Ibrahim Gambari, a retired diplomat, has been appointed as president Muhammadu Buhari chief of staff, according to a presidential source, the Emir of Ilorin and a UN representative to Nigeria.
The appointment has not been officially announced by the president. Gambari is one of Buhari’s appointees during his military rule.
A presidency source who spoke with The Guardian on the condition of anonymous said: “it’s yet to be official and so let’s see what happens during the virtual FEC tomorrow.”
But the Emir in Ilorin, Gambari’s hometown, in a statement on Tuesday evening thanked Buhari “for appointing Professor Ibrahim Gambari as Buhari’s new Chief of Staff.”
Mohamed Yahya, the Resident Representative to Nigeria for the United Nations Development Programme, has also tweeted about Gambari’s appointment.
“I Congratulate Prof. Agboola Gambari former UN Under-Sec-General and a true PanAfricanist, for his appointment as new Chief of Staff to Pres @MBuhari,” Yahya tweeted.
“Looking forward to forging partnerships that will continue to support the achievement of Nigeria and Africa’s devt agenda,” he added.
The appointment of a new chief of staff comes almost a month the former chief of staff to Buhari, Abba Kyari, died.
Abba Kyari held the position 75-year-old Gambari is expected to fill. Kyari died last month after weeks of battling COVID-19.
Buhari described Kyari as a friend, brother. His death opened a new wave of hope for other close allies of the president – Kingibe, former Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun and others who reportedly fancied Kyari’s office.
The hopes of the ‘throne’ admirers look buried on Tuesday evening with multiple sources insisting that Buhari had opted to replace late Kyari with Gambari, another trusted ally.
Who is Ibrahim Gambari?
The 75-year old Kwara State-born Prof Ibrahim Gambari had his career in academia, government and international diplomacy.
He as the first United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Africa between 1999 and 2005.
Gambari 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.
He was Under-Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Department of Political Affairs (2005-2007). In that period, he also operated as UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Cyprus, Zimbabwe and Myanmar.
On 22 May 2007, the Secretary-General entrusted Prof Ibrahim Gambari 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.
He has served Nigeria in different capacities. Gambari was Director-General at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs; Minister of External Affairs (1984-1985) and subsequently Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations (1990-1999).
At the international level, Prof Ibrahim Gambari held numerous United Nations positions, including Chairman of the UN Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations and the UNSG’s Special Adviser on Africa.
Professor Gambari also served as Joint AU/UN Special Representative in Darfur and Head of UNAMID, which was then the largest international peacekeeping operation in the world and the first hybrid Mission. He had in different capacities, worked with four successive United Nations Secretary-General (Perez de Cuella, Boutros-Ghali, Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon).
He currently co-chairs the Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance at the Hague Institute for Global Justice and the Stimson Centre at Washington D.C.
In January 2017, he was appointed a member and is currently Deputy Chairperson of the Panel of Eminent Persons of African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), a Specialized Agency of the African Union for the promotion of good governance at the political, economic and corporate levels.
In the same vein, Prof Ibrahim Gambari was appointed in 2016 by Patricia Scotland, QC, and the Commonwealth Secretary-General as the Special Envoy to Zambia on Elections and reappointed in 2017 as the Special Envoy for Democratic Stability and Elections 2020.
Gambari is a member of the Senior Working Group (SWG) of the United States Institute for Peace (USIP). Also in May 2017, he was honoured with the Global Leadership Award by the University of South Florida, USA.
Gambari was the 5th HOD in the Department of Political Science and International Studies from 1982-1984.