Unveiling Ibrahim Gambari, New Chief of Staff

Unveiling Ibrahim Gambari, New Chief of Staff

…Says I’ll be Loyal to the President, Serve Him to the Best of My Ability Newly appointed Chief of Staff, Prof Ibrahim Agboola Gambari who attended the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, has assured the nation that he will be loyal to President Muhammadu Buhari and serve him to the best of his ability.

…Says I’ll be Loyal to the President, Serve Him to the Best of My Ability

Newly appointed Chief of Staff, Prof Ibrahim Agboola Gambari who attended the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, has assured the nation that he will be loyal to President Muhammadu Buhari and serve him to the best of his ability.

Speaking to reporters at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, shortly after he was officially unveiled by Mr Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Gambari, a former Foreign Affairs Minister, says, “I want to thank the President of the Federal Republic for giving me this opportunity to serve him and of the country.”

On expectation of his new office, Mr Gambari, a former Under Secretary at the United Nations, quips: “I have not started, so I will find out and maybe… I don’t report directly to the nation, I report directly to the President.”

The Prince of the Alimi Dynasty of Ilorin, Kwara State however says, “I think he needs my loyalty, competence and support,” adding that his guiding principle would be “to serve the President to the best of my ability.”

Gambari who replaces Mr Abba Kyari who died from complications related to Covid-19 on April 17, comes to the office with rich and varying experiences steep in Scholarship, Diplomacy, Conflict Resolution and Public Aministration.

Born in 1944, Gambari attended King’s College, Lagos from where he proceeded to London School of Economics (LSE) to read Political Science. He was also at Columbia University, New York where he earned his Masters in 1970 and PhD degree in 1974.

Ambassador Gambari, a Nigerian scholar-diplomat, was the first Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Africa (1999-2005). In that capacity, he worked closely with heads of government, key policy makers as well as institutions on the continent to develop the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

During this period, he was concurrently the Resident Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission to Angola (2002-2003). He has been a delegate to the Assembly of the African Union as a national delegate (1984-1985) and as a member of the UN Secretary-General’s delegation (2000-2012).

Gambari, is the Founder/Chairman of Savannah Center External link in Abuja, Nigeria, a think-tank for research, training and public policy debate on the nexus between diplomacy (conflict resolution), democracy and development in Africa.

His last assignment at the United Nations was as the Joint Special Representative of the Secretary General and Chairperson of the African Union Commission/Head of the UN and AU Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) from January 2010 to July 2012. During his tenure, UNAMID was the world’s largest international peacekeeping mission.

Gambari has held several leadership positions at the national, regional and international levels and has built extensive contacts with governments as well as public and private institutions, especially in Africa. He was the Chairman of the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid (1990-1994) during which he worked closely with African governments to coordinate UN policy to eradicate apartheid, thereby building trust and confidence with governments and policymakers in member countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

As Under-Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Department of Political Affairs (2005-2007), he also operated as UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Cyprus, Zimbabwe and Myanmar. On May 22, 2007, the Secretary-General entrusted him with the Good Offices Mandate on Myanmar. He was also appointed in 2007 by the Secretary-General as Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Iraq Compact and Other Issues, positions he held until 2009.

Before joining the United Nations, he served his country as Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations (1990-1999). He was also Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria (1984-1985) and worked closely with regional leaders, institutions and governments, particularly within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the economic and political development of the sub-region. Prior to this, he was the Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs.

As a scholar, Gambari is the author of several books and scholarly articles. He began his teaching career as a Lecturer at the Queen’s College, City University of New York (1969-1974), followed by an Assistant Professorship at the State University of New York (1974-1977). Upon returning to Nigeria, he was appointed Senior Lecturer at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, (1977-1980), and rose to become an Associate Professor (Reader), (1980-1983) and subsequently full Professor at the same University.

He was a visiting Professor at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of the Johns Hopkins University, Georgetown University and Howard University in Washington, D.C. from 1986 to 1989. Gambari was also a Research Fellow at the Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C., as well as a Resident Scholar with the Rockefeller Foundation Centre in Bellagio, Italy.

A recipient of the third highest national honour, Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFR), Gambari has also been awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters (honoris causa) from the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut (2002) and Farleigh Dickinson University, New Jersey (2006). Others include: Honorary Doctorate of Public Service, Chatham University (May 2008) and Honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt), University of Ibadan, Nigeria (November 2011).

He has also received the Special Recognition for International Development and Diplomacy Award conferred by the Africa-America Institute (September 2007), the Distinguished (Foreign) Service Award by the Federal Government of Nigeria (April 2008), the International House Harry Edmonds Award for Lifetime Achievement, New York (May 2009) and the Campaign Against Genocide Medal by the Republic of Rwanda (July 2010).

Gambari received South Africa’s highest national honour conferred on non-citizens, the Order of the Companions of O. R. Tambo, which was conferred to him personally by then President Jacob Zuma on October 26, 2012.

Professor Gambari was elected to the Johns Hopkins University Society of Scholars in 2002 and has since 2005 served as a member of the International Advisory Board of the Institute of Peace, Leadership and Governance at Africa University, Zimbabwe. He was appointed as First Chancellor, Kwara State University in Nigeria, March 2013.

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