Gowon delighted over AIA inauguration, confers fellowship awards on inductees

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By Patrick Wemambu

Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon has expressed joy over the inauguration of the Academy of International Affairs (AIA), Nigeria at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja on Monday.

Describing the establishment of the body bringing together some of the nation’s brightest minds in international relations as highly commendable, the elder statesman was also full of praises for the convener/founder of the Academy.

He said; “I have also closely followed the illustrious career and intellectual journey of Prof. Akinyemi. In the realm of international relations and diplomacy, his brilliance, depth of knowledge, and insight into global trends are pivotal and unmatched.

Throughout the span of his public service till today, he has generously and courageously shared his insights for the betterment of our nation and the global audience, and sometimes at a cost to his standing and reputation, but he remains resolute and undoubted.”

While congratulating the honorees who he styled exceptional Nigerian citizens, the former Head of State took time to talk about three of those concerned from his generation. “I recall an encounter with Chief Philip Asiodu, then a much younger person in mid-1960s, as we prepared towards Nigeria’s Independence Celebration…His integrity and commitment to prudence during the preparation and consideration of the budgets for the Independence Celebrations, put a doubt to the question of the military participation in all the Independence Celebration activities,” he said, adding that the other two honorary awardees, Ambassador Abdullahi Atta and his sister, Ambassador Judith Atta, both esteemed members of his extended family, have made invaluable contributions to the nation in their respected fields.

The remarkable achievements of Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Mr. Tony Elumelu, Chief Mike Adenuga and Late Herbert Wigwe in the private sector were recognized and commended by the speaker. 24 fellows, 4 honorary members and 2 associate others were inducted into the Academy.

Addressing the issue of peace in West Africa, Gen. Gowon extolled the efforts of President Tinubu in heeding the call to keep ECOWAS united, especially with recent developments in the community. Reminiscing about his involvement in laying the foundation for the sub-regional body on May 28, 1975 with all the Heads of States and Presidents of 14 countries, alongside former President Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo and others, the elder statesman who doubled as chairman of the occasion said the establishment of AIA was timely at an era when Nigeria was visibly making all efforts to save ECOWAS.

He implored members of the Academy to strive to bring their wealth of experience to bear towards redeeming the country’s image abroad. “While there are several government agencies that are created to perform vital roles in formulating and implementing foreign policy, the wisdom and experience of private citizens with many years of foreign service are invaluable.

I therefore urge you Academy for International Affairs (AIA) to offer your services and collaborate with this and successive administrations to ensure that Nigeria’s rightful place as a global voice and leadership is secured at all times. I request the government, present and those to come in the future to consider and accept this proposal.”

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