The appointment has not been officially announced by the president.
Mr Gambari, 75, who was the first United Nation’s Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Africa, is said to be “awaiting an official letter of confirmation” as the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, according to multiple sources.
In a statement by his aide, Abdulazeez Arowona, the Ilorin emir thanked President Muhammadu Buhari “for appointing Professor Ibrahim Gambari as his new Chief of Staff.”
The emir described the appointment as a “great honour to the entire people of Ilorin Emirate and Kwarans at large.”
The diplomat, Mr Gambari, is from Ilorin.
An aide to Mr Gambari also told PREMIUM TIMES that “we are awaiting the official letter of confirmation,” after confirming his principal had been notified.
Mr Gambari, from Kwara State, north-central Nigeria, is replacing Abba Kyari, the powerful presidential aide who died, aged 67, last month following COVID-19 complications.
Femi Adesina, a spokesperson for Mr Buhari, did not answer calls placed to get an official comment for this report.
Mr Gambari was also not picking calls for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Sources familiar with the development told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr Gambari had been vetted for the role and he would be officially announced barring any change.
The Chief of Staff is the Nigerian president’s gate-keeper and topmost executive aide. The office became enormously influential like never before with late Mr Kyari, empowered by Mr Buhari to coordinate virtually all aspects of governance.
Mr Gambari was the external affairs minister (1984-1985) under Mr Buhari’s spell as a military head of state.
In 2008, Mr Gambari resigned as the head of a committee organising peace talks between Nigeria’s government under late Umaru Yar’Adua and the Niger Delta militants, following opposition from the oil-rich region.
He was Nigeria’s envoy to the UN in 1995 when Ogoni leader, writer and activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and eight others, were hanged by the junta of late kleptocrat Sani Abacha after leading protests against international oil companies, most notably Shell.
Niger Delta leaders and the militant group MEND rejected Mr Gambari’s headship of the proposed peace talks, saying he had defended Mr Abacha’s actions against international condemnation at the time of the execution of Sar-Wiwa and other Ogoni activists.