By Chukwudi Nweje
President Bola Tinubu’s choice of Femi Gbajabiamila as chief of staff (CoS is to forestall a repeat of Nigeria’s experiences during the first term of former president Muhammadu Buhari, when the late Abba Kyari was CoS, Daily Sun has gathered.
A source in the Presidency told Daily Sun that President Tinubu “was keenly aware of the intricate terrain of Nigerian politics, particularly after Kyari’s influential tenure” in the position.
He said: “Tinubu known for his decisiveness and thorough consideration of key appointments was seeking a chief of staff with a specific set of qualities, experience and a proven track record were non-negotiable criteria. He had no intentions of entering the presidency with a chief of staff who was still learning the ropes of how to support a president in running a nation.”
The source said the choice of Gbajabiamila, the immediate past speaker of the House of Representatives from 2019 to 2023 and other principal officers of the administration, as well as cabinet was based on a meticulous process to select individuals who possessed a unique blend of qualities to navigate the complexities of Nigerian politics successfully.
He further said: “Tinubu closely observed the performance of Gbajabiamila during his tenure as speaker of the House of Representatives, and Gbajabiamila’s experience in managing various national challenges, including handling national strikes and negotiating with unions, made him stand out among contenders for the role.
“None of the other contenders came close to the level of nation-building experience that Gbajabiamila had acquired during his time as the No. 4 man in the country. This commitment to competence and experience showcased his determination to hit the ground running and effectively lead Nigeria.
“The conversations regarding the chief of staff appointment reportedly gained momentum after the removal of the fuel subsidy, a move that initially stirred concerns about national stability, and the president’s resolve to find a perfect fit became more urgent as he needed someone that is both loyal and is also able to support the president in maintaining calm and peace during this challenging time.”
The source added that two other factors that influenced the choice of Gbajabiamila were hard work and ability to use government resources to support the people.
He said: “Gbajabiamila was always with the president during the campaign, many times travelling late at nights putting in a lot of hard work during what was a dicey campaign.
“President Tinubu was impressed by the timing of the Students Loan Bill which he signed to the applause of many in the country because of the wide appeal for the legislation by many Nigerians. The signing of that bill orchestrated by Gbajabiamila gave huge political capital to the president.
“The meticulous process behind President Tinubu’s chief of staff selection underscores his commitment to delivering effective leadership to Nigeria. His vision for a strong, competent, and experienced chief of staff reflects his determination to navigate the complex political terrain and address the nation’s pressing challenges.”
The source described Tinubu as a visionary leader, who recognises the significance of the chief of staff role in his administration, adding that Gbajabiamila and other principal officers of the administration, as well as the ministers were chosen based on a meticulous consideration of their “unique blend of qualities to navigate the complexities of Nigerian politics successfully.”
He described Tinubu as a forward thinker, who was not swayed by how long someone has been around him but rather focused on capacity, posture, and competence when selecting his chief of staff.
He noted that Tinubu had decided on the choice of people out of his several associates that would make his cabinet before he declared his intention to contest for the office of president.
“President Tinubu had articulated his vision for the ideal chief of staff before publicly declaring his interest to run. He was determined to select an individual who possessed a unique blend of qualities to navigate the complexities of Nigerian politics successfully.
“President Tinubu’s knack for selecting capable individuals for key positions is widely praised. His history of successful appointments, from vice president to governors, ministers, legislative leaders among other highlights his deep understanding of Nigeria’s political landscape,” he said.