Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, the former Chief of Staff to
President Muhammadu Buhari has revealed how the former President Olusegun
Obasanjo missed out the opportunity to become the Secretary-General of the
Gambari stated this at the public presentation of the
biography of the first African UN Secretary-General, the late Boutros
The late Boutros-Ghal assumed office in 1991 but served only
one term till 1996.
According to Gambari, Obasanjo’s military background
disqualified him from being selected by the countries with veto power.
Speaking on the event that led to the choice of the late
Boutros-Ghali as the US Secretary General in 1991, Gambari said some envoy told
him, “Your candidate (Olusegun Obasanjo) has no chance in hell of becoming
The former Chief of Staff 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
“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
“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
“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.”
Gambari noted that apart from being the first UN
Secretary-General from the African continent, Boutros-Ghali was also the first
Post-Cold War Secretary General but encountered difficulty organising a
security council meeting that had all the heads of states as delegates.
He said, “He hardly had a meeting of the security council
where the chief delegates were the heads of states of those member states.”
Gambari described the 1994 Rwanda genocide as the low point
of Boutros-Ghali’s career.
He said, “It was under his watch that the UN failed to
respond adequately and to prevent genocide and when it was happening, the big
powers also did nothing.”
He added that Boutros-Ghali acted as a peace-making prophet
in terms of being the de-facto foreign minister of Egypt during the peace
treaty between Egypt and Israel between 1977 and 1981.
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