Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Ms. Vera Songwe (left); former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon and former Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations and UN Under-Secretary-General, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, during the Memorial symposium in honour of Prof. Adebayo Adedeji in Lagos… yesterday

Eminent politicians and diplomats from Africa, yesterday, called for effective democratic values, accountability and sense of patriotism to overcome marginalisation and impunity in the continent.

They also urged leaders to exemplify deeper sense of commitment to the social and economic development of the people as demonstrated by the former executive secretary of Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), late Prof. Adebayo Adedeji.

The leaders spoke at a memorial symposium titled, “Africa’s Development Agenda, Lessons From Adebayo Adedeji’s Years and Policy Options for the 21st Century,” held in honour of Prof. Adedeji. It was organised by the United Nations Economic Commission For Africa

Prof. Adedeji, Nigeria’s former federal commissioner for economic development and infrastructure (1971-1975), was a deeply committed builder of African regional institutions and integration, and a fearless advocate for Africa’s development during his time at the Economic Commission for Africa. He passed on April 25, 2018.

The symposium was attended by the President of Namibia; Hage Geingob, former Nigerian head of state; General Yakubu Gowon, Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; former Liberia President, Amos Sawyer, former Minister for external affairs; Ibrahim Gambari, the executive secretary of ECA; Vera Songwe, former minister for medical and health service in Kenya; Peter Anyang Nyong’o, among others.

Speaking at the event, Vice President Osinbajo described late Prof. Adedeji as a man who demonstrated traits required to move the continent forward, especially quality leadership and passionate about impacting the lives of Nigerians, as well as, the global community.
Represented by Ambassador Yemi Dipeolu, Osinbajo said Adedeji was a towering figure of Africa’s immediate post-colonial period, a public facing intellectual whose thinking and contributions continue to frame policy discourse in Nigeria, Africa and indeed the world.
In his eulogies, former Head of State, General Gowon, recalled that when Prof. Adedeji worked with him, he saw an immensely brilliant patriot, who perfectly fitted the role of a manager of the engine room of the governments’ national assignment of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation (3-R).
Gowon recalled that despite being globally acclaimed, Adedeji remained proudly Nigerian, placed the interest of the country above self until his last moment, adding: “His exceptional intellectual depth, made Nigeria a small stage for him and the world easily took note of his accomplishments. We missed him when United Nations’ headhunted him for the position of the Secretary of the Economic Community for Africa.”

Prof. Ibrahim Gambari emphasized the need for leaders to be innovative and adopt different approaches to issues that would move Africa forward.

Speaking on the contributions of Prof. Adedeji to the growth of Africa, he said; “Adedeji was a ‘Think Thank’, an outstanding scholar and pride of Africanism who even in poor health was always engaging, committed, concerned and creative on issues about Africa.”

Also speaking, the President of Namibia; Hage Geingob; stated that African leaders must put in place political mechanisms to strengthen its processes, systems and institution to engender effective leadership. He said effective leadership is vital for the continent as the days of coup d’état are over; adding that political leaders must not mystify power but understand that time limits must be put in place for those who crave to perpetuate themselves in power.

In a remark, the Executive secretary of ECA, Vera Songwe and former minister for medical and health services in Kenya; Peter Anyang Nyong’o, urged leaders in the continent to emphasize the diversification of the economy, promote integration of trade agreements and free the continent from debts, which has carpeted growth and development.

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