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A year ago, Nigeria and Africa lost one of their most brilliant and resourceful scholars in the circumstances of Professor Adebayo Adedeji. This country could have done better considering the creativity and ideas he generated in the academia and government.
We first met in Harvard in the early 1960s before he left for further studies in the UK. When next we met he was teaching at the University of Ife while I lectured in the University of Ibadan. The civil war changed all that as we became government functionaries. In this capacity, he played a big role in the building of the East-West Road, which I hope to highlight here. But space will not permit me to also detail how in a single day he approved the establishment of the Universities of Port Harcourt, Sokoto, Kano, Maiduguri and Ilorin.
Post-civil war, Nigeria was in a hurry to develop as General Yakubu Gowon rolled out a national Five-Year Development Plan. On the priority list were Trunk A interstate roads linking up capitals, seaports and airports. The man entrusted with this plan was Adedeji, Federal Commissioner for Economic Development.
Commander Alfred Diete-Spiff, pioneer governor of Rivers State, also came up with Rivers Five-Year Development Plan as component of the national plan. As his Commissioner for Finance, 1967-1973, and joint Commissioner for Ministries of Economic Development and Reconstruction, and Information, 1973-1975; I implemented this plan. Manning similar ministries meant Adedeji and I worked together.
Originally, I conceived the East-West Road to be limited within Rivers from our boundary with South-Eastern State to that with Mid-Western State. The aim was to open the young state for massive development without leaving any community behind. But when I suggested the project to the great Commander Diete-Spiff, he asked if we had … Read More...