Ibrahim Agboola Gambari was born on 24 November 1944 in Ilorin to a Fulani ruling class family. His nephew Ibrahim Sulu Gambari is the Emir of Illorin.
Gambari served as the Minister for External Affairs between 1984 and 1985 under General Muhammadu Buhari’s military regime. From 1990 to 1999, he holds the record of being the longest serving Nigerian Ambassador to the United Nations, serving under five Heads of State and Presidents.
Gambari is a Nigerian academic and diplomat. He attended King’s College, Lagos and subsequently attended the London School of Economics where he obtained his B. Sc. (Economics) degree (1968) with specialisation in International Relations.
He later obtained his M.A. (1970) and Ph. D. (1974) degrees from Columbia University, New York, USA in Political Science /International Relations.
Gambari began his teaching career in 1969 at City University of New York before working at University of Albany. Later, he taught at Ahmadu Bello University, in Zaria, Kaduna State, the second largest university in Africa.
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.
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. 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. 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