Nigeria has lost a career diplomat and a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olu Adeniji. He was 83 years at death.
Adeniji was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2003 to 2006 under the Obasanjo Presidency, taking over from Alhaji Sule Lamido who served from 1999 to 2003.
Ambassador Adeniji would be best remembered for being the foreign affairs officer who drafted the speech titled ‘Africa Has Come of Age’ and which the late General Murtala Mohammed read to the then Organisation of African Unity, (OAU) in January 1976, a few weeks before he was gunned down in an abortive coup.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo provides what might be the best account of how it happened in one of his books, most likely Not My Will. He said when he took the draft to Murtala, the then Head of State got agitated as he read through and dramatically announced how it had to be him going to read it to the extraordinary summit in Addis Ababa, thereby closing Obasanjo’s chance to have represented the country as originally planned. Obasanjo joked in the said book how Adeniji’s brilliance was his own loss of the opportunity.
In other words, the speech was a statement on the overarching political consciousness of the typical Nigerian diplomat in those days. May his soul rest in peace!