Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo was born on 22 April 1966 in Nasarawa Local Government Area of Kano State. He attended Gwagwarwa Special Primary School and Rumfa College, both in Kano. Thereafter, Vice Admiral Gambo enlisted into the Nigerian Defence Academy as a member of 36 Regular Course on 24 September 1984 and was commissioned Sub-Lieutenant on 24 October 1989.

The Admiral attended several military courses at home and abroad. These include; the Sub Lieutenant’s Technical Course and Officers Long Course with specialization in Under Water Warfare at Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) QUORRA. He also attended the Young Officers Course Intelligence, Junior and Senior Staff courses at the prestigious Armed Forces Command and Staff College Jaji, Nigeria as well as the National Defence College, South Africa. Vice Admiral Gambo was also at the National Security Seminar at Galilee International Management Institute, Israel and attended the Defence Intelligence College Kuru, Abuja.

In the pursuit of academic excellence, the Chief of the Naval Staff graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics from NDA and later obtained a Certificate in Information Technology from Modern Business Machine at Moloney, Lagos. He also attended the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho, where he successfully graduated with a Post Graduate Diploma in Transport Management (Logistics Option) and later obtained a Master of Science Degree in Transport Management (Logistics Option).

Vice Admiral AZ Gambo has held many appointments in the Nigerian Navy. He served in various capacities onboard several Nigerian Navy Ships and was the Officer in Charge of Tug APAYI JOE as well as the Executive Officer of NNS AYAM. He held the appointments of Staff Officer Grade II Intelligence, Maritime Component Operation HARMONY, Base Intelligence Officer and Base Operations Officer of NNS DELTA. The Senior officer was also the Deputy Director Order of Battle (ORBAT), Headquarters Defence Intelligence Agency and diligently served as Naval Assistant to the Chief of the Naval Staff. Other notable appointments held by the Admiral include; Pioneer Defence Attaché Luanda, Angola, Commander Directorate of Naval Intelligence Annex, Commandant Nigerian Navy Intelligence School and Deputy Director/Acting Director Defence Affairs in the Office of the National Security Adviser. He was equally the Director Simulation at the Naval Doctrine and Assessment Centre and Director Search and Rescue at the Defence Headquarters. Notably, Vice Admiral Gambo was the Security Coordinator Presidential Relief Committee on North-Eastern Nigeria, Chief Staff Officer, Headquarters Naval Training Command and was the Director Procurement, Defence Space Administration before his appointment as the 21st indigenous Chief of the Naval Staff on 26 January 2021.

In the course of his distinguished service in the Nigerian Navy, the Chief of the Naval Staff has earned some prestigious awards, which include ECOMOG Peacekeeping Medal, passed staff course (psc), Forces Service Star (FSS), Meritorious Service Star (MSS), Distinguished Service Staff (DSS) and General Service Star (GSS). Others are ensp (RSA) and Admiralty Medal (AM).

Vice Admiral Gambo is a member of some recognised professional bodies. He is a Fellow Nigerian Institute of Management, Member Institute of Safety Practitioners (MISP), Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Shipping (fcis) and Fellow International Institute of Professional Security (FIIPS). Others are Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Diplomacy Management (FCIPDM), Fellow of Occupational Safety & Health Association (FOSHA) and Distinguished Fellow Chartered Institute of Loan and Risk Management of Nigeria (DCILRM).

Since the assumption of Vice Admiral AZ Gambo as the Chief of the Naval Staff, the Nigerian Navy has recorded several feats. Notable amongst these is the significant reduction in piracy incidents in the Gulf of Guinea from 44 in 2020 to only 10 between Jan – Oct of 2021, most of which were thwarted and unsuccessful. Similarly, available records show a marked reduction in crude oil theft and illegal bunkering activities occasioned by the increased presence of Naval assets at sea. Within this short period, the NN has also taken delivery of several capital assets such as NNS LANA and the recently launched NNS KADA, while 3 new Naval bases are being established. It is also worth mentioning that the CNS has garnered the support of other maritime stakeholders, which led to the donation of maritime assets by AITEO and the NEXIM Bank. These feats foretell greater achievements for the Nigerian Navy and are worthy of National recognition.

Vice Admiral Gambo is a devoted Muslim who is happily married to Hajiya Nana Aishat Gambo and the marriage is blessed with 3 children comprising 2 girls and a boy. The senior officer enjoys cycling, golfing, watching nature and reading psychology books.