Chief Emeka Anyaoku, born Eleazar Chukwuemeka (Emeka) Anyaoku on 18 January 1933 in Obosi, Anambra, Nigeria. He served as Commonwealth Secretary-General from 1990 to 2000. He attended the Merchants of Light School in Oba and (as a College Scholar) the University College of Ibadan, at the time a college of the University of London and from which he obtained an honours degree in Classics.

Chief Anyaoku later attended specialist courses in the United Kingdom and France. In 1959, Emeka Anyaoku joined the Commonwealth Development Corporation. Following Nigeria’s independence, he was invited to join his country’s diplomatic service and, in 1963, was posted to Nigeria’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York. In 1966, shortly after the establishment of the Commonwealth Secretariat, he was seconded to the new organisation at the request of the first Secretary-General, Arnold Smith of Canada, as Assistant Director of International Affairs, later becoming Director and, in 1975, Assistant Secretary-General.

In 1977, Commonwealth governments elected him Deputy Secretary-General with responsibility for international affairs and the Secretariat’s administration. Nigeria’s civilian government of 1983 called on Chief Anyaoku to become the country’s Foreign Minister. On the overthrow of the Government by the military, 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 1989 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Chief Anyaoku was elected the third Commonwealth Secretary-General. He was re-elected at the 1993 CHOGM in Limassol, Cyprus, for a second five-year term.

Under Chief Anyaoku’s guidance, the Secretariat also launched a variety of important initiatives in sustainable economic and social development, and through the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation (CFTC), the operational arm of the Secretariat, reinforced the benefits of co-operation and mutual assistance among members.