1. Ibrahim Gambari, the newly appointed Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari is a Nigerian academic and diplomat.
2. He calls himself an “accidental diplomat.”
3. He was born on 24 November 1944 in Ilorin, Kwara State to a Fulani father – a member of a Fulani ruling class family – and a Yoruba mother.
4. He began life as a prince of the old emirate.
5. His nephew, Ibrahim Sulu Gambari, is the emir of Ilorin.
6. He attended Provincial (now Government) Secondary School, Ilorin, before proceeding to King’s College, Lagos for his A ‘levels.
7. In 1965, he was spotted by some British teachers at King’s College, Lagos, They decided to enroll him for his university education in the UK.
8. But his elder brother, Zulu Gambari, the highly influential emir of Ilorin from 1959 to 1991, had other ideas and insisted his younger brother attend the University of Ibadan (UI).
9. He went to UI but spent exactly two weeks there, according to family members.
10. His British mentors soon found out his whereabouts and took him straight to the London School of Economics and Political Science, one of the most prestigious institutions in the UK
11. He subsequently attended the London School of Economics where he obtained his B. Sc. (Economics) degree in 1968) with specialization in International Relations.
12. He later obtained his Masters of Arts (1970) and Ph. D. (1974) degrees from Columbia University, New York, in Political Science /International Relations.
13. He started his academic career in 1969 at City University of New York before working at the University of Albany.
14. He became an assistant professor at the State University of New York from 1974 to 1977
15. He started teaching at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Kaduna State in 1977 as a senior lecturer, where he rose to become a professor in 1983.
16. He was Visiting Professor at three universities in Washington, D.C.: Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Georgetown University and Howard University From 1986 to 1989.
17. 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.
18. He served as the Minister for External Affairs between 1984 and 1985 in General Muhammadu Buhari’s military regime.
19. He was 39 at the time he was appointed Minister for External Affairs.
20. He holds the record of being the longest-serving Nigerian Ambassador to the United Nations, serving under five Heads of State and Presidents From 1990 to 1999,
21. Gambari has held several positions in 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.
22. He was the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations for Political Affairs from 2005 to 2007 under Secretary-General’s Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-Moon.
23. 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.
24. He once said in an interview that: “As I always say, I regard myself as a teacher by training and diplomat by accident, long accident, but nonetheless accident! In many ways, I have been privileged and with privilege comes a lot of responsibility.”
25. In 1999, Gambari became the first under-secretary-general and special adviser to the secretary-general on Africa and served till 2005. In that capacity, he worked closely with heads of government, key policymakers as well as institutions in the continent to develop the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).
26. At the same time, he acted as the resident special representative of the secretary-general and head of the United Nations mission to Angola.
27. He was a delegate to the assembly of the African Union as a national delegate from 1984 to 1985 and member of the UN secretary-general’s delegation from 2000 to 2012.
28. From 2010 to 2012, Ban Ki-moon, UN’s secretary-general, appointed Gambari as the joint special representative of the United Nations-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), usually referred to as the world’s largest international peacekeeping mission.
29. In 1990, he was appointed as chairman of the UN’s special committee against apartheid for four years to coordinate eradication of apartheid in southern Africa.
30. He also served as Nigeria’s ambassador and permanent representative to the UN from 1990 to 1999.
31. He is one man who has proudly worked with dictators repeatedly and have been lauded and criticized for doing the same. He has worked with virtually every dictator in Nigeria, and rode on this record to persuade dictators around the world.
32. He had sought peace with Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, pursued the release of Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar, and taken on many of such arduous tasks for the UN.
33. In a bid to mediate for democracy in Sudan, he attended the wedding of the daughter of Musa Hilal, a Sudanese tribal leader, to Chad’s strongman Idris Deby, in the company of the Sudanese dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir. At this wedding, he was seen dinning and hugging dictators, which would later become a talking point for diplomats and researchers across the world.
34. On his job, he defended Abacha’s decision on the execution of the Ogoni nine. The BBC reported in 2008 that Gambari had called the activists “common criminal”. But Gambari insists that he was simply quoted out of context.
35. He has also been appointed to pressure dictators into favouring pro-democracy slants in numerous countries across the world — including Iraq and Burma.
36. He is a recipient of Nigeria’s third-highest national honour, Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFR).
37. In October 2012, former President Jacob Zuma conferred on him South Africa’s highest national honour for non-citizens, the Order of the Companion of the Oliver R. Tambo (OCORT).
38. In 2007, he received the special recognition for international development and diplomacy award conferred by the Africa-America Institute.
39. A year after, he was awarded the distinguished foreign service award by the federal government in 2008.
40. He also clinched the International House Harry Edmonds Award for Lifetime Achievement in New York in 2009 and the Campaign Against Genocide Medal by the Republic of Rwanda in 2010.
41. He is a research scholar with a plethora of published books, journals and articles on politics and international relations.
42. He has detailed the challenges with governance in Africa and global unrest. In his address to the civil society leaders’ stakeholders conference in Abuja in April 2018, He emphasized peace, democracy and accountability.
43. He is married to one wife and has three children.
44. He is the founder and Chairman of the Savannah Centre
45. He is also the co-chair of the Albright-Gambari Commission
46. He is a member of the Johns Hopkins University’s Society of Scholars.
47. He was accorded, honoris causa, the title of Doctor of Humane Letters (D.Hum.Litt.) from the University of Bridgeport.
48. On 4 March 2013, he was named by the then Governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmad, as the Chancellor of the Kwara State University.