For Prof. Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye
I FIRST met Ambassador Adefuye in Kingston in 1988 while he was Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Jamaica with concurrent accreditation to Belize and Haiti. I was immediately struck in a long discussion at dinner in his residence by his evident intellectual prowess and warm personality. A year later in Kuala Lumpur, the Prime Ministers of the countries to which he was accredited subsequently told me of the enthusiasm with which he had advocated support for my candidacy for the post of Commonwealth Secretary-General for which I competed against Malcolm Fraser, who had been Prime Minister of Australia for seven and half years.
Ambassador Adefuye not only effectively promoted Nigeria’s interests in the Caribbean region but also made an enduring impact in the countries to which he was accredited especially in Jamaica where he helped the authorities in the introduction and teaching of African history in their schools and colleges.
Ade Adefuye had had a brilliant academic career having been a Fulbright Scholar and having become Professor of History at the University of Lagos at the relatively young age of 38. He possessed, in abundance, attributes that can be said to be in short supply in our country today namely, integrity, unadulterated patriotism, and passionate commitment to the service of Nigeria and its citizens.
My next sustained interaction with Ade was in 1991 when he came to London as Nigeria’s Deputy High Commissioner to The Court of St James. On his return to Nigeria in 1993 at the end of his stint at the High Commission, Ade went back to the University of Lagos to resume his impactful professorship in the History Department.
In 1994, following a rigorous appointment process, Adefuye emerged at the top of the candidates from across several Commonwealth countries for the post of Deputy Director of the Strategic Planning and Evaluation Division in the Commonwealth Secretariat. After my retirement from the Commonwealth Secretariat in 2000, my successor, Sir Don McKinnon, a former Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand, quickly recognised the quality of Adefuye’s work and expanded his responsibilities to include serving as the Secretary-General’s peace envoy to trouble spots in several Commonwealth countries, especially in Africa and the Pacific. Adefuye continued to work in the Secretariat throughout the eight years of Don McKinnon’s secretary-generalship. On learning of Adefuye’s death, Sir Don McKinnon said: “What a shock to hear of Ade’s most untimely death. He truly was the peacemaker and a son of God. Clare and I send our heartfelt sympathy to all his family. No Secretary-General could have been better supported with the most experienced level of advice coupled with tons of integrity. And I would add a wonderful sense of humour. He will be missed with sadness by people throughout Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific”.
On leaving the Commonwealth Secretariat in 2008, Adefuye was invited by the then President of the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja to serve as his Advisor. It was from there that he reached the apogee of his diplomatic career in 2010 when he was appointed Nigeria’s Ambassador and Head of Mission to the United States of America.
In his little over five years in Washington, Ambassador Adefuye rendered exemplary service to Nigeria. He promoted with uncommon diplomatic skill and intense passion, the interests of Nigeria in the United States. He vastly improved the cordiality of the bilateral relations between Nigeria and the United States achieving for example, the establishment of a Bi-national Commission for active cooperation between our two countries. And he was throughout a stout defender of Nigeria, nay Africa, whenever it seemed to him that Nigeria and Africa were being unfairly criticised. Among his last major successes was his brilliant orchestration with U.S. officials of the arrangements for the widely judged successful state visit of President Buhari to Washington in July 2015.
As we mourn the passing of Ade Adefuye, I would urge his wife, Sola, and his children Bunmi, Tolu and Baba to whom he was so completely devoted as husband and father, to draw some comfort from the reactions to the news of his death by former colleagues and associates in all the five continents of the globe.
To give another sample of the reactions, Matthew Neuhaus, a former Australian Ambassador to Zimbabwe who had worked with Ade Adefuye in the Political Affairs Division (PAD) of the Commonwealth Secretariat, wrote inter alia as follows:
“Ade was a great friend and colleague in PAD, and the Commonwealth and Africa owe so much to him and his wisdom. He was a consummate diplomat, with a wonderful personality and a unique and very successful way of operating. He symbolised the best of Nigeria, and was sustained by an inspiring faith and generous good humour… His commitment to Commonwealth values was second to none. There are few people who could so easily engage both leaders and their people from the Solomons to Swaziland in seeking to build peace and justice. His good offices work in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific was outstanding and leaves a tremendous legacy”.
Those who were present at the well-attended celebration of the life of Ambassador Adefuye at the Nigerian Embassy in Washington on 3rd September 2015, reported that there were many tributes paid to him by the representatives of the State Department and members of the diplomatic community all of who extolled the impact Adefuye had made in the United States as Nigeria’s Ambassador, and also that there was an announcement that the Board of the Martin Luther King Jr International Service Awards, had resolved to dedicate their 25th Ceremony in January 2016 to Ade Adefuye.
To sum up I say, that here lies the body of a devoted family man who had an unshakeable faith in his Christian religion; a man who in every sense was a true lover and servant of humanity; an outstanding patriot with unalloyed commitment to his country; and an accomplished scholar and diplomat who brought great intellect and panache to Nigeria’s diplomatic representation abroad.
Fare thee well, Ambassador (Professor) Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye!
Adieu my Aburo!
And may your soul rest in perfect peace, Amen.
•Chief Anyaoku, former Commonwealth Secretary-General, delivered this Eulogy at the Christ Church Cathedral, Marina, Lagos on September 18, 2015.