Five ways late Nigerian ambassador to the U.S defined diplomacy
Nigerians all over the world, and those who worked closely with Ambassador Adebowale Adefuye on African and Nigerian issues in the U.S, mourn one of the most honourable Diplomats in the history of Nigeria. He passed away on Thursday, August 27, 2015, in Washington DC.
His appointment as Nigeria’s ambassador to the US in 2010 will always remain a success story under former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration as he made a significant impact on US/Nigeria relations.
Diplomacy is generally adopted by a nation for the many purposes, these include ideological resolves, national self-interest, a means of securing a status as one of the most favoured countries or to bolster its economy by increased access to resources. Ambassador Adebowale Adefuye not only touched on all these aspects, but in doing so, set himself apart as one of the greatest African Diplomats of the 21st century.
The former history professor, helped to persuade the U.S. to remove Nigeria from the government’s “country of interest” terrorism watch list. Nigeria was placed on the list after Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit on 25, December 2009.
He also his put diplomatic skills into good use being highly respected by top State Department officials. In 2012, he embarked on a mission to help thousands of Nigerians wishing to apply for US Visas by holding several meetings with the State Department to petition the reciprocity visa rule which would increase visa validity to five years.
After successfully hosting another forum on Agriculture in April of 2012 to revive Nigeria’s past status as West Africa’s breadbasket, he went further to host another forum to bolster Nigeria’s infrastructural sector. The conference, themed “Building the Infrastructure for Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020″ was aimed at placing Nigeria among the top 20 largest world economies by the year 2020, with a GDP of US $900 billion.
In November last year, there had been a diplomatic fallout between Nigeria and the United States over Nigeria’s claim that the US has been hampering, rather than supporting, its fight against terrorism. However Nigeria’s Ambassador, despite his criticism of the US, also made it clear the country wanted to maintain close ties with US without allowing this incident cast a shadow over the growing business partnership.
Nigeria has a history of friendly but complicated relations with the US. While the former has long-held suspicions over America’s desire to dictate its domestic affairs, especially in areas such as gay and reproductive rights; the latter continues to hold deep reservations over human rights and governance standards in Nigeria. However in the midst of escalating US-Nigeria tensions, Adefuye remained a stern defender of Nigeria while tackling critics of Africa’s largest economy in the US.
The late diplomat was an indigene of Ijebu in Ogun state. He studied at the University of Ibadan where he earned his first degree in 1969 as well as a PhD in history in 1973.
Adefuye was also awarded with Fulbright Fellowship, an accomplishment which enabled him do research work at Columbia University, the University of North Florida and the University of Florida in Gainesville. He had served as Nigeria’s ambassador to Jamaica from 1987 to 1991 and was also appointed Nigeria’s Deputy High Commissioner in the UK after which he left to work as a Deputy Director at the Commonwealth for fourteen years.
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