By Eric Elezuo
It is not every day that spotlessly honest Nigerians walk the space of leadership within the country administrative atmosphere. Akinwunmi Adesina is one Nigerian who has left the footprint of achievements, nostalgia, accomplishment and determination in the sands of time.
Born to a Nigerian farmer in Ibadan, Oyo State, on February 6, 1960, Adesina attended a village school and graduated with a Bachelors in Agricultural Economics with First Class Honors from the University of Ife, Nigeria in 1981. He was basically the first student to be awarded this distinction by the university. He followed up his studies at Purdue University in Indiana, briefly returning to Nigeria in 1984 to get married.
Afterwards, he returned to school, obtaining his PhD (Agricultural Economics) in 1988 from Purdue, winning the Outstanding PhD Thesis for his research work in the bargain.
Adesina’s professional career kicked off proper in 1990, when he served as a Senior Economist at West African Rice Development Association (WARDA) in Bouaké, Ivory Coast. He served till 1995.
He worked at the Rockefeller Foundation since winning a fellowship from the Foundation as a senior scientist in 1988. From 1999 to 2003 he was the representative of the Foundation for the southern African area. And from 2003 until 2008, he was an Associate Director for food security.
In 2010, he was appointed Nigerian Agriculture Minister, a post he held till 2015 when the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan ended.
Adesina was named as Forbes African Man of the Year for his reform of Nigerian agriculture. He introduced more transparency into the fertiliser supply chain. He also said that he would give away mobile phones to farmers but this proved too difficult as a result of lack of mobile network in rural areas.
In 2010, United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon appointed him as one of 17 global leaders to spearhead the Millennium Development Goals.
On May 28, 2015, Adesina was elected the presumptive President of the African Development Bank. He began his tenure of the office on 1 September 2015. He is the eighth president in the organization’s history, and the first Nigerian to hold the post.
He launched a strategy based on energy, agriculture, industrialization, regional integration and bettering Africans’ lives. The Board of Executive Directors approved the reorganization of the structure around these five priorities.
In September 2016, Adesina was appointed by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to serve as member of the Lead Group of the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement.
In 2017, he was awarded 2017 World Food Prize. Upon receiving the prize on October 21, 2017. Adesina donated the $250,000 he received to the development of African youth in agriculture.
Adesina is not all work; he is very close to his God. While at Purdue University, he, his wife, along with another couple, started a Christian group called the African Student Fellowship. He and his wife Grace have two children, Rotimi and Segun.
As an Agricultural Economist, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina has been a leader in agricultural innovation for over 30 years. He has contributed greatly to food security in Africa, aimed at improving the lives of millions currently living in poverty, throughout the African continent. The Sunhak Committee acknowledges Dr. Akinwumi Adesina’s achievements in promoting Good Governance of Africa, which boosts Africa’s capacity to feed itself and transform its total economies for generating wealth for millions of rural and poor African farmers.
At the Cape Town International Convention Center, the Sunhak Peace Prize Committee announced him as a co-winner of the 2019 Laureates for the Sunhak Peace Prize, the other person is Waris Dirie, 53 year-old world-class supermodel and anti-FGM activist.
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina has been a leader in agricultural innovation in Africa for over 30 years, bringing great improvement to Africa’s food security. contributing to Africa’s dynamic growth. His leadership is building stepping-stones for Africa’s dynamic growth.
Chairman of the Sunhak Peace Prize Committee, Dr. Il Sik Hong, stated that “the Sunhak Peace Prize was established based upon the vision of “One Family Under God.” The 2019 Sunhak Peace Prize gives special attention to peace and human development in Africa.”
Dr. Hong added “in order for us to build an era of peace and coexistence in the 21st century, we want to encourage continuous development in Africa. Africa is a rising star and its growth will contribute global progress and development throughout the 21st century.”
The Sunhak Peace Prize honors individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to the peace and the welfare of the future generations. The Sunhak Peace Prize includes a cash prize totaling one million dollars. The 2019 Sunhak Peace Prize Award Ceremony will take place in February, 2019 in Seoul, Korea.
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina pioneered major transformations in the agricultural field, including expanding rice production by introducing high yielding technologies, designing and implementing policies to support farmers’ access to technologies at scale, increasing the availability of credit for millions of smallholder farmers, attracting private investments for the agricultural sector, rooting out the corrupt elements in the fertilizer industry, and assisting in establishment of major agricultural policies for Africa’s green revolution.
The “Africa Fertilizer Summit,” which he organized in 2006, was one of the largest high-level meetings in Africa’s history that had a focus on solving Africa’s food issues. During this Summit, Dr. Adesina was instrumental in developing the “Abuja Declaration on Fertilizer for the African Green Revolution,” whereby the participants stated their commitment to the “eradication of hunger in Africa, by 2030.”
Dr. Adesina worked with various banks and international NGOs in order to create an innovative financing system, providing loans to small farmers, providing a way for them to rise out of poverty. This move leveraged $100 million in loans and provided opportunities for small farmers to increase their agricultural productivity, and their income.
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina currently serves as the president of the African Development Bank Group which plays a central role in Africa’s development. As an “economic commander” of Africa, he promotes the “High 5 Strategy” that include: light up and power Africa, feed Africa, industrialize Africa, integrate Africa and improve the quality of life for the people of Africa. As a result of his work, the lives of millions of people throughout Africa have been improved.
Sir, for your dexterity and constant upward movement in affecting humanity, you are our Boss of the Week Award. Congratulations sir!