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Prof Adebayo Adedeji, is dead

Pioneer Executive Director of the Addis Ababa, Ethiopia-based United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and Under Secretary General of the UN, Prof Adebayo Adedeji, is dead.

He died in Lagos after a protracted illness. He was  87.  He was born in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State on December 21, 1930.

His death, in the late hours of Wednesday, was announced by a family member, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

After obtaining B.Sc and PhD in Economics at London School of Economics and an MPA from Harvard University, Adedeji joined the University of Ife, where he became a professor of economics at the age of 36.

Adedeji was the ECA boss between 1975-1978, after which he was appointed the UN Undersecretary general. He remained in the ECA post until 1991.

One of Africa’s foremost proponents of regional integration, Adedeji was Nigeria’s post-civil federal commissioner for economic development and reconstruction, from 1971.

He played key roles in the establishment of the Economic Commission for West Africa States (ECOWAS). He also inspired the formation of the National Youth Service Corps in 1973 and became the pioneer Chairman.

It was at the ECA that Adedeji was able to make most significant impact on regional integration on the continent.

Adedeji actively promoted the creation of other regional groupings, including the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA), which later became the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday expressed sadness over the death of Prof. Adedeji, whom he described as “a patriotic Nigerian, economist, administrator, scholar and international statesman.’’

The president made this known in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, in Abuja yesterday.

He noted 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 ECA.

He said 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,” he said.

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