in Italy.
•Served as Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs; 1983-1985
•Was Nigeria’s Minister for External Affairs between 1984 and 1985 under the then military Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari
•Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations from 1990-1999
•Served as a senior member of the Nigerian Delegation to 10 Sessions of the UN General Assembly at a row, as Delegate to 44th to 54th UNGA Sessions in New-York
•Served at the 2014 National Conference and functioned on the committee on restructuring and promotion of national unity in Nigeria.
AS NIGERIA’S EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER — ADOPTED THE THEORY OF CONCENTRIC CIRCLES
‘’One of his key contributions to our understanding of Nigeria’s foreign policy is the theory of concentric circles, which he developed. It’s an approach that places the interests of Nigeria first. The centre of the circles has Nigeria’s security, territorial integrity, and political independence. The second circle embraces the West African region with the ECOWAS countries, and the third circle is Africa, while the final one is the rest of the world. No wonder Dele Giwa once opined, “Emotions have no place in diplomacy. It is the stuff of the cunning and the amoral and even the intensely intellectual. The timid don’t get involved in diplomacy. When they do, their countries suffer”. The game of diplomacy is for the initiated, the hard, and the cunning. The game of diplomacy is played for the broke. You don’t mess around with morality. You strike out for national interest first, even if that means that your neighbour will not get food on his table. You sit down and plan your strategy and take your risk. You win, if you plan well. You lose, if you are a fool. He will often say; one thousand friends are not enough but one enemy is one too many’’ (Moses Ohaegbuchi – Gambari’s Special Assistant)
INTERNATIONAL LEVEL: Easily the biggest and most visible appointment came in 1999 through late Kofi Annan, who appointed Ibrahim Gambari into the sensitive and much-coveted position of Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Africa (1999-2005) An Under-Secretary-General is only two steps away from the UN Secretary-General with the Deputy Secretary-General in between.
•In that capacity, he worked closely with heads of government, key policymakers as well as institutions in the continent to develop the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). During this period, he was concurrently the Resident Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission to Angola (2002-2003).
•He has been a delegate to the Assembly of the African Union as a national delegate (1984-1985) and as a member of the UN Secretary-General’s delegation (2000-2012).
•Chairman of the United Nations Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, 1990 – 1999
•President of the Executive Board of UNICEF- 1999
•Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations & First Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Africa
•Chaired the UN Special Committee against Apartheid, which successfully saw the demise of apartheid and the establishment of democratic rule in South Africa.
•Held numerous UN positions including, Chairman of UN Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations and as the UNSG’s Under-Secretary-General and Special Advisor on Africa.
•Gambari was President of the UN Security Council on two occasions when Nigeria was a member of the Security Council.
•Led several United Nations Missions, including the Special Committee Against Apartheid Mission to Burundi, Rwanda, and Mozambique.
Chaired the UN Special Committee on Peace-Keeping Operations from 1990-1999.
•Served as Member, Board of Trustees of the United Nations Institute of Training and Research (UNITAR) from 1993 to 1999
•Was Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission to Angola, from September 2002 to February 2003.
•Appointed by United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon as his Special Adviser on the International Compact with Iraq and Other Issues in 2007.
•Appointed Member of Independent Eminent Experts on the Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action in 2018.
SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS IBRAHIM A. GAMBARI OF NIGERIA AS NEW UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: The statement announcing Gambari’s appointment as Under-Secretary-General issued by the UN Department of Public Information Public Affairs on June 10, 2005 indicated that Gambari ‘’emerged the new Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, succeeding Kieran Prendergast, effective 1 July 2005. He served until the end of the Secretary-General’s term. In that capacity, his functions include promoting UN and international support for African development, in general, and the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD).
HONOURS: In recognition of a distinguished career as a scholar-diplomat, the University of Bridgeport (USA) awarded Mr. Gambari the Doctor of Humane Letters degree (honoris causa – 2002); the prestigious Johns Hopkins University elected him to membership of the University’s Society of Scholars (2002); and the Government of Nigeria awarded him the national honour, Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR).
OTHER INTERNATIONAL ENGAGEMENTS
•Was Commonwealth’s Special Envoy to mediate in talks between President Edgar Lungu’s ruling Patriotic Front and opposition parties as part of a Commonwealth initiative.
•Was the Joint Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Chairperson of the African Union Commission/Head of the UN and AU Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) from January 2010 to July 2012. During Ambassador Gambari’s tenure, UNAMID was the world’s largest international peacekeeping mission.
•At the global level, Ambassador Gambari was Under-Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Department of Political Affairs (2005-2007).
•Operated as UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Cyprus, Zimbabwe and Myanmar.
•Co-chaired with former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance. Gambari and Albright wrote the foreword to two publications: Without bold, effective, and inclusive global governance that also safeguards fundamental human rights, the hard-fought gains of earlier generations may be lost and the extraordinary potential of future generations jeopardized.” — Foreword to Confronting the Crisis of Global Governance (2015) “The international institutions built since 1945 to help nations manage and resolve their problems peacefully—and together—are being weakened to a degree not seen since their founding. Yet dealing with global issues calls for policies and actions beyond the writ or capabilities of any one state.” — Foreword to An Innovation Agenda for UN 75 (2019), Madeleine K. Albright and Ibrahim A. Gambari.
AS SCHOLAR & FOUNDER, THE SAVANNAH CENTER, ABUJA
•Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari founded the Savannah Center, a think-tank for research, training, and public policy debate on the nexus between diplomacy (conflict resolution), and democracy and development in Africa.
•As a scholar, Ambassador Gambari is the author of several books and scholarly articles.
•He began his teaching career as a Lecturer at the Queen’s College, City University of New York (1969-1974),
•Was an Assistant Professorship at the State University of New York (1974-1977).
•Was appointed Senior Lecturer at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, (1977-1980), and rose to become an Associate Professor (Reader), (1980-1983) and subsequently full Professor at the same University, 1983.
•Was a visiting Professor at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of the Johns Hopkins University, Georgetown University and Howard University in Washington, D.C. from 1986 to 1989.
•Was also a Research Fellow at the Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C., as well as a Resident Scholar with the Rockefeller Foundation Centre in Bellagio, Italy.
•He is a recipient of the third highest national honours in Nigeria – Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFR)
•Awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters (honoris causa) from the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut (2002) and Farleigh Dickinson University, New Jersey (2006).
• Honorary Doctorate of Public Service, Chatham University (May 2008)
•Honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt), University of Ibadan, Nigeria (November 2011).
•Special Recognition for International Development and Diplomacy Award conferred by the Africa-America Institute (September 2007),
•The Distinguished (Foreign) Service Award by the Federal Government of Nigeria (April 2008),
•The International House Harry Edmonds Award for Lifetime Achievement, New York (May 2009)
•The Campaign Against Genocide Medal by the Republic of Rwanda (July 2010)
•Received South Africa’s highest national honour conferred on non-citizens, the Order of the Companions of O. R. Tambo, which was conferred to him personally by President Jacob Zuma on 26 October 2012.
•Elected to the Johns Hopkins University Society of Scholars in 2002
•Has since 2005 served as a member of the International Advisory Board of the Institute of Peace, Leadership and Governance at Africa University, Zimbabwe.
•Current Pro-Chancellor & Chairman of Council, Bayero University, Kano.
CHOLARLY CONTRIBUTIONS: GAMBARI WARNED OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF TERRORISM 15 YEARS AGO
During his active UN days, Gambari delivered several papers and informed commentaries on global affairs. In one of the papers, Ibrahim Gambari is quoted as asserting that: ‘’There is a sad paradox that Africa is perhaps the richest continent in terms of natural and mineral resources but contains the world’s poorest peoples. Thirty-four out of fifty Least Developed Countries in the World are in Africa. And if present trends continue, the continent is the least likely to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) especially the first one, i.e., halving those who live in extreme poverty (less than one dollar a day) by the year 2015.
These facts point to Africa as a continent that is very susceptible to harbouring terrorists and facilitating their activities and unable to effectively combat terrorism. The continent has a disproportionate share of failed states, weak institutions, poverty, wars and conflicts, incomplete peace consolidation efforts, porous borders, and youth unemployment etc. In order to deal with these issues, Africans need to develop a greater sense of common purpose, common destiny and common agenda, an agenda that is capable of addressing generalized insecurity and eliminating loopholes and weak points in its security systems.
HELP AFRICA TO COMBAT CONFLICTS PLEADED FOR CLOSER COOPERATION – GAMBARI
As UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Gambari was strategically located within the UN system to be able to evaluate political developments and project into the future. Closer cooperation with African nations and multi-dimensional support from the Western partners for capacity building, technology transfer and additional resources are crucial if the continent is to increase its ongoing role and efforts against world terrorism. This would also be in the self-interest of the West. As General Charles Wald, Deputy Commander for the European Command (EUCOM), USAF, said recently at Washington Foreign Press Centre Roundtable on “New initiatives with African Countries,” “terrorist training in the Sahel (in Africa) can be in the United States or Europe in a matter of hours”. He suggested greater need for global powers’ partnership with Africa, the United Nations, G-8 countries, the European Union and the international community to play important roles to combat terrorism. ‘’Such partnerships would cover many areas, including addressing the root causes of conflict in Africa and enhancing the capacity of African states to engage effectively in conflict management and resolution while building durable peace and security systems. ‘’In this Government invited 16 eligible countries, of which 8 are African, to submit proposals for aid from the Millennium Challenge Account, is a step in the right direction.
CONCERNS — SEPTEMBER 11 TERROR — GLOBAL NORTH & THE SOUTH MUST COOPERATE
One of the key lessons of September 11 for the West is that the security of the North can no longer be separate from the security of the South. On their part, the Africans realize that when terrorists attacked the US Embassies in Nairobi and Kenya, more Africans were killed than the Americans who were the targets and this has implications for the future. This, therefore, re-enforces the collective desire to find global solutions to global problems. He noted, regrettably, at the book presentation ceremony of Alhaji Shehu Malami that by 2050,’’ Nigeria would become the third most populous country in the world, adding that it would not be remembered by its huge population or the size of the economy but by what the country stands for as its core values. He further underscored the need for the proposed core values to be worn like clothes, so as to make everybody to be committed to these values. He also stressed the need for Nigeria to commit to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, particularly the goal 16 which talks about inclusiveness and social justice.
EXPOSE ENEMIES OF NIGERIA
. Professor Gambari stated that: “It is the height of their ascendancy of hate speech, exclusion as well as ethnic and religious fanatics wearing the drab of the politicians and the leaders. “Whether religious or circular, one is forced to ask the question; where did our road turn? At what point did we begin to allow negative, unpatriotic tendencies to define us?” Who are the perpetrators and the beneficiaries of our journey on this road to nowhere? We must identify, expose and challenge them. “Furthermore, how do we utilize and reorder our states in national integration, cohesion, security, growth or developments. These are some of the profound, thought-provoking questions that the book attempted to provide answers. “On those foregoing background, I wish to add that no dispassionate observer of the Nigeria social, political and economic scene would ever doubt that the country is really at a crossroad, for which we must quickly arrive at a consensus on a national, sustainable, enjoyable pathway to redeem it. “It is on this basis and in this context that the present calls for restructuring are made’’ According to the archives, leadership is really the key to the success of the Nigerian project which he described as a quest for a prosperous and united Nigeria and the achievement of national unity. Gambari disclosed how former Head of State, late General Sani Abacha, released £3.2 million to fund South African’s national party, the African National Congress, ANC, in the post-apartheid era. Gambari, who was the book reviewer, revealed that the late General Abacha released the funds to ANC, following a request by the South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, philanthropist and former President, Nelson Mandela.
IN POLITICS WITHOUT BEING A POLITICIAN
Prof. Gambari is one of the few Nigerian elite who believe that mistakes of the past must not be repeated in all settings where there is the semblance of order, especially the rule of law. He joined forces with influential Nigerians to work tirelessly before and after the last two Presidential elections in Nigeria in order to ensure that the country remains intact and peaceful. Whoever has the type of exposure that Gambari has would know that when bad practice is continued over a period of time, it becomes the norm. And the general notion is that everybody is doing it, or behaving in like manner after all. But what is not right must not be considered right under any circumstance. There are people whose gears are in neutral. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo acknowledged this fact at an occasion where he teasingly remarked that: “There is this particular attribute of being in politics without being a politician. ‘’I would like to be like Professor (Ibrahim) Gambari when I grow up. I would like to be like that. You know aside from lawyers, I think there is no group of people who are maligned like politicians’’
A Guardian Newspaper edition of February 2016 ran a commentary by Prof. Said Adejumobi, in which he commended Nigeria and all those who have contributed to the immense successes of the Foreign/External Affairs Ministry. The paper recommended ‘’resetting Nigeria’s foreign policy, an informed articulation through an inclusive but robust intellectual dialogue of experts, practitioners, policy makers and political leaders is imperative to redefine strategy and tactics in promoting Nigeria’s foreign policy priorities. Bolaji Akinyemi’s tenure as foreign affairs minister was one of the most colourful moments of Nigeria’s foreign policy, just like Joseph Garba’s tenure as a military foreign affairs minister was the most dynamic and pragramatic in the history of the country. In both cases, clear ideas, strategies, focus and political will underpinned Nigeria’s foreign policy derived from strong intellectual basis and articulation. Nigeria needs to reclaim its voice and power in regional and global arena in the political, economic and social spheres. It is not about wasting resources or undertaking propaganda through branding in international cable news media, but strategically defining its core interests, the mechanisms and processes of pursuing them and how to galvanise both West Africa and the continent to new possibilities of political and economic transformation. Creating clear and strategic vision at home is a sine qua non to establishing strong regional presence on the continent. Nigeria’s domestic policies will have to complement its foreign policy agenda. With one out of every four black African being a Nigerian, Nigeria by virtue of its population, human capital, size and resources, has a manifest destiny to play a major role in the economic and political transformation of the continent. The vehicle for doing so is her foreign policy’’