Ibrahim Gambari: The Trails Of Treachery By Remi Oyeyemi

“Treacherous people do not last, only memories of their treason last.”
    – Amit Abraham, the founding Deputy Vice Chancellor at the Mount Zion International University of Rwanda, Kigali, Rwanda.

In 1984, when Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi was first nominated as the Minister of External Affairs by General Ibrahim Babangida who was then the Chief of Army Staff under the regime of Muhammadu Buhari, General Tunde Idiagbon, who was Second-In-Command as Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, and was from Kwara State had also nominated Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, a fellow Kwaran, for the same position.

Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi would be coming off as the Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) in 1983. For whatever reasons, Prof. Gambari did not like the competition and the competitor. He went to works. He manufactured fatuous tall tales to malign the person and character of Prof. Akinyemi. He lied against him unabashedly. His fictitious stories were so powerful that Prof. Akinyemi was subjected to very serious interrogations and he was almost clamped into the gulag. 

Prof. Gambari was successful in his campaign of calumny against Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi. He, Gambari, was eventually appointed by Mohammadu Buhari as Minister of External Affairs in 1984. He was in that office until 1985 when Buhari was overthrown by General Ibrahim Babangida for his tyranny as Head of State. Babangida finally replaced Prof. Gambari with Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi in that position. Prof. Akinyemi was there from 1985 to 1987 when he was succeeded by General Ike Nwachukwu. 

That was not Prof. Gambari’s first venomous act as a snake. And it was not his last. As I write this, three incumbent Ministers in the cabinet of Mohammed Buhari are trying to contain their disgust about his appointment. Two of them are Northerners and one of them, Southwesterner. They are all previous victims of perfidious venoms of Ibrahim Gambari, the man who goes about using a middle name, “Agboola”, to suck in unsuspecting victims of Yorùbá stock as their fellow traveler before devouring them.

Prof. Ishaya Audu was the Minister of External Affairs under President Shehu Shagari, 1979 – 1983. How much he knew Prof. Gambari in 1981 was the basis on which he had warned Ambassador Oladapo Fafowora to beware of his new protégé “Agboolá” Gambari. Amb. Fafowora at that time, was holding fort as Deputy Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations, in New York.

For those who have read Amb. Fafowora’s comments on Prof. Gambari which had gone viral, what Amb. Fafowora did not disclose in those comments are legion. They are too personal and private and should be left out for the sake of Prof. Gambari’s wife. The point is that Prof. Gambari has compiled a resume of treachery against several of his benefactors, friends, colleagues and mere acquaintances who might have come within his range.

Amb. Fafowora who himself has an intimidating resume, had been impressed with the accomplishments of a young lecturer who needed help. As a distinguished man of excellence himself and a product of Oxford as well as University of London, Amb. Fafowora was attracted to the brilliance of Prof. Gambari. I expected that to be natural for and to all brilliant minds unconsumed and uncontaminated with morbid ambition and subversive selfishness and egoism. 

But unfortunately, for Amb. Fafowora and many of his ilk whose paths have crossed that of Prof. Gambari,  his kind-hearted act towards the new Chief of Staff to President Buhari was what led to his early retirement from the service where he had for several decades, put in excellent and unblemished service. It is this kind of snakish and rankish acts of ingratitude propelled by unmitigatable ego and ambition that have robbed many innocent others of help that they might have received.

I met Prof. Gambari in New York in 1996. He was the Nigerian Ambassador to the United Nations. We met for the first time in the evening of the day I had gone to testify at the Kansas’ Senator Nancy Kassenbaum’s inspired Senate Hearings on General Sani Abacha regime asking for sanctions. During our meeting, it was obvious what his mission was. But we could not click for obvious reasons. He was defending the Abacha Regime and I was against Abacha Regime on the account of which I had escaped Nigeria, a week after the murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa.

Since, I had watched Prof. Gambari from distance. He, like Abba Kyari, is a very brilliant mind. But his brilliance have been more often deployed to dastardly acts. What is the use of a brilliance deployed to inflict misery on others? What is the value of the brilliance deployed to the destruction of others? What is the use of a brilliance only handy for the subversion of others? What is the race of life about that it would inform one’s brilliance not to help others, but to destroy them?

His public statements, to me, are the definitions of his character and philosophy. His education have not rubbed off on him. Prof. Gambari and his immediate predecessor as the Chief of Staff to President Buhari have shown that going to great and famous schools are not determinants of great character. Living a life of subterfuge and subversion of others evidently are flagships of their characters. Prof. Gambari is dirty and dingy. It is unfortunate that his kind of character is the type who get to lead in this contraption called Nigeria.

He defended Abacha Regime very truculently. He made it clear in his utterances and statements that he was anti – people. He, without remorse and for his own selfish ends, edified tyranny and the destruction of democracy. This obviously was easier for him as a Fulani hegemonist. As a scion of a feudalist institution already percolating as rulers over another man’s land that doesn’t belong to them in whatever fashion, his acts of treacheries are not out of character. 

To someone like Prof. Gambari, fairness has no meaning. Justice is an anathema. Balance is a pariah. Equity is an enemy. Gratitude is an abomination, because they feel entitled even to things that are not theirs. For Prof. Gambari whose forefathers betrayed Afonja and took over Ìlorin by murdering him and members of his household, being grateful is a taboo. They are emotional, economic, political and intellectual predators. 

Prof. Gambari, like Salih Janta, also known as Shehu Alimi, his ancestor who murdered the Yorùbá owners of Ìlorin, uses subtlety, intricate relationship to gain your trust and put in the dagger when you’re not expecting. The Gambaris of this world are the reasons for the aphorismic sobriquet “Ìlorin mèsú jàmbá.” Literally, it means “Ìlorin, the treacherous.” Though, this is often trivialised as jokes and used as banters nowadays, it is not a compliment by any means.

The beauty of History is that it is a wonderful guide for future events. Every treachery in History always had expiry dates. The Ìlorin treachery would expire at the appropriate time. It would not be the first and it won’t be the last. No matter how long it lasts, it would expire. No amount of instruments of power of the Nigeria State would suffice. In fact, Nigeria itself is on the fast pace down the drain and it might not even subsist by the time History comes.

As the new Chief of Staff to the President, millions like me have no expectations from Ibrahim Gambari. He is a perfect choice for a regime of hegemonic zealots. Himself, a Yoru – phobic fanatic, a scion of feudalism and heir of serfdom, he had once said that Nigerians needed not democracy but food. It could be inferred that the pseudo democracy in operation under this Buhari’s Presidency would suffer more. And hopefully, now that he is back in government, we wait to see how he makes food available to Nigerians.

For those who would be dealing with him in this dispensation, it is important that they stay alert and tread very carefully. With smiles that do not go beyond the lips, any of them could be sucked into their political demise. It was Emily Thorne, a fictional character and the main protagonist of the ABC television series “Revenge” that once insisted, “For the innocent, the past may hold a reward, but for the treacherous it’s only a matter of time before the past delivers what they truly deserve.” Over and over, time has proved her right.

©Remi Oyeyemi.

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