President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed sadness over the death of Prof. Adebayo Adedeji, whom he described as “a patriotic Nigerian, economist, administrator, scholar and international statesman.’’
Buhari in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, on Thursday, stated that the deceased was best known and highly respected across the continent for the achievements recorded during his tenure as United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa.
He said that Adedeji used his leadership of the pan-African institution to promote African development and was in the vanguard of intellectual efforts to find solutions to Africa’s developmental challenges from within the continent.
According to the president, Africa remains grateful to him for the intellectual effort to challenge and reverse the damaging Structural Adjustment Programmes imposed on the continent by conceiving the African Alternative Framework for Structural Adjustment Programmes (AAF-SAP).
“It is noteworthy that Prof. Adedeji was one of the first people to realise, as far back as the early 1980s, that environment, gender, and governance, which have now become common place in development discourse, were important for sustainable development in Africa.
“The extent of his commitment and contribution to these issues was demonstrated when he served in his latter years as the first Chairman of the African Peer Review Mechanism which gave Africa ownership of its own governance agenda.
“It will also be recalled with nostalgia that Prof. Adedeji was a leading exponent of Regional Integration in the continent,’’ he said.
The president also noted that during his tenure as Nigerian Federal Commissioner for Economic Development, the deceased successfully spearheaded the establishment of the Economic Community of West African States which became the template for regional integration arrangements across the continent.
He also maintained that Nigeria owed late Adedeji a debt of gratitude for his leading role in the establishment of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) when he was Federal Commissioner for Economic Development.
He said the NYSC was one of the most enduring initiatives for nation building.
The president, therefore, noted that Adedeji’s work had impacted on several generations of young Nigerians in addition to the impact he made from teaching and mentoring early generations of Nigerian administrators as Director of the Institute of Administration at the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University).
“Prof Adedeji was also Asiwaju of Ijebuland and his death is a great loss to Ogun State, Nigeria and indeed the rest of Africa.
“His life was one of patriotism, distinguished service, hard work and unrelenting intellectual activity.
“As we mourn the demise of this great man, I extend sincere condolences on my part and on behalf of the Government and people of Nigeria to the entire family, his friends and associates and the entire African development community,” the President said.
“May the soul of the dear departed, Prof. Adedeji, rest in perfect peace,” the statement added.