Prof Ibrahim Gambari: 5th HOD, ABU Dept of Pols Sc & Int’l Studies, [1982-1984]

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Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, CFR, OCORT, a scholar-diplomat, is the Founder/Chairman of the Board of Directors of Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development, a non-governmental think-tank on research and policy studies on conflict prevention and resolution as well as democratization and development in Africa.

SCDDD seeks to promote the evolution of Africa into a prosperous, politically stable and globally respected continent which is motivated by the culture of good governance. 

Prof Ibrahim Gambari
Prof Ibrahim Gambari

Prof Ibrahim Gambari has had an illustrious career, spanning academia, government and international diplomacy, culminating with his appointment as the first United Nations 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 policymakers as well as institutions in the continent to develop the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

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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 OAU/African Union as a national delegate (1984-1985) and as a member of the UN Secretary-General’s delegation (2000-2012).

Prof Ibrahim 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, thereby building trust and confidence with governments and policymakers in member countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Ambassador Gambari 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 served his country, Nigeria, as 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).

He also served as a delegate at the 2014 National Conference on the restructuring and promotion of national unity in Nigeria. At 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).

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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, 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.

In addition, he 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.  


Prof Ibrahim Gambari was born November November 24, 1944, in Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria. He attended Provincial (now Government) Secondary School, Ilorin before proceeding to the Floreat Collegium Kings College, Lagos.

He subsequently attended the London School of Economics where he obtained his B. Sc. (Economics) degree (1968) with a specialization in International Relations. He later obtained his M.A. (1970) and Ph.D. (1974) degrees from Columbia University, New York, the USA in Political Science /International Relations.

Prof Ibrahim Gambari’s Academic career

Professor Gambari began his teaching career in 1969 at City University of New York before working at the University of Albany. Later, he taught at Ahmadu Bello University, in Zaria, Kaduna State, the second-largest university in Africa serving as the 5th Hod of the department of political science and International Studies from 1982 to 1984.

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.

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He has received several academic and national honours, He was decorated with the title of Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR) by the Government of Nigeria., and the “Order of the Companion of the Oliver R. Tambo” (OCORT) of South Africa.

He was accorded, honoris causa, the title of Doctor of Humane Letters (D.Hum.Litt.) from the University of Bridgeport. He is a member of the Johns Hopkins University’s Society of Scholars.

On March 4, 2013, Ibrahim Gambari was appointed by the Kwara State Governor, Abdul Fatah Ahmad, as the pioneer Chancellor of the Kwara State University (KWASU), Ilorin, Nigeria. He was also appointed and as the Pro-chancellor and Chairman of the Board of Governing Council of Bayero University, Kano (BUK). He is married with children and grandchildren.

Chief of Staff to President

News emerged today 12th May 2020 that Professor Ibrahim Gambari has been appointed the new Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari. He replaces Mallam Abba Kyari, who died of COVID-19.

Gambari’s appointment was announced by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, at the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, 12th May 2020.

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