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It was sometimes in Fall Semester 1988, my sophomore year at Howard University, Washington, DC. I was running late for a change of class amidst the cheers and admirations from students owing from the outstanding performance of Howard University’s Soccer Team that year.
We were quite popular on campus. While riding on that euphoria, I suddenly noticed a tall, dark figure walking in my direction, donning a complete Agbada which we did not see that often around Georgia Avenue, NW in Washington DC. My gut instinct told me that this individual must be a Nigerian. His tall and intimidating presence had the better part of me so I was frozen momentarily.
I summoned the courage, turned around, gave him some distance but trailed him like a detective trying to know the abode of a suspect. Suddenly, he turned around and with a soft tone, he said, “yes, how may I help you?” I looked squarely into his eyes and asked, “Hope you don’t mind Sir, are you a Nigerian? He said, “Yes”. I exhaled and immediately followed up with the next question, “were you a one-time minister for External Affairs?” He also answered in the affirmative. I then asked, “What are you doing here, Sir? With a big smirk on his face, he said, “I lecturer here”. I later found out he was a Professor of Political Science at the School of Liberal Arts.
Not quite long after that he left Howard University and joined the United Nations (UN). Upon my graduation in 1992, I visited him in New York City and the reception was very warm and cordial. Professor Gambari asked if I was interested in joining him at the UN. Needless to say, the lure and attraction of Investment Banking in Wall Street was just too much for me to see anything good in the diplomatic mission. Lately, I pay occasional visits to his NGO, Savannah Center for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development (SCDDD) in Abuja. Savanah Center has been instrumental in promoting global peace and development through policy analysis and strategic partnerships.
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Leading up to the 2015 General Election, Professor Gambari’s NGO brought clarity to the blurred line between Hate and Free Speech. His massive public enlightenment campaign under the mantra “Hate Speech Is Not Free Speech” did a lot to educate the public. Professor Gambari is a master in the art of negotiation and dialogue. As far as he is concerned, every area of disagreement between parties has a diplomatic solution once the door for dialogue is open.
Besides diplomacy, Professor Gambari is poised to add tremendous value to the Presidency, especially in the area of organizational structure and efficiency. The fact that he is no stranger to the international community is an added asset to the country when dealing with the Brenton Wood Institutes of the world that regulate global credit facilities. His presence is sure to impact our credit ratings since there will be more confidence from our creditors.
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The butterfly effect cascades all through to improvement of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Furthermore, his enormous experience at the world stage is sure to usher in transparency and credibility to Buhari’s administration, moving forward. Mr. President has gotten it right with Professor Gambari. He is a game changer, if given a free hand to do his job.
A Business Consultant and Retired Footballer. He writes from Lagos (08030446066, Mondayekanu@gmail.com)
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