Prof. Adebayo Adedeji: The Quintessential Development Expert

 Prof. Adebayo Adedeji: The Quintessential Development Expert, By Babafemi Badejo Prof Adebayo Adedeji Prof. Adebayo Adedeji, the quintesse...


 Prof. Adebayo Adedeji: The Quintessential Development Expert, By Babafemi Badejo




Prof Adebayo Adedeji


Prof. Adebayo Adedeji, the quintessential development expert who held sway at the UN Economic Commission for Africa died last night April 25, 2018 in Lagos. Before the UN, he had played the most significant role on post civil war reconstruction of Nigeria as well as development planning for the entire country as Federal Commissioner for Economic and Development Planning.

I spent well over a year trying to put together his biography with his full cooperation but I have failed to return to the project for almost 7 years.

His death marks the end of a great era for Africa. He was the epitome of the push for integration in Africa. His intellectual and physical effort resulted in the formation of ECOWAS, in spite of the French effort to award the status of father of that institution to someone else.

Little known to the African public at large, was the role Adedeji played with respect to the decolonisation of Southern Africa, in general and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa in particular. As a man of integrity, he became a trusted conduit of funds and material to freedom fighters. For instance, from Siad Barre of Somalia and others, he delivered goodies for the onslaught against Rhodesia to Robert Mugabe in the bushes of Zambia.

Prof. Adedeji laboured with others towards building an independent economic growth and development for Africa. He challenged Bretton Woods orthodoxies. He provided the African alternative to the Western push for structural adjustment programmes. He gave intellectual great hope in Africa as Deng Tsiao Ping led on the transformation of China.

Alas, dependent globalisation order under corrupt leaders in Africa continues to radically chip away from the great efforts of the 1980s that Adebayo Adedeji led.

He was persuaded to retire from the UN and lead Nigeria as Babangida pretended that he really wanted to leave office. Not only did Babangida not want to leave office, Nigerian electorates, under the hold of decadent elites never support people with ideas for office. His quest for the Nigerian presidency was still born.

In retirement from the UN, he continued writing and was recognised as one of the world’s best 50 minds on economic development. He equally played significant role in pushing the AU Peer Review Mechanism forward as well as the first effort on AU Reforms.

Locally, he served his community as Asiwaju of Ijebuland among other responsibilities in collaboration with Awujale, the Ijebu king. A good number of times, he tagged me along to the palace especially during the annual colourful Ojude-Oba festival.

He had planned his retirement into Ijebu-Ode. He overtime built the African Centre for Development and Strategic Studies (ACDESS), which was opened with a lot of gusto with several serving Heads of State from Africa, with reverred Mwalimu Julius Nyerere in attendance.

ACDESS put out a significant volume on Africa annually with scholars and practitioners providing knowledge on how to handle the problems in many countries in Africa. I had joined others in contributing two chapters on Somalia and Kenya to the Monitor, 2006 edition that was devoted to “Africa Conflict, Peace and Governance. With demands on his time all over Africa, nay the world, the institutionalization of ACDESS suffered. On his 80th Birthday in 2010, attended by a number of former Presidents, some effort that was geared towards the revitalisation of ACDESS was too feeble. A clear succession plan was not realised. He did his part. Others can move ACDESS forward to achieve his dreams of a roundedly developed Africa.

Up JOGS
Non nobis Domine.
May he RiP

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