Former Federal Commissioner, Adedeji, Dies at 87

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A former Federal Commissioner for the Ministry of Economic Development and Reconstruction, as well as ex-Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Professor Adebayo Adedeji, has died.

A statement from his family Thursday said he died at the age of 87 on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, after a brief illness.

According to the statement, the late Asiwaju of Ijebu and Olotu’fore of Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, had a singularly distinguished academic, managerial, national and international, diplomatic and political career in service to Nigeria, Africa and the international community.

“At the age of 36 years, he became a full-fledged professor at the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Nigeria. In 1971, he was drafted into the General Yakubu Gowon’s government as the cabinet minister responsible for the economic development and reconstruction of post-civil war Nigeria. He was the founder and pioneer chairman of the Nigerian National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and the father of ECOWAS which he established in May 1975 – after more than three years arduous negotiations with governments and countries divided into Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone spheres of influence,” the statement explained.

He was appointed United Nations Assistant-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Addis Ababa in June 1975 and was promoted to the rank of United Nations Under-Secretary-General in January 1978 – a position he held with tremendous success until July 1991 when he resigned to return to Nigeria after 16 years of international service.

Prior to this, at the height of the African Great Drought Disaster and Economic Crisis of 1984 to 1986, Professor Adedeji also served as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Africa’s Economic Crisis in addition to his onerous duties as ECA’s Chief Executive.

Immediately after his resignation from the United Nations in 1991, Professor Adedeji established the African Centre for Development and Strategic Studies (ACDESS), a non-government, independent, continental, non-profit-making think-tank dedicated to multi-disciplinary and strategic studies on and for Africa.

In his writings, Professor Adedeji had stressed the need for Africa’s socio-economic transformation and for genuine democratisation based on an indigenously-crafted human-centred holistic development paradigm.

After his departure from the United Nations in 1991, Professor Adedeji also served extensively as a consultant to United Nations organisations, African governments, non-governmental organisations and universities.

In 2010, after turning 80, Professor Adedeji retired from public life and spent the last years of his life quietly in his hometown of Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.

In recognition of his contributions to nation building, Prof Adedeji was awarded the national honour Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR) by the federal government.

He is survived by children and grandchildren.