Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday appointed a new chief of staff, weeks after his principal assistant died from COVID-19 complications.

The new principal assistant to the president, Ibrahim Gambari, was received earlier in the day by other senior presidential aides at the Presidential Villa in Abuja ahead of a cabinet meeting headed by Buhari via teleconferencing.

As a scholar-diplomat, Gambari has had an illustrious career, spanning academia, government and international diplomacy, culminating with his appointment as the UN under-secretary-general and special adviser to the secretary-general on Africa between 1999 and 2005.

He was also the chairman of the UN Special Committee Against Apartheid from 1990 to 1994 and on peacekeeping operations between 1990 and 1999.

Gambari was head of the UN Department of Political Affairs from 2005 to 2007 and also operated as the secretary-general’s special envoy on Cyprus, Zimbabwe and Myanmar, as well as his special representative in Angola.

Between 1984 and 1985, when Buhari was military head of state, the new top presidential aide served as Nigeria’s Minister of External Affairs, and subsequently ambassador and permanent representative of Nigeria to the United Nations from 1990 to 1999.

As the newly appointed chief of staff to the president, Gambari will officially head the bureaucracy at the Nigerian seat of power and answerable only to the Nigerian president.

The former chief of staff, Abba Kyari, died on April 17 at a hospital in Lagos while receiving treatment for COVID-19.

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