With garlands around the neck following his 80th birthday celebrations,super diplomat Chief Emeka Anyaoku Wednesday got another plume on his cap as former Abia state governor Dr.Orji Uzor Kalu called on President Goodluck Jonathan to name the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs [NIIA] after the Obosi High Chief.
Describing Anyaoku as a trail blazer,Kalu said,”No honour could be too much for Afrca’s first Commonwealth Secretary-General who also prepared the ground for two other diplomats from the continent,Egypt’s Boutros Boutros Ghali and Kofi Annan of Ghana to lead the United Nations[UN] in preceding years.”
Anyaoku was elected Commonwealth Secretary General on October 1989 by secret ballot in Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia to succeed Guyana’s Shridath Ramphal,thus becoming the organisations’ third boss from 1990-2000.Two years later,the UN took a cue by picking Ghali as the first African head of the world body.The Egyptian was replaced by another African Annan in 1997.
Highlighting Anyaoku’s place,the former governor said till date,no Nigerian had held such position regionally,continentally or globally.This he expained, was enough to guarantee the retired diplomat a place at the peak of Foreign Service.
“Without taking anything away from Gen.Joe Garba who was elected President of the UN General Assembly on August19,1989 and Assistant Secretary-General Ibrahim Gambari,I believe Anyaoku stands out.We have never had a Nigerian boss of ECOWAS.No Nigerian has fully managed the African Union[AU].When we tried,it did not work.Even Peter Onu who spent two years in Addis Ababa from 1983-1985 was not confirmed after Togo’s Edem Kodjo had left.Ide Oumarou from Niger took over from the Nigerian in full capacity,”Kalu added.
He also called Anyaoku a member of the University of Ibadan Golden generation that continues to make history.”I am talking of names like Wole Soyinka,First African to win the Nobel Prize in Literature,Grace Alele-Williams,First Nigerian female Vice-Chancellor,Chinua Achebe, Emmanuel Ifeajuna,First Nigerian Commonwealth Gold medalist,Gamaliel Onosode,father of modern banking,Bola Ige,the African Cicero, and Chief Olu Akaraogun among many others.
Anyaoku served briefly as the country’s Foreign Affairs minister in 1983 under the Shehu Shagari government.A detribalised Nigerian of Igbo background,he has been married to Bunmi ,a Yoruba for 50 years.
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