We have deem it necessary to project some of those whose contributions towards mankind can not be forgotten. Some might be late and some alive but however, the world still needs to know about there good works.
Here in our category of Personality Profile, we want to present an outstanding patriots, an activist, a Community Development experts and a Humanitarian. Late Processor Claude Ake.
PROF. CLAUDE AKE
(1939 – 1996)
Professor Claude Ake was born in Omoku, in Nigeria on the 18th of February 1939. His parents both deceased , Geoffrey Ake a politician and Christiana Ake, a woman leader and Trader.
He attended Kings College Lagos, the University of Ibadan in Nigeria and then on to the University of London where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1962.
He got his Masters and Doctorate Degrees from Columbia University, New York, USA in 1963 and 1966. From 1966 – 69 he served as Assistant Professor of Political Science at Columbia University and, from 1969-72 as Associate Professor of Political Science at Carleton University, Canada and at the Universities of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and University of Nairobi, Kenya both in East Africa before returning to Nigeria to be the premier Dean of Social Science in the just founded University of Port Harcourt, in his Home State, Rivers State.
Claude had a brief stint with Politics, and was the State Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1989.
The optimizing of his career was at his establishing an independent Research Institute in Nigeria, Centre for Advanced Social Sciences (C. A. S. S). “The Think Tank” to foster Development from within and application of scientific knowledge to actual development problems in Africa, enabling Africa to become a producer of knowledge.
The Rockefeller Foundation made it possible for Claude to study in the United States of America through grant and scholarship.
He was a Woodrow Wilson scholar with the Smithsonian Institute and a fellow of the Brookings Institute. He tried to give back to the country that input much into him when he taught as a visiting professor in Columbia, Michigan or Yale Universities.
He presented papers in seminars and Conferences on campuses in the United States of America, Latin America and in Canada. As the foremost authority of the Political Economy of Africa.
He was a member of various Associations amongst which are the Nigeria Political Association and the Council for Development of Economic and Social Research in Dakar, Senegal, He worked closely with the World Bank, Ford Foundation, The International Institute of Labor Studies in Geneva, The African Capacity Building Foundation in Harare, Zimbabwe.
The Clingendael Institute in the Netherlands, World Institute for Development Economics Research, Helsinki, Finland and the United Nations University in Tokyo, Japan to mention a few.
Prof. Ake served in many International organizations. He was a Consultant of the International Development Research Center, Canada; The United Nations Economic Commission; the United Nations Development Program; The African Development Bank and the World Bank.
He was a member of the Board of Directors of UNHCR, Geneva; International Institute of Labour Studies, Geneva, International Social Science Council, Paris, The World Bank’s Council of African Advisers; The UNESCO expert group on Social Development in Africa and the African Capacity Building Foundation.
Prof. Claude Ake was also in a team selected by the United States National Democratic Institute of International Affairs to oversee the Election in Chile in 1989, and for several years he presided over the Council for Development of Economic and Social Research in Africa (CODESRIA).
At home, Claude Ake held several distinguished positions, between 1978 and 1979, he chaired the Rivers State Housing Corporation; Member of the National Universities Commission and an adviser to the Committee on Use, Protection and Maintenance of Public Property. It is also noteworthy to add that he turned down so many state and national appointments, probably because of his ideological orientation.
Ake has many books and monographs to his credit. They include;
1. A Theory of Political Integration
(Homewood, Illinois: The Dorsey Pres, 1967)
2. Revolutionary Pressures in Africa
(London: Zed Press, 1978)
3. Social Science as Imperialism: The theory of Development
(Ibadan: Ibadan University Press, 1979)
4. A Political Economy of Africa
5. Political Economy of Nigeria
6. Democracy and Development in Africa
(Washington, D.C. The Brookings Institute, 1996)
7. Is Africa Democratizing?
(CASS Monograph No. 5, 1996)
8. The New World Order: A view from the South
(Port Harcourt: CASS, 1992)
9. Democratization and Disempowerment in Africa
(CASS Occassional Monograph, 1994)
10. The Political Economy of Crisis and Underdevelopment in Africa( 1989).
11. Is Africa Developing?
12. The Marginalisation of Africa (1996).
13. The Political Economy of Crisis and Underdevelopment in Africa (1989).
14. The Marginalisation of Africa (1996).
15. Nigerian Political Economy
He has also written over forty chapters in books and over fifty papers in scholarly journals worldwide.
Professor Claude Ake was not only a scholar, but also an activist who championed the course of his community using his intellect and contacts. He was one of the major persons who fought for the creation of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area.
The great scholar consistently pressurized the oil companies operating in Ogba kingdom to provide basic amenities for the community. It took his intervention to stop the Rivers State Utility Board from collecting money from the people of Omoku for the electricity generated by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC).
Claude Ake’s community service efforts are well known and applauded worldwide, especially his condemnation of the insensitivity of Shell Petroleum Nigeria Limited to the problems of their host communities in the Niger Delta, especially Ogoni Land. His position in this matter was not pretentious.
Ake was a world class Professor of Political Economy and is listed among the few Nigerian scholars whose works are found in all libraries all over the World. In the last two decades, he became a producer of knowledge and his brilliance and erudition stamped his authority as Africa’s foremost scholar of Political Economy.
Enough of Professor Ake’s legacy of academic excellence cannot be captured within this limit space; words are not enough to describe the glory of his exit. It can only be imagined from the flow of encomiums since his tragic departure on 7th of November 1996.
In his condolence message, David Apter, the Chairman of the Council of African Studies, Yale University professes that there was no one working in the field of political science in Africa whom he respected more than Claude Ake; both for his courage and brilliance.
Lamenting on the loss, Christine Winge of the Ford Foundation in New York acknowledged Ake’s intelligence, vision and commitment to Africa’s people. He declared that his loss is not felt just through Nigeria and Africa, but throughout the world.
The Executive of the World Bank noted that Professor Claude Ake was known for his “keen intellect and commitment to the course of African development”, and he concluded that Ake will be greatly missed.
Professor Ali Mazrui, one of the most celebrated African scholars of our time, saw Ake as a “Star among African scholars – a superb and stimulating interpreter of the African condition.” Africa, he said, is poorer without him.
There is no doubt that Professor Claude Ake was a distinguished scholar of international repute. But the beauty of his legacy lies in the fact that his pre-eminence was built on a foundation of wisdom, intelligence, resourcefulness, integrity, simplicity and honesty. He will be remembered for his ideals; for what he taught and for his thoughts.
Prof. Claude Ake was a recipient of many awards some of which include:
• The National Science Research Council of Canada Award for the Study of the Indigenization of African Economies, 1975.
• His Book, Political Economy of Africa was a Choice Book of the U.S. year 1987. This was translated by the Russian Academy of Science into Russian.
• Woodrow Wilson Scholar, Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C., 1985 – 1986
• Rockefeller Scholar, 1962-1966
About 23 years ago, precisely on November 7, 1996, the cold hands of death snatched away Professor Claude Ake from this earth. He died along with 141 others in the ill-fated ADC plane crash in Ejigbo, Lagos State, on that fateful day. He is survived by his wife Mrs Anita Ake and his three sons: Mela, Ibra & Brieri Claude Ake.
Farewell to a god of Political Economy worldwide, our own Professor Claude Ake.
You will always be remembered!