Joy Ogwu, Bolaji Akinyemi: Where are they now?

These Nigerians whose services are still being clamoured for are no longer in public domain. ELEOJO IDACHABA writes on where the two former international technocrats and a former deputy governor are now

Joy Ogwu

Professor Joy Ogwu is someone that can be aptly described as a core foreign affairs technocrat. She has held several positions that bother on international affairs in the past. For example, she was a one-time director general of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), foreign affairs minister and Nigeria’s former permanent representative to the United Nations (UN). She began her career as a lecturer with the National War College (NWC) in Lagos before she moved to the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) in Jos. As a woman who was in a foremost position in her distinguished career, Ogwu became a voice for women development, human rights and role model.

In the history of Nigeria, she is the first woman to hold the position of permanent representative to the UN. She became president of UN Security Council in July 2010 through October 2011. She was also the former president of the executive board of the UN Women Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. The last known public appointment of this Delta state-born technocrat, who is in her late 70s, was as Nigeria’s permanent representative to the UN. While receiving the Emeka Anyaoku-Life-Time Achievement Award as Nigeria’s Outstanding International Icon,’ the Hallmark of Labour Foundation, described her as, “An accomplished scholar, diplomat, administrator, professor of Political Science & International Relations who has served Nigeria and the international community with quiet dignity and a sense of mission in several strategic capacities and with commendable results.”

At a reception for Small Island States hosted by her during the clamour in support of Nigeria’s candidature for a non-permanent seat at the Security Council for 2010-2011, Ogwu in her welcome address to the ambassadors from those island states, said, “Nigeria at independence enunciated its principles which were also in consonance with the principles established by the founders of the United Nations in 1945. We have not deviated from those principles in our foreign policy; we were taught to enhance them especially in the areas of internal peace and stability.”

She is someone who has had the rare privilege of serving Nigeria in the UN twice and in both capacities, she left behind an imprint that demonstrated the leadership skills of Nigerians when given any international assignment. She has, however, been quiet of late either due to age or retirement, but, according to analysts, this woman still has a lot to offer Nigeria.

Joel Afolabi Ogundeji

Chief Joel Afolabi Ogundeji was the governor deputy to Dr Bukola Saraki, then Kwara state governor for eight years (2003 -2011). Both were elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). While serving as Saraki’s deputy, Chief Ogundeji was everywhere in the media and had the ample opportunity to represent his boss at the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) countless times. He made friends across boards and was so close to some of his colleagues during his time.

Chief Ogundeji, a member of The Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), is an elder in the church. He is also a prominent son of Iwo-Isin in Isin local government area of Kwara state.

He made frantic efforts to enter the Senate in 2011 like his boss, Saraki, however, his ambition was frustrated and he was unable to clinch a senatorial ticket to represent Kwara South Senatorial District. Though till day, he is still a member of the PDP, he is seems to be into political oblivion as far as Kwara and national politics are concerned.

Bolaji Akinyemi

Professor Bolaji Akinyemi is another Nigerian technocrat whose imprint on the international scene is same as that of Prof Joy Ogwu. Akinyemi, an indigene of Ilesha in the present Osun state, is a professor of Political Science. He was appointed minister of external affairs by former President Ibrahim Ibrahim Babangida in 1985. It was while he was in that capacity that he started what is now known as Technical Aids Corps (TAC) through which many Nigerians had the opportunity of engaging in volunteer works abroad. The scheme, to date has remained one of the star projects of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs designed to promote the country’s image and status as a major contributor to Third World and particularly African development.

As minister, Akinyemi headed numerous Nigerian delegations to international organisations like the United Nations General Assembly, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), Non-Aligned Movement Council of Ministers, among others. His last known public appointment was in 2007 when late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua appointed him as member of the electoral reform committee. During the Abacha regime, Akinyemi joined the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), a pressure group formed to challenge that administration. Just before the last presidential elections, he expressed concern over the restlessness in the land.

He said: “I write as a former member of the Electoral Reform Committee, as the former deputy chairman of the 2014 National Conference, as a former foreign minister and as the originator of the peace process before the 2015 presidential election. Since I have been monitoring elections in Nigeria, I cannot remember any elections that filled me with so much dread and trepidation as these forthcoming elections. Not even the riotous 1965 federal elections and we all know what that led to.

“As a scholar in International Relations, I cannot but bring to the attention of Nigerians the significance of the latest development in Venezuela where the international community, under the United States, has accorded recognition to the opposition leader as the alternative president as their reaction to what it perceives as a flawed election.

“This is promoting regime change by another route. This is the beginning not the end of the Venezuelan nightmare. Nigeria should, by all means, avoid a repetition of the Venezuelan nightmare.” Like Ogwu, many analysts are of the opinion that the advice of this international technocrat is still highly invaluable.

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