Following the death of former Chief of Staff, Abba Kyyari from coronavirus, the Buhari government has announced a replacement, in the person of 75-year-old Professor Ibrahim Gambari. Professor Gambari is a well known diplomat who has served in various ambassadorial capacities for both Nigeria and the United Nations. He is also known for his long term relationship with President Buhari, having served as a minister during the former’s military regime. The appointment was confirmed at Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council meeting which was presided by the president.
Gambari attended King’s College, Lagos and subsequently went to the London School of Economics where he obtained his B. Sc. (Economics) degree in1968, with specialisation in International Relations. He later obtained his M.A. and Ph. D. in Political Science /International Relations in 1970 and 1974 respectively degrees from Columbia University, New York, USA
Scholarship and Academics
Gambari began his teaching career in 1969 at City University of New York before working at University of Albany. Upon returning to Nigeria, he was appointed Senior Lecturer at Ahmadu Bello University, in Zaria (1969-1974). He rose to become an Associate Professor (Reader), (1980-1983) and subsequently full Professor at the same University in 1983. From 1986 to 1989, he was Visiting Professor at three universities in Washington, D.C.: Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Georgetown University and Howard University. He has also been a research fellow at the Brookings Institution also in Washington D.C. and a Resident Scholar at the Bellagio Study and Conference Center, the Rockefeller Foundation-run center in Italy.
Professor Gambari served as the Minister for External Affairs between 1984 and 1985 under General Muhammadu Buhari’s military regime. From 1990 to 1999, he held the record of being the longest serving Nigerian Ambassador to the United Nations, serving under five Heads of State and Presidents.
Career with the United Nations
In 1999, he was the President of UNICEF and later became UN Under Secretary-General and the first Special Adviser on Africa to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan from 1999 to 2005. From 2005 to 2007, he served as the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations for Political Affairs under Secretary-General’s Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-Moon. His last appointment in the UN was from January 2010 to July 2012, when he was appointed by Ban Ki-moon and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission as the Joint African Union-United Nations Special Representative for Darfur.
Professor Gambari, is currently 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.
Awards and Recognition
Professor Gambari is a recipient of the third highest national honour, Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFR). He was elected to the Johns Hopkins University Society of Scholars in 2002, and has also been awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters (honoris causa) from the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut (2002) and Fairleigh Dickinson University, New Jersey (2006). Other accolades include:
- Honorary Doctorate of Public Service, Chatham University (May 2008)
- Honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt), University of Ibadan, Nigeria (November 2011)
- 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)
- Appointed as First Chancellor, Kwara State University in Nigeria, March 2013