President Muhammadu Buhari has led notable Nigerians to pour encomiums on former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, who also served briefly as Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs under the Shehu Shagari administration, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, as he turned 90 on Wednesday.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi; Governor of Delta State and Vice Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Ifeanyi Okowa, among others, extolled the virtues of the elder statesman, describing him as a perfect gentleman, a true diplomat and worthy ambassador of not just Nigeria, but Africa, as a whole.
In a letter he personally signed, President Buhari stated: “It gives me great joy and delight to warmly rejoice with a seasoned diplomat and administrator, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, on his 90th birthday, January 18, 2023.
“I acknowledge the worthy contributions you have made to the development of the country, starting out as a young Foreign Service Officer, and reaching the pinnacle of your career as Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, through vision and diligence, and consistently projecting Nigeria as a great nation.
“Thank you for your statesmanship, and for using your extensive network of international friends to support the country’s efforts in deepening good governance, democracy and sustainable development.
“As you hit the milestone of 90, we give glory to God for the grace of longevity, in good health and sound mind, and rejoice with you, your family and loved ones.”
In his submission, former President Obasanjo described Chief Anyaoku, as a perfect diplomat who served the Commonwealth diligently. He stated that Anyaoku is “a great Nigerian. Emeka Anyaoku is a diplomat, orator, conciliator, mediator, negotiator, peacemaker, a parliator and a special gift of God to Nigeria, Africa, the Commonwealth and the world.”
On his part, the All Progressives Congress Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, sent a special congratulatory and goodwill message to Chief Anyaoku on the occasion of his 90th birthday.
In his goodwill message to the international statesman and distinguished Nigerian, Tinubu said Chief Anyaoku is a source of pride and joy to Nigeria, as an excellent career diplomat and elder statesman.
The APC presidential candidate praised the contributions of Chief Anyaoku to national development and global political and economic order through his leadership of the Commonwealth of Nations.
“It is noteworthy that during his time as Secretary-General, Chief Anyaoku led the 54 countries of the Commonwealth with distinction, courage and integrity.”
For representing Nigeria on a global stage for many years without blemish, Tinubu said Anyaoku has become a national hero and an icon of public service and diplomacy, whose service records will serve as a beacon for the present and future generations.
“I specially congratulate Chief Emeka Anyaoku on his 90th birthday celebration. Chief Anyaoku is an international statesman, a distinguished Nigerian who served the global community as the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations.
“Chief Anyaoku is an icon of public service whose records of impeccable contributions to Nigeria’s development and diplomacy deserve a special place in the archives for generations to come.
“At the Commonwealth Office where he made his name as an international statesman, Chief Anyaoku represented Nigeria well and for this we are grateful to him as a country and people.
“Having reached the venerable club of nonagenarians, I join family, friends and associates of Chief Anyaoku around the world to wish him happy birthday, good health and more grace to live for many more years to come.”
The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, congratulated Chief Anyaoku on the feat as well.
Obi, in a goodwill message he personally signed and made available to the media on Wednesday, lauded Anyaoku’s commitment to his fatherland and prayed to God to grant him many years of continuous service to humanity.
“It is a thing of joy for me to join your family, well-wishers, as well as your national and international friends in celebrating your landmark 90th birthday today, the 18th of January, 2023.
“I recall with exceeding joy, your long period of service to Nigeria and the international community which you discharged with the highest level of commitment and patriotism.
“As the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, you presented the image and identity of a true Nigerian, championing the cause of good governance and promoting the entrenchment of democracy throughout the Commonwealth and the world at large.
“I recall too, how you fought doggedly for the return of democracy in Nigeria in 1999 and for the military to disengage from governance, deploying your position as the Secretary-General of the influential British Commonwealth of Nations. Nigeria owes Your Excellency a debt of gratitude.
“I have no doubt in my mind that Nigeria still needs your experience and invaluable contributions for her to navigate the forthcoming elections and other governance issues challenging the country.
“Once again, congratulations on this joyous occasion. It is my prayer that the Almighty God continues to keep you healthy, agile and strong in the years ahead,” the goodwill message read in part.
Governor of Delta State and Vice-Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, equally congratulated Anyaoku, describing him as a diplomat extraordinary.
Okowa, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, in Asaba, said Nigeria benefited immensely from Anyaoku’s unblemished services to Nigeria, Africa and the Commonwealth, having served for 34 years in the diplomatic community before being elected as Secretary-General in 1989.
He described the nonagenerian as a diplomat extraordinaire, epitome of selflessness and statesmanship, and prayed that God would raise more leaders in Anyaoku’s mould in Nigeria’s political and socio-economic firmament.
“On behalf of my family, the government and people of Delta, I felicitate with you, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, on your 90th birth anniversary.
“As a great patriot and elder statesman, you have made significant contributions to the growth and stability of our nation, Africa and the Commonwealth of Nations through your selfless service to humanity.
“As Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, you displayed an uncommon wisdom and irrepressible courage in your service and was very instrumental to the role of the Commonwealth in the liberation of Southern African States from racist colonialism and conflicts.
“You contributed actively to the Trans-African struggle for liberation which culminated in South Africa, Zimbabwe and other states in the Southern region of Africa becoming free and independent states.
“As you celebrate your 90th birth anniversary, I join your family, friends, well-wishers and Ndigbos worldwide to thank Almighty God for your life and to pray that He continues to bless you with robust health, greater wisdom, guidance, protection and enduring provisions,” Okowa stated.
Chief Emeka Anyaoku, GCVO, CFR, CON (born 18 January 1933), is a Nigerian diplomat of Igbo descent. He was the third Commonwealth Secretary-General. Born in Obosi, Anyaoku was educated at Merchants of Light School, Oba, and attended the University College of Ibadan, then a college of the University of London, from which he obtained an honours degree in Classics as a College Scholar. Aside from his international career, Chief Anyaoku continues to fulfill the duties of his office as Ichie Adazie of Obosi, a traditional Ndichie chieftainship.