STARS FROM THE NORTHEAST: AMBASSADOR BABAGANA KINGIBE, GCON
Hajara Mohammed (Abuja)
Ambassador Kingibe is a Nigerian of international repute whose tentacles reaches far and near in both the intelligence and political circle of Africa and the world at large.To most people the man is a closed book because of his refusal to grant interviews to the press for over a decade.Here is a brief and concise profile of the the man who President conferred with the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger.
Ambassador Babagana Kingibe as he is popularly known, was born on the 25th of June, 1945 to the family of Mustafa Shuwa and Ya Kingi Mallam. He grew up in city of Maiduguri and attended primary schools in the city. In 1958, he was admitted into the Borno Provincial Secondary School, however, in 1960, he traveled to London to complete his O’Level and A-level at Bishop’s Stortford College under a Borno Native Authority sponsored scholarship scheme. He took up further studies earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in international relations at the University of Sussex where he was mates with Thabo Mbeki; he started pursuing a doctorate programme in Switzerland but he left the program before completing his degree. He returned to Nigeria and started work as a Research and Planning Officer at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria but he soon left the college to become the head of Features and Current Affairs at the Broadcasting Corporation of Northern Nigeria. In 1972, he joined the Nigerian Foreign Service where he started work as a senior counselor and later became the head of the political desk at the Nigerian High Commission in London. During the Obasanjo administration in the late 1970s, Kingibe worked in the political department as principal secretary and was involved in the government’s return to civil rule programme, states creation and boundary adjustment, local government reforms and the constitutional drafting committee. In 1981,at age 36, he was appointed the Nigerian ambassador to Greece and later the country’s representative in Pakistan.
Kingibe entered Nigerian political scene during the beginning of the Third Nigerian Republic. In 1988, he was made Director of organization of the People’s Front of Nigeria (PFN) which was then led by Shehu Musa Yar’Adua. The PFN later joined Social Democratic Party in 1989. During the conduct of elections for national executive positions in the party, Kingibe was sponsored by the People’s Front faction of SDP as the party’s National Chairman, a position he went on to clinch. As chairman, Kingibe was involved in the organization of the party’s gubernatorial and presidential primaries in 1991 and 1992 respectively. However, after the cancellations of presidential elections in 1992 in which Shehu Yaradua was a candidate, Kingibe put himself forward as a presidential candidate. He lost the keenly contested primary conducted in Jos but after much prodding from SDP governors, he was selected by the winner of the primary election, Chief MKO Abiola as Vice-presidential running mate, creating a Muslim-Muslim ticket which was initially thought to be a deal breaker in the general elections. The pair won the electoral majority although the result was annulled by abdicating president General Ibrahim Babangida. Baba later joined General Sani Abacha as the Foreign Minister of Nigeria from 1993 to 1995. Baba also served as Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister of Power and Steel, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Greece and Pakistan.
AU ENVOY TO DARFUR, SUDAN
Amb. Baba Gana Kingibe served from October 2002 to September 2006 as AU Special Envoy to Sudan and subsequently Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and head of the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS) and Darfur.
In June 2007, he was appointed Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria. He was unceremoniously removed from office on September 8, 2008 as a consequence of inner power play after some overtly ambitious aides of President Yar’Adua viewed him as a threat.
On the 6th of June, 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari bestowed on him the National Honour of Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON). Chief MKO Abiola was also posthumously awarded with Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, (GCFR). Their award is to be bestowed on them on Democracy Day, the 12th of June, 2018.
His Excellency Kingibe will always be considered as one of the great stars of Nigeria from the northeast.