By Ridwan Ojiah:-
President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari as his new Chief of Staff (CoS).
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha announced Professor Gambari’s appointment before the start of the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday.
A former Minister of External Affairs, Professor Gambari’s appointment comes weeks after the demise of the former Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari Kyari had died from coronavirus (COVID-19) complications on April 17, 2020.
Gambari served as the country’s Minister of External Affairs between 1984 and 1985.
While the news of his appointment is making the rounds, here are seven things you should know about President Buhari’s new Chief of Staff:
1. Royal Blood
Born in Ilorin, Kwara State on November 24, 1944, Professor Gambari is related to the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari.
The 75-year-old Ilorin Prince is also the Wambai of Ilorin Emirate.
2. Seasoned Scholar
President Buhari’s new Chief of Staff started off his teaching career in 1969 at City University of New York.
It was after working with the school that he teamed up with the University of Albany before he returned home to lecture at the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Kaduna State.
He was a visiting Professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Georgetown University and Howard University – all in Washington D.C – between 1986 and 1989.
Also, Professor Gambari had served as a research fellow at the Brookings Institution and was a Resident Scholar at the Bellagio Study and Conference Centre.
The then-Governor of Kwara State, Abdul Fatah Ahmad, appointed him as the first Chancellor of the Kwara State University in 2013.
3. Started off Education in Nigeria
The seasoned scholar attended the Provincial (now Government) Secondary School, Ilorin. He later moved to the King’s College in Lagos from where he went ahead to obtain his B.Sc in Economics, at the London School of Economics (1968) with a speciality in International Relations.
Professor Gambari’s educational sojourn also saw him bagging an M.A (1970) and PhD (1974) degree in Political Science/International Relations from the Columbia University, New York, USA.
4. Long-Time Ally
Between 1984 and 1985, the Ilorin Prince served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs during President Buhari’s reign as the country’s military leader.
He is believed to have had a strong relationship with the Nigerian leader during his first administration of the West African nation so much so that the duo met daily to discuss the country’s affairs.
5. Renowned and Vastly-Experienced Diplomat
Gambari’s wealth of experience serving in several positions at international level is one area that the Buhari administration will look forward to tapping into.
He worked as the Joint Joint AU/UN Special Representative in Darfur and Head of UNAMID (2010-2012). Also, Professor Gambari was the first United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Africa between 1999 and 2005 and had before then, 1990-1994, chaired the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid.
As the chair of the UN’s Special Committee Against Apartheid, Professor Gambari’s duties included liaising with governments across Africa to implement the organization’s policy on stamping out apartheid. He functioned as the head of the global body’s Department of Political Affairs – 2005- 2007 –and was the Chairman of the UN’s Special Committee on Peace-keeping Operations (1990-1999).
Until his appointment as President Buhari’s CoS, the scholar was a Chairperson of the Panel of Eminent Persons of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and previously worked as UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Cyprus, Zimbabwe and Myanmar and Special Representative in Angola.
Interestingly, he was the Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations (1990-1999) and had worked as the Joint AU/UN Special Representative in Darfur and Head of UNAMID between 2010 and 2012.
6. Honoured at Home and Abroad
The Founder and Chairman, Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy & Development (SCDDD), “a non-governmental think-tank on research, policy studies, advocacy,” has received several awards both at home and abroad.
The new Chief of Staff has been honoured with as a Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFR), Nigeria’s third-highest honour and was in 2002 awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters (honoris causa) by the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut.
In 2006, the Farleigh Dickinson University, New Jersey in the US, also, awarded him a Doctor of Humane Letters (honoris causa). The co-chair of the Albright-Gambari Commission got South Africa’s highest national honour conferred on non-citizens –the Order of the Companions of O. R. Tambo –on October 26, 2012. It was conferred on him by the then-South African President Jacob Zuma.
7. Democratic Ambassador
Over the years, Professor Gambari who has a wife, Mrs Fatimah Gambari and three children, has published many books, essays, articles and journals on governance and democracy and its challenges in Africa. He is also the present the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of Bayero University, Kano (BUK).
By Ridwan Ojiah:-