HLF-Emeka Anyaoku Life-Time Award as Nigeria’s Outstanding International Icon
oluyemi adeniji

His Excellency, Ambassador Oluyemi Adeniji was born in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State on July 22, 1934. He attended Ijebu-Ode Grammar School; Nigerian College of Arts, Science & Technology; and University of Ibadan. He holds the B.A. Honours degree in History and several other qualifications in international studies.

A career diplomat with over four decades’ cognate experience, Ambassador Adeniji served Nigeria and the international community in many strategic capacities. He joined the Foreign Service in July 1960, and held positions in the Ministry’s headquarters and abroad. Among these, he was:

  • Minister in Nigeria’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.
  • Ambassador to Austria.
  • Ambassador to Switzerland.
  • Permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva.
  • Ambassador to France.
  • Director-General [Permanent Secretary], Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He retired from full the Federal public service in 1994.

Between July 2003 and June 2006, Ambassador Adeniji served as Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. The highly-respected ‘Negotiator par Excellence’ achieved a decent balance in the diplomatic postings of career & ‘non-career’ officers, and headed a number of delegations that helped restore Nigeria’s credibility in the comity of nations. He was actively involved in Nigeria’s de-listing from the financial blacklist countries; strengthening of ties with regional blocs; increasing concerted actions by ECOWAS member-States; and formation of the African Strategic Peace Research Group. Many Nigerians, who observed him direct the Executive Council of the 5th Session of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, were overcome with a rare sense of national pride and dignity. He displayed the kind of soft power that is endearing to all, even as he acted firmly but sensitively against belligerent colleagues. He subsequently served as Minister of Interior.

In early March 2008, he was appointed Session Chair of the Eminent African Personalities Panel to oversee negotiations to resolve Kenya’s political crisis.  In the same vein, he was Special Envoy of the African Union Chairperson for the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan.

In the United Nations system, Ambassador Adeniji served as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative & Head of the UN Peacemaking Mission in the Central African Republic, with the rank of an Under-Secretary-General. He was the first Nigerian to head such a mission.

He was also the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative & Head of the Peacemaking Mission in Sierra Leone – thus heading the largest UN mission in history. He held that position for about four years; and at a critical stage in the peace-making & peace-keeping process in the war-ravaged country. Indeed, the success of that mission was worth the investment of the UN and the commitment of the accomplished diplomat and his team.

Ambassador Adeniji also variously served as a:

n    Trustee, UNESCO Prize for Peace Education.

n    Member, UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament.

n    Trustee, UN Institute for Disarmament.

n    Core Group Member, Nuclear Non-Proliferation programme.

n    Member, Expert Group on the African Union Conflict Resolution Mechanism.

n    Consultant to UNESCO.

n    Consultant to UNDP on Governance in Africa, which formed the basis of the Annual African Governance Conference.

A highly-versatile diplomat and adept in multi-lateralism, he is widely-acknowledged as an expert in Disarmament and International Security. His proposal led to the creation of a UN Fellowship Programme in Disarmament, which has since trained over 500 diplomats across the world. He also chaired many international fora, including the 1st UN Conference on Inhumane Weapons and the UN General Assembly 2nd Special Session on Disarmament.

The author of the highly-acclaimed “Essay on Nigerian Foreign Policy, Governance & International Security” also served as Co-Chairman of an International Group of Diplomats and Academicians to study the burning issue of the global circulation of Conventional Weapons. In the same vein, he was Consultant to the international Peace Academy and a Senior Associate of the University of Lancaster, U.K and the Development Centre, Stadan.

A Commander of the Order of the Niger and a recipient of the Nigerian National Productivity Award, Ambassador Adeniji has been honoured severally within and outside the country.

He is happily married, with children, to Mrs. Margaret Olubunmi Adeniji.


Ladies and gentlemen, we present His Excellency, Ambassador Oluyemi Adeniji for the “HLF-Emeka Anyaoku Life-Time Award as Nigeria’s Outstanding International Icon”.


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