Cotonou- Benin (PANA) -- Benin's candidate for the office of executive secretary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Albert Tevoedjre, has affirmed his "full readiness" to serve Africa.
Taking questions from PANA on the motive for his bid Prof.
Tevoedjre, 72, said he was proposed by the government of Benin as its official candidate, but added: "I fully agree to serve Africa in that position.
" He said he strongly believes in an African Union "based on concrete realities, capable of making development more effective for our African peoples.
" On his priorities if elected, the Benin candidate said ECOWAS was already a well-integrated space with over 200 million citizens who are producers and consumers.
"In it we can envisage real development as a pillar for a broader African Union," he opined, adding that "it is necessary to contribute largely to enable populations in the area to better communicate among themselves, understand each other and build the requisite solidarity for their development.
" Born on 10 November 1929 in Porto-Novo, Tevoedjre is married to Isabelle Ekue, a professor of arts very committed to the struggle against female circumcision, with whom he has three sons.
The couple also has three grandchildren.
After his primary studies at Porto-Novo's Saint Joseph school, he attended the Saint Gall seminar in Ouidah and the Van Vollenhoven high school in Dakar, Senegal.
He next pursued studies at the University of Toulouse (France) and Freiburg (Switzerland), and later the Geneva Institute of Higher International Studies and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, US.
He holds a doctorate degree in economics and social science, and a BA in history.
When Benin became independent in 1960 Tevoedjre, a former leader of the Federation of Black African Students in France and co- founder of the African National Liberation Movement, was appointed minister of state at the president's office, then minister of Information, a position he held until he became secretary-general of the African and Malagasy Union (AMU).
After leaving AMU in 1963, he taught political science at the African Institute in Geneva and at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
From 1964 to 1965, he was a research fellow at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he published "Pan Africanism in Action - the Case of AMU," in 1965.
That same year, Tevoedjre joined the International Labour Office (ILO) as an expert in labour planning.
He became regional coordinator for Africa in March 1966 with an office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia until his appointment as assistant director- general on 1 January 1969.
On 9 December 1974 Tevoedjre became director of the International Institute of Social Studies, with rank of ILO assistant director- general.
He remained active in research and education, continuing to lecture on political science in various universities.
To that end he was associate professor of political science at Sorbonne University in Paris from 1976 to 1978, Herskowitz Visiting Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, US in 1977 and 1978, and visiting professor at the National University of Cote d'Ivoire in Abidjan from 1977 to 1979.
As from 1 January 1984, Albert Tevoedjre devoted his full time to the World Association of Social Prospective, set up in 1976 at his initiative following the world symposium on the social implications of a new international economic order.
Tevoedjre is the author of several surveys on African political, economic and social development, and several articles in various newspapers.
His book "La Pauvrete, richesse des peuples" (Poverty, the Peoples' Wealth), in which he highlights the idea of a solidarity covenant, won the Vie Economique prize in 1980 in Paris.
In 1987, Tevoedjre set up the Pan African Social Prospective Centre (CPPS), an institution for research, training and implementation of programmes in the sphere of social and economic development in Africa.
Tevoedjre won several honours in various countries, as well as the Medal of the Council of Europe, the French Palmes Academiques and the International Humanitarian Medal.
He cooperates actively with the UN Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), notably on the cultural, social and political dimensions of the pandemic.
Invited as an eminent personality at the Benin National Conference in February 1990, he was tasked with presenting the general report.
Tevoedjre, a member of the Higher Council of the Republic following the National Conference, founded a political party called Our Common Cause (NCC), which quickly became a major force on the country's political scene, finishing third in the March 1991 presidential election.
From April 1991 to March 1996, he was an MP and chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Development Cooperation, Defence and Security at the Benin National Assembly.
In 1996, he became leader of the opposition and embarked on a struggle for democratic change.
His party succeeded, along with other political groups, in ending the reign of President Nicephore Soglo.
To the surprise of many observers, Mathieu Kerekou was elected president and formed a government in which Tevoedjre and his friends held significant positions, including the ministry of Planning, Economic Reform and Employment.
He regularly acts for the President when the latter is out of the country, during which times he wields the powers of head of government.
He also set up a National Employment Programme based on a poverty reduction plan aimed at ensuring a Common Social Minimum.
The African Development Bank has recognised the validity of that concept, and the programme was able to obtain a loan of 18 000 million francs CFA from the Bank for Human Resource Development.
Since 1 July 1999, Tevoedjre has been coordinator of the "Millennium for Africa" project, operated under the aegis of the UN through an independent commission.
According to Tevoedjre, the commission aims at "initiating thorough reflection and presenting significant, original and effective proposals in order to help Africa take advantage of new opportunities within itself or which the international community may still offer at the dawn of the third millennium.