Emeka Anyaoku

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The Right Honourable
Chief Emeka Anyaoku
Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations
In office
1 July 1990 – 31 March 2000
Head Elizabeth II
Chairperson Thabo Mbeki
Head Elizabeth II
Secretary-General Sir Shridath Ramphal
Preceded by Sir Shridath Ramphal
Succeeded by Sir Don McKinnon
Deputy Secretary-General for Political Affairs
In office
1983 – 1 July 1990
Preceded by M.A. Husain
Succeeded by Vacancy
In office
Preceded by Vacancy
Succeeded by Anthony Siaguru
Personal details
Born (1933-01-18) 18 January 1933 (age 82)
Spouse(s) Princess Bunmi Anyaoku
(m. 1962)
Children 4

Chief Emeka Anyaoku, GCVO, CON (born 18 January 1933),[1] was the third Commonwealth Secretary-General. He is a Nigerian of Igbo descent.


Born in Obosi, Anyaoku was educated at Merchant of Light School, Oba,[1] and attended the University College of Ibadan, then a college of the University of London, from which he obtained an honours degree in Classics.

Political career[edit]

In 1959, Emeka Anyaoku joined the Commonwealth Development Corporation. Following Nigeria's independence, he joined Nigeria's diplomatic service, and in 1963 was posted to its Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.

In 1966, he joined the Commonwealth Secretariat as Assistant Director of International Affairs. In 1968-69 there was a campaign by the Nigerian military government for the recall of Anyaoku; which said he was not a suitable Nigerian nominee, and they were anxious about his loyalty "to the country of his birth". But "Emeka had resigned from the Nigerian Foreign Service and Arnold had no difficulty in turning aside the demand".[2]

In 1977, the Commonwealth Heads of Government elected him as Deputy Secretary-General. In 1983, Nigeria's civilian government appointed Anyaoku to become Nigeria's Foreign Minister. After the overthrow of the government by the military later that year, he returned to his position as Deputy Secretary-General with the support of the new government in Nigeria and the endorsement of all Commonwealth governments.

At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Kuala Lumpur in 1989, Anyaoku was elected the third Commonwealth Secretary-General. He was re-elected at the 1993 CHOGM in Limassol for a second five-year term, beginning on 1 April 1995.

Ichie Adazie of Obosi[edit]

Aside from his international career, Chief Anyaoku continues to fulfill the duties of his office as Ichie Adazie of Obosi, a traditional Ndichie chieftainship. In 1990, the heads of all 19 communities of the Idemili Clan in his home state of Anambra accorded Anyaoku a unique honour by investing him with the title of Ugwumba Idemili. His wife, Bunmi, is also a chieftainess - Ugoma Obosi and Idemili - in her own right, with a long involvement in welfare work in Nigeria and throughout the Commonwealth.

From 2001 to 2010, he was president of the World Wide Fund for Nature. He is also a Vice-President of the Royal Commonwealth Society.

Personal life[edit]

The Ichie Anyaoku has been married to Princess Bunmi Anyaoku since 1962. Princess Anyaoku is an Omoba of Abeokuta, Nigeria. Of their marriage, it was written in the Nigerian Sunday Times, then the widest circulating newspaper in the country, that "it was a wedding of one of Nigeria's most eligible bachelors and a beautiful young Princess educated in an English boarding school and Pitman College, London."

They have four children, Adiba; their daughter, and three sons; Oluyemisi, Obiechina, and Emenike. Emeka has two grandchildren, born to Adiba and her husband; Irenne Ighodaro and Osita Ighodaro.

Emeka Anyaoku is an Anglican, his father having converted to that faith. He writes that he is, "very comfortable being an Anglican, comfortable with the beliefs that Anglicanism represents." [3]


  1. ^ a b "Anyaoku, Eleazar Chukwuemeka", in Africa Who's Who, London: Africa Journal for Africa Books Ltd, 1981, p. 137.
  2. ^ Gerald Hensley, Final Approaches: A Memoir (Auckland University Press, New Zealand, 2006), p. 129. ISBN 1-86940-378-9
  3. ^ Why I am Still an Anglican, Continuum, 2006, p. 46.
Political offices
Preceded by
Shridath Ramphal
Secretary-General for the Commonwealth
Succeeded by
Don McKinnon
Preceded by
Ishaya Audu
Foreign Minister of Nigeria
1983 – 1983
Succeeded by
Ibrahim Gambari
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Sara Morrison
President of the World Wide Fund for Nature
Succeeded by
Yolanda Kakabadse