Remembering Adefuye, ex-Ambassador to U.S.
ON Wednesday September 2, 2015 the diplomatic community in Washington, together with several dignitaries, family, friends and well wishers gathered to witness a solemn event held in memory of an exemplary Nigerian patriot, erudite scholar and consummate diplomat as they paid tribute to an outstanding public servant – Ambassador Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye, whose sudden passing the week before, has left us all stunned.
Professor Ade Adefuye’s colourful diplomatic career, following equally distinguished academic attainment, had seen him serve as Deputy High Commissioner to the Court of St. James, in London; High Commissioner to Jamaica with accreditation to several other Caribbean countries, followed by his memorable service at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London and as a special envoy of that iconic organisation; before his last posting to Washington DC, as Ambassador, in 2009.
Several eminent persons and others with whom Ambassador Ade Adefuye warmly interacted over many decades, have already showered deserved encomiums on this dedicated Nigerian envoy, underlining his personal qualities, memorable achievements and significant contributions to national development and Nigeria’s relations abroad.
Notably, one such enduring legacy was through his role as an effective catalyst for strengthening the close and friendly ties between Nigeria and the United States. Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Ojo Maduekwe CFR, and Ambassador Adefuye were pivotal in establishing a new framework for enhanced relations with the United States through the Nigeria-U.S. Bi-National Commission.
I was privileged to have served with Professor Adefuye during a crucial period in our country’s recent history, between April 2010 and May 2011 when I was appointed Foreign Minister by then Acting President Jonathan. Nigeria had then been placed on the U.S. infamous terrorism watch list. It was to Professor Adefuye’s exclusive credit, that Nigeria was delisted as a country of interest, soon after I assumed office.
His erudition, passion and self-effacing humility despite his many enviable accomplishments are what drew me to him the most. These qualities shone brightly in his committed service to Nigeria.
A man of principle, integrity and immense diplomatic skill, who promoted and defended Nigeria with distinctive brilliance and panache, he was also a loving father and devoted husband to his beloved wife Shola, who undoubtedly complemented his work.
I feel privileged to have received the benefit of his guidance, counsel and to have enjoyed his warm friendship, even after I had returned to private life.
His sudden passing is indeed a tragic loss for our country.
• Ajumogobia (SAN) was Nigeria’s Foreign Minister between 2010 and 2011.