Releases Gambari For Niger Delta Summit
request for the release of Professor Ibrahim A. Gambari to
chair the Steering Committee on the Niger Delta crisis has
been approved by the United Nations (UN), which would
oversee the much-expected summit.
President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua is said to
be keen on keeping the Niger Delta problem a domestic
concern. There is also a wide consensus on the
international dimension to the crisis, which partly
explains the Federal Government's decision to use a
well-known international civil servant and diplomat to
lead the Summit.
The UN Secretariat said in a statement
issued by the Deputy Spokesperson for the UN
Secretary-General Marie Okabe that Ban Ki-Moon has agreed
to the request of the Government of Nigeria, to release
Prof. Gambari for the position of Chairman of the Steering
Committee on the Niger Delta Stakeholders Summit in
Nigeria for the period of the Summit."
The statement released earlier this week
by the Office of the Spokesperson of the UN's
Secretary-General ended concerns that the world body was
holding down plans by Nigeria to organize the confab. The
Yar'Adua administration had pledged last year that the
summit was imperative and was one of the priorities of the
government. Delays from the government to move ahead with
the plan shifted to the UN Secretariat a few months ago
when Nigeria asked for Gambari's release.
Gambari, former Nigeria's External
Affairs Minister and one-time Ambassador/Permanent
Representative to the UN will not conduct the assignment
in his official UN capacity but as a Nigerian, yet he
would still be keeping his status as the body's senior
The statement said Gambari, who is the
current UN Under Secretary-General and Special Adviser
"will take up this position in his personal capacity" and
will be on leave from his UN assignment for the duration
of the summit.
The Nigerian diplomat confirmed the UN
statement in New York earlier in the week when he said: "I
have been informed by the Secretary-General that he has
responded positively to the Nigerian government request."
The request came from the office of Vice
President Jonathan Goodluck in March, this year to the
office of the UN Secretary-General. Sources said the UN
management team had to consider the request within the
rules of the world body before Ban could take a decision.
Gambari, who is rated something of an
elder statesman in international diplomacy is now
overseeing two critical UN assignments on behalf of its
He is the immediate past head of the
UN's Political Affairs Department as Under
Secretary-General and now he is the Special Envoy to
Myanmar in the rank of an Under secretary which is the
most senior UN Secretariat rank just below the
Secretary-General and the deputy.
Commenting on his new assignment to
oversee the Niger Delta, Gambari said: "This is a double
honor for me: for the confidence the Nigerian government
has in me and the fact that the UN is releasing me for the
But he confessed that the task of
steering the Niger Delta summit is a complex one. "I
realize the complexity of the assignment and the
challenges ahead, but like previous national and
international assignments that I have been privileged to
be given, I promise to do my very best to produce tangible