How Obasanjo lost Chance to become UN Secretary-General – Gambari

Former Chief of Staff and diplomat, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari recently shared an insightful narrative regarding ex-President Obasanjo's bid for the position of Secretary-General of the UN in 1991.
 Prof. Ibrahim Gambari
Prof. Ibrahim Gambarigoogle

Gambari shed light on how Obasanjo, despite his notable credentials, encountered a formidable obstacle in his campaign.

The primary factor that reportedly worked against Obasanjo's candidacy was his military background, a detail that led to his disqualification by countries holding veto power in the United Nations.

This revelation came to light during an event where the biography of the late Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the first African UN Secretary-General, was presented to the public.

The biography, written by Prof. Adekeye Adebajo and entitled "Boutros Boutros-Ghali: Afro-Arab Prophet, Pharaoh, and Pope," offers a unique historical perspective on the life and career of the distinguished Egyptian diplomat. Boutros Boutros-Ghali assumed the role of UN Secretary-General in 1991 but served only one term, which concluded in 1996.

The book launch, held at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs in Victoria Island, featured Ambassador Martin Uhomoibhi as the reviewer, along with the presence of the NIIA Director General, Prof. Eghosa Osaghae.

He said, “I asked: ‘What do you mean? He is the most qualified former head of state, handed over power voluntarily to civilians, and was head of the group that led to the process of the end of apartheid.’

“He said ‘No. Listen carefully, when we, the big ones, are looking for a Sec Gen, the emphasis is on the secretary and not on the general.’ A very profound statement.

“The thing was that the veto ruling power wanted somebody they could dictate to, not a general, who would be giving them orders. Sometimes they think they are getting a secretary but they end up getting a general.

“Ghali, who they thought would be a secretary turned out to be a general and Koffi Annan, who they thought was a secretary turned out to be a general.

“When you turn out to be different from what the big powers want, they do something about it. Boutros-Ghali was not given a second term, and Koffi Annan was nearly forced to retire over frivolous charges.”

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