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The World Honors Late Nigerian Diplomat - 2002-06-17

In Nigeria, tributes are pouring in for former foreign minister and U.N. General Assembly president, Major-general Joseph Garba, who died earlier this month. The late leader was buried on Satruday in his home town of Langtang in north central Plateau State on Saturday. Among those paying homage were President Olusegun Obasanjo and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Fifty-eight-year-old General Joe Garba died in the capital Abuja on June 1 after a brief illness. Until his death, he headed Nigeria’s prestigious Institute for Strategic Studies where he helped train Nigeria’s policy makers.

He first came to promince as Nigeria’s foreign minister from 1975 to 1978. General Garba was among the senior army officers who came to power through a military coup in 1975. Among its leaders was General Olusegun Obasanjo -- who later became military head of state in 1976 following the death of his predecessor, the late General Murtala Muhammad. General Garba served as General Obasanjo’s foreign minister.

In that capacity, he helped to implement Nigeria’s foreign policy, which led to independence for a number of Southern African countries. He also served as Nigeria’s representative at the UN headquarters in New York from 1985 to 1987. During his tenure, he became the chairman of the U.N. anti-Apartheid Committee. He was also President of the U.N. General Assembly for five years between 1984 and 1989.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said he was saddened by his death.

General Garba, who left behind a wife, seven children and five grand children, was also a scholar. Apart from obtaining a Master’s degree from Harvard University in Boston, Massachusettes, he also authored the book - Diplomatic Soldiering - chronicling his military and public careers.