Family members, friends and colleagues gathered in Abuja on Friday to pay last respects to the late Executive Director of United Nations Population Fund, UNPFA, Babatunde Osotimehin, who died last month in New York, USA.
The late professor was eulogised at two separate events held in his honour by the United Nations at its secretariat and Federal Ministry of Health, at the Shehu Musa Yaradua Center.
Mr. Osotimehin, who died at the age of 68 (February 6, 1949 – June 4, 2017) was Nigeria’s former health minister, former head of Nigeria’s AIDS agency, NACA, former provost of the college of medicine at the University of Ibadan and until his death was top executive at UNPFA.
Edward Kallon, Country Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programme in Nigeria, in his tribute to Mr. Osotimehin commended him as a passionate advocate for women and girls.
Mr. Kallon on behalf of UN Nigeria said his various works speak for him. He added that he had lost a colleague, true friend and a true African brother.
He said Mr. Osotimehin never saw human suffering as a challenge, but as an opportunity to serve.
“He saw himself as a child in a mother’s womb who needs the mother for nurturing care and support at birth. That is why he committed himself to ensuring that no woman should die while giving life or discriminated against for just being a woman.”
The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, in a short eulogy described the late professor as a humble, committed Nigerian that exemplified true leadership and would never be forgotten.
Mr. Adewole said Mr. Osotimehin was “a mentor, a boss and had always remained a teacher.”
“As we grieve with the family, we will also take solace on the legacy he left behind. He started his career as a young advocate and defender of young people, women, girls, and the children.
He also advocated for demographic dividends and why Nigeria must use a more aggressive approach. We are proud of this man and his outstanding achievement and legacies and we believe his legacies will live forever.”
Funke Osotimehin, the wife of the deceased, in her vote of thanks at both events, thanked everyone saying since the passing of her husband, the tributes had helped the family to bear the loss.
Some of the dignitaries that spoke eloquently about the life and contribution of deceased in the development of health sector include Saudatu Umma Yaradua, Health Specialist, World Bank; Mike Ogirima, President Nigeria Medical Association; Bunmi Olao-Olapade, Provost College of Medicine University of Ibadan; and Aliyu Sani, Director-General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS.
Serving ministers who also expressed their sadness with the death of Mr. Osotimehin during the ceremony were Kayode Feyemi, Minister of Solid Minerals, and Osagie Ehanire, Minister of State for Health
Binta Adamu-Bello, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, also condoled with the family of the deceased.