Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, the former Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, shared insights into how former President Olusegun Obasanjo missed the opportunity to become the Secretary-General of the United Nations during a public presentation of the biography of the first African UN Secretary-General, the late Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
Gambari explained that Obasanjo’s military background worked against him in the selection process because countries with veto power in the UN preferred candidates who could be more easily influenced as secretaries rather than those with a more authoritative or “general” approach. He mentioned that when major powers were seeking a Secretary-General, their emphasis was on the “secretary” aspect rather than the “general.”
Ultimately, Boutros-Ghali was chosen as UN Secretary-General in 1991, although his tenure had its challenges, including difficulty organizing Security Council meetings attended by heads of state as delegates. Gambari also pointed out that Boutros-Ghali’s tenure included the tragic failure of the UN to respond effectively to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, which was a low point in his career.
In summary, Prof. Gambari’s remarks shed light on the dynamics that influenced the selection of UN Secretary-Generals and how these considerations affected candidates like Olusegun Obasanjo and Boutros Boutros-Ghali during their respective times.
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