Prince Emeka Odukomaiya in this piece informs that former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku’s new book will be presented to the public on Sunday.
WHAT is the Commonwealth of Nations? When and where was it inaugurated and by whom? Are there any obligations and advantages inherent in membership of the organisation?

Answers to the above questions and many clarifications on the basic plank of Nigeria’s foreign policy since the country gained political independence from Britain in 1960 will be provided to the congregation of Archbishop Vining Memorial Church Cathedral, Ikeja, on Sunday, July 14, 2013, at a lecture beginning at 4.00 pm.

Emeka Anyaoku
Emeka Anyaoku

On hand to give the lecture will be one of Africa’s best-known international civil servants and the first African Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, 80-year-old, Chief Eleazar Chukwuemeka Anyaoku.

Born at Obosi, in Anambra State, Chief Anyaoku was educated at the University College, Ibadan, where he studied as a college scholar, graduating with a London University honours degree in classics in 1959. Three years later, he married Miss Ebunola Olubunmi Solanke; the union is blessed with four children.

Chief Anyaoku was Nigeria’s External Affairs Minister in 1983 before a military junta seized power from President Shehu Shagari at the end of that year. Among the highlights of his 34-year service to the Commonwealth of 54 nations was his role in making the Commonwealth an active agent for promoting democracy and human rights and his seminal role in the processes leading to peace and democracy in Zimbabwe, Namibia and, in particular, South Africa.

International exposure

Chief Anyaoku has had extensive international exposure and service. Among many positions held by him are: distinguished visiting fellow at the Centre for the Study of Global Governance at the London School of Economics (2000/2002); president of the Royal Commonwealth Society with headquarters in London (2000/2006); president of the Royal Africa Society with headquarters in London (2000/2007); international president of the World Wide Fund for Nature with headquarters in Switzerland and operations in over 100 countries (2001/2009).

He is currently the chairman of the Presidential Advisory Council on International Relations in Nigeria; a trustee of the British Museum and patron of the Nigerian Museum; chairman, Orient Petroleum Resources Plc in Nigeria.  Besides, he has received decorations from Nigeria (CON, CFR and a recipient of one of 50 special awards to mark Nigeria’s 50th independence anniversary), and the highest national civilian honours of Cameroon, Lesotho, Madagascar, Namibia, Republic of South Africa and Trinidad & Tobago’s Trinity Cross (TC) as well as an honorary knight of the Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) from the Queen of England in 2000. The freedom of the City of London was also bestowed on him in 1998.

In 2003, the University of London established a professorial chair in his name, the Emeka Anyaoku Professor of Commonwealth Studies at its Institute of Commonwealth Studies. He is a holder of 32 honorary doctorate degrees from universities in Britain, Canada, Ghana, Nigeria, the Republic of Ireland, Switzerland, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Groundbreaking achievements

His publications include The Missing Headlines (by Liverpool University Press in 1997); his memoirs: The Inside Story of the Modern Commonwealth (by Evans Brothers Limited in 2004); and The Racial Factor in International Politics (by the Nigerian Institute for International Affairs in 1977). A biography of Emeka Anyaoku, The Eye of Fire, written by the Canadian author, Phyllis Johnson, was published by Africa World Press Inc. and reprinted in Nigeria by Spectrum Books Limited in 2000.

Among his many ground-breaking achievements, Emeka Anyaoku, as Commonwealth Secretary-General, was the first African Chief Executive of a global inter-govermnental organisation, long before Boutros Boutros-Ghali and Kofi Annan at the United Nations; the first African international president of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), an office previously held by Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh; the first African to have a professorial chair named after him in a British university; and the first African trustee of the British Museum.

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