AFRICAN CARIBBEAN CENTER
BY DR. LEONARD MADU.
Nashville,TN- Nigeria’s former Ambassador to the United States, Dr. Hassan Adamu has been appointed as Chancellor of Enugu State University of Science and Technology. His appointment is a step in the right direction by the government of Enugu State and helps in the promotion of the unity and territorial integrity of Nigeria. It is a statement about the need for the peaceful coexistence of all ethnic groups in Nigeria. It also brings the much needed international experience at the apex of ESUT leadership.
Who is Hassan Adamu? Hassan Adamu was born in the town of Yola, Adamawa state, on May 25, 1940. He studied in Nigerian schools before travelling to Britain where he earned a graduate degree in economics and transport studies at the University of London. After working with the Nigerian Ports Authority from 1966 to 1968, Adamu joined the Northern Nigerian Development Corporation as general manager. He was a founding member of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and was elected the the first chairman of its Kano branch in 1972. He became chairman of the North Eastern Zone in 1985. He became the national president of the Manufacturers Association in 1990. Before becoming Ambassador to the United States in 1996, he sat on the board of directors of sixteen(16), private companies and held the chairmanship of eight(8) others.
He represented the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria as part of presidential delegations to France, Germany and Sudan. He was also Minister of Power and Steel in 1993. In 1998 when i asked him what he will do when Obasanjo comes to power, he responded, “if he allows me, I will like to create a Ministry of Environment and head it for a while”. Indeed one was created and he became the first Minister in 1999. So it will not be presumptuos to say that Hassan Adamu is the “father” of Nigeria’s Ministry of Environment. Later he became the head of NAFCON, state owned fertilizer company and then, chairman of the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation(NDIC). A friend and confidant of current President Goodluck Jonathan, Hassan Adamu has accompanied him on numerous internationl travels.
When he arrived in Washington as Ambassador, things were indeed very bleak for Nigeria. Relations between Nigeria and the United States were very strained due to the human rights violations and lax drug interdiction efforts of the Abacha regime. Nigeria was regarded as a pariah state and no U.S officials or officials of Western governments will deal with the Nigerian Embassy or the Ambassador.
However, Hassan Adamu moved quickly to change all that. A man of immense charm, ebullience, eloquence, decisiveness and gregariousnes, he worked tirelessly to cultivate both official Washington and outside the beltway. In a short time, he became not only the most popular African Ambassador in Washington, but the darling of the diplomatic community. Due to the fact that his commercial orientation shaped his approach to diplomacy, Hassan Adamu became the pre-eminent exponent of business diplomacy in Washington. He visited almost all the fifty(50) states, meeting with local politicians, business persons, academics, and Nigerian citizens, while drumming up businees and investments for Nigeria. At an economic summitt I organized, he witnessed a business demonstration by the Tennessee Valley Infrastructural Group (TVIG) of Chattannoga, which impressed him tremendously. He immediately invited them to Yola, and in a few months they were in Yola. That’s vintage Hassan Adamu-quick and decisive.
A nationalist as well as an internationalist, Hassan Adamu is a good friend of Haiti’s former President Jean Bertrand Aristide and former Liberian President Ruth Perry. As a devout but moderate Muslim, he believes in the equality of all religions and of peaceful coexistence amongst nations and ethnic groups. A compassionate man with a deep sense of fairplay, Adamu is a consumate philantropist dispensing help to all and sundry. A man who values friendship and loyalty, Adamu knows knows how to take care of his friends and is very supportive of other peoples aspirations, regardless of where they come from. A billionaire who made his money the old fashioned way, he never accepted a dime as salary from the Nigerian government during his stint as Ambassador in Washington. When he travelled, he not only paid for himself, but for all the diplomatic staff traveling with him. Washington had never seen an envoy like that before. The African Ambassadors told me it was like watching a traveler from the fourth dimension who operated on a planet different from their own. When I asked him why he won’t accept salary from the Nigerian government, he responded “when Abacha asked me to take this job, I gave him two conditions-I will not accept any salary and that I will communicate with him directly not through anybody. I already have enough money to last me many lifetimes”.
A man who believes fervently that education is the key to nation building, he also has a nose for history and how to seize an ocassion. I happen to have hosted him twice in Nashville, Tennessee during his tenure as Ambassador. On one winter afternoon as I drove with him to an event I had organized for him, I ran two ideas before him- a professorial chair at Tennessee State University and an invitation for Dr. and Mrs. Hefner (President of Tennessee State) to attend President Obasanjo’s inauguration . He immediately bought the ideas and authorized me to move on both as expeditiously as possible. In three weeks all the necessary formalities were completed and he flew down to Nashville for the official covocation. Today, there is a Hassan Adamu Distinguished Professorship Chair at Tennessee State University. This is historical, because it is the first and only chair named after an African official at any American University. After the ceremonies, he said “this is a great ocassion not only for Nigeria, but for the entire African continent. I will also pursue a partnership arrangement between TSU and University of Yola”. And of course, he flew Dr. and Mrs. Hefner to Nigeria as promised, all expenses paid from his pocket.
If anybody wants to know why his appointment as Chancellor of Enugu State University is a masterstroke by the Enugu State Government, they do not need to look any further. A well deserved appointment for detribalized super patriot.
DR. LEONARD MADU
AFRICAN CARIBBEAN CENTER AND
THE AFRICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE,
Category: Press Release