Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has expressed sadness over the death of a former Nigerian Ambassador, Oluyemi Adeniji.
Mr. Adeniji, who served in the civilian administration of Mr. Obasanjo as Foreign Affairs Minister, died in London on Wednesday at the age of 83.
Mr. Obasanjo, in a condolence letter he sent from China where he is attending this year’s Club of Madrid General Assembly and Annual Policy Dialogue, said the news of Mr. Adeniji left him with a deep personal sense of loss.
In the letter addressed to the Ogun State Government, the former president said the nation has lost one of its most outstanding diplomats who had brought his unique knowledge and experience into Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the international community.
“Amb. Adeniji’s enormous contributions to the nation in particular, and international community in general earned him an eminent position in the nation’s gallery of unforgettable public servants,” Mr. Obasanjo said.
“In particular, I note his memorable stint in the Nigerian Foreign Service in the decades after Nigeria’s attainment of independence, during which he carved a niche for himself in global diplomacy.”
Mr. Obasanjo also recalled that the deceased served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Nigerian embassies in Washington D.C., Sierra Leone, Ghana and France.
He said that in all of these places, Mr. Adeniji served with commitment, loyally and distinction, and contributing immeasurably to laying a solid foundation for the present cordial relations between Nigeria and all the countries he served as Nigerian representative.
“I do know that when he was in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he was both respected and honoured by Nigerian missions abroad and foreign missions at home,” the former president noted.
“At the international level, especially at the UN, where he served as Special Representative of the Secretary-General with the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone, UNAMSIL, between 1999 and 2003, professionalism, quality and integrity were his imprint and legacy.”
He further recalled that Mr. Adeniji worked closely with him as his Minister of Foreign Affairs between 2003 and 2006 and later as Minister of Internal Affairs between 2006 and 2007.
“He contributed immensely to the anticipation and management of crisis within and in several brother African countries, in pursuance of our foreign policy thrust, which retained Africa as centrepiece of our diplomatic agenda.
“Indeed, the world is a better place, more peaceful and more stable because of his efforts. This, no doubt, ensured for him a place of honour in the roll of outstanding diplomats and statesmen of our generation.
The great outpouring of sympathy since Amb. Adeniji’s death was announced is also an eloquent testimony to the enduring, nationwide bonds of comradeship and friendship which he forged in his many years of service to our nation and the global world,” Mr. Obasanjo stated.
”I urge you to find consolation in the fact that God granted him the grace to have come this far in the journey of life and in the enviable legacies that he left behind in the community, the State, the nation and the international community for which we shall always celebrate his life on earth.”
Mr. Obasanjo prayed for comfort for all those left behind by Mr. Adeniji and for his soul to rest in perfect peace.
Born July 22, 1934 in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, Mr. Adeniji had a degree in history and joined the Nigerian Foreign Service in July 1960. He served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Nigerian embassies in Washington, D.C., Freetown, Sierra Leone, and Accra, Ghana and retired from service in 1991 after serving as the Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In March 2008, Mr. Adeniji headed negotiations in Kenya related to that country’s political crisis, following the departure of the previous head negotiator, Kofi Annan.
In addition, he served on the Commission of Eminent Persons on The Role of the IAEA to 2020 and Beyond, chaired by Ernesto Zedillo, whose report Reinforcing the Global Nuclear Order for Peace and Prosperity was launched in June 2008.