President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday joined other world leaders in mourning the late former secretary general of the United Nations (UN), Kofi Annan, who passed on yesterday at the age of 80. The career diplomat died in hospital in the Swiss city of Bern. He had been living near Geneva for several years. His foundation made the announcement in a statement issued yesterday morning. “It is with immense sadness that the Annan family and the Kofi Annan Foundation announce that Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away peacefully on Saturday 18th August after a short illness,” the statement noted. President Buhari commiserated with the government and people of Ghana over the death of Annan.
A statement issued yesterday by his special adviser media and publicity, Femi Adesina, noted that President Buhari who called President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana from London said all Nigerians and ECOWAS member countries share in the deep loss, considering the strategic influence of the former scribe in global affairs and his vision for the repositioning of the West Coast and Africa. “As the first elected staff of the United Nations to lead the world organisation and first African to win the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the United Nations, the President noted that Annan’s humility, nobility and love for humanity set him apart for global greatness, achieving recognition and commendation for the reform of the United Nations’ bureaucracy and multiple interventions to bring peace to the world”, Buhari stated.
According to Adesina, President Buhari said Annan’s origin and home will always be traced to Ghana, but his exceptional leadership roles, humanitarian spirit and contributions to global peace and development will remain indelible in the history of the entire world, especially the efforts to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa and launch of the UN Global Compact. Adesina said the president sent condolences to the wife of the diplomat, Nane Maria Annan and his family members, staff of the United Nations and the global organisations he was heading, like The Elders, which was founded by Nelson Mandela. “President Buhari prays that the almighty God will comfort his family and all his loved ones”, the statement further noted. Similarly, Senate President Bukola Saraki described the demise of Kofi Annan as the end of a golden era in global politics and international relations. In a statement signed on his behalf by his special adviser on media and publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, described the late Annan as the quintessential African diplomat on the global plane and a citizen of the world, who deployed his vast capacities to tackle intractable global challenges ranging from hunger, conflict, epidemic and restoration of peace in war-torn countries.
He noted that many developing nations benefitted immensely from the humanitarian efforts of the late Annan during lifetime as he was able to raise the concerns and challenges confronting hitherto forgotten peoples and nations in the Assembly of world powers. “Annan was the quintessential African Diplomat who bestrode the world stage with dignity, finesse, admirable restraint and wisdom. He was a diplomat’s diplomat. He dedicated his immense expertise, experience and energies to resolving some of the world’s most pressing problems and conflicts, including most recently, the Rohingya refugee crisis. He was a citizen of the world”, Saraki added. On his part, the president of the late Annan’s home country, Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, yesterday declared a week of national mourning in memory of Mr Annan. He said the government and people of Ghana were saddened by the news of the death of “one of our greatest compatriots”.
Akufo-Addo described Annan as a “consummate international diplomat and highly respected former Secretary General of the United Nations.
“He brought considerable renown to our country by this position and through his conduct and comportment in the global arena. He was an ardent believer in the capacity of the Ghanaian to chart his or her own course onto the path of progress and prosperity.”
Similarly, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria praised Annan for his tremendous work at the UN, which earned him a joint Nobel Peace Prize with the United Nations in 2001”, he added.
In a statement, current UN secretary general, António Guterres said, “Kofi Annan was a guiding force for good. It is with profound sadness that I learned of his passing. In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organization into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination”.
Also mourning the late Annan is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, who took to her twitter handle to tweet: “Sad to hear of the death of Kofi Annan. A great leader and reformer of the UN, he made a huge contribution to making the world he has left a better place than the one he was born into. My thoughts and condolences are with his family.”
Former Australia Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, also tweeted, “The world has lost a great leader today. Kofi initiated the Millenium Development Goals. He did everything possible to prevent the Iraq War. He spoke for our common humanity. I will miss him too as a dear friend, colleague and source of encouragement.”
Also, the Elders, an independent group of global leaders working for peace and human rights, said they were “shocked and deeply saddened” by the death of their colleague and chairman, Kofi Annan, at age 80 after a short illness.
In a statement, the Elders called the former UN secretary-general and Nobel Peace Prize winner “a voice of great authority and wisdom in public and private.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi also tweeted: “We express our profound sorrow at the passing away of Nobel Laureate and former UNSG Mr. Kofi Annan. The world has lost not only a great African diplomat and humanitarian but also a conscience keeper of international peace and security”. A frontline political party, India National Congress said in a statement: “We’re extremely saddened by the demise of Kofi Annan, an exemplary humanitarian, a nobel laureate & a champion of peace around the world. The world will miss his presence, our thoughts & prayers are with his family.” Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International, tweeted: “Kofi Annan never stopped fighting for justice, peace & dignity for all, knowing this struggle is a marathon not a sprint. He was warm, compassionate & intelligent, exuding dignity & grace. So privileged to have worked with him to tackle climate change, poverty & gender equality.”
Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi tweeted: “Shocked by passing away of fellow Nobel laureate& good friend @KofiAnnan. World has lost one of the tallest statesmen, true internationalist & great human being. I was privileged to meet him several times, discuss & be inspired. Recently drove together in London&met in WEF. My tribute!” The late Kofi Annan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for helping to revitalise the international body, during a period that coincided with the Iraq War and the HIV/Aids pandemic. Annan described his greatest achievement as the Millennium Development Goals, which – for the first time – set global targets on issues such as poverty and child mortality. However, Mr Annan was not immune from criticism. His critics blamed him for the UN’s failure to halt the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s when he was head of the organisation’s peacekeeping operations. Later, after the US-led invasion of Iraq, he and his son were accused of being involved in the “oil for food corruption scandal” that led some to call for his resignation, though he was later exonerated. In an interview with the BBC’s HardTalk to mark his 80th birthday in April, Mr Annan acknowledged the UN’s shortcomings, saying it “can be improved, it is not perfect but if it didn’t exist you would have to create it.
“I am a stubborn optimist, I was born an optimist and will remain an optimist,” he added.
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