By Paul Ejime |
Amidst the Coronavirus global devastation, Africa has lost an illustrious son in the person of Togo’s Édouard Kodjovi, popularly known as Edem Kodjo. He was the 3rd Foreign Minister of Togo under the late President Gnassingbé Eyadéma and the 4th Secretary General of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was replaced by the African Union (AU) in 2002.
A seasoned politician and diplomat, Edem Kodjo and Nigeria’s late Prof. Adebayo Adedeji, the Economic Development and Reconstruction Minister under former Military leader Gen. Yakubu Gowon, after the civil war, were the two prominent foot soldiers that led the ground work behind the formation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in May 1975.
Having received their marching orders from their respective leaders, both men pushed the diplomatic buttons and undertook the shuttles that culminated in the signing of the famous Treaty of Lagos on 28th May 1975, by West African leaders.
But they never stopped there. They took their services beyond the West African region. While Adedeji moved on to head the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) as its longest serving Executive Secretary, Kodjo rose to be become the 4th Secretary General of the OAU 1978-83.
Both men worked hand in hand with other pan-Africanists to advance the cause of Africa’s development and post-independence repositioning.
Prof Adedeji passed on 25th April 2018, in his hometown, Ijebu Ode, western Nigeria, while Edem Kodjo died in Paris, France on 11th April 2020, aged 82.
May their souls and the souls of the faithful departed, rest in perfect peace!
The greatest tribute Africans owe their departed great sons and daughters is to immortalise their legacies of pan-Africanist values and selfless service to lift the continent and people from the present pervasive poverty, hunger, deprivation, backwardness, mismanagement, corruption and underdevelopment.