The Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, on Friday said President Muhammadu Buhari nominated late Babatunde Osotimehin for two-year extension of his service at the UN shortly before his death.
Mr. Onyeama stated this in Abuja at a memorial service for Mr. Osotimehin organised by the UN.
He said that Nigeria was proud of the late professor, and pointed out that he diligently served the country and the international community.
He said that the country had to write a letter to the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, to retain late Mr. Osotimehin in his team.
“Two months ago, I actually had to write a letter to the UN Secretary-General at the instruction and encouragement of Mr. President and the Acting President.
“The letter was to inform him that Nigeria was immensely proud of what Osotimehin was doing for the past six years.
“And, that we will appreciate very much since he has the right to appoint his team, to retain him for the next two years,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Mr. Osotimehin was appointed the UNFPA Executive Director in November, 2010 for a four-year term, which was renewed in 2014.
He was also until his death on June 4, Under Secretary-General of the UN.
Prior to joining the UN, late Mr. Osotimehin was Nigeria’s Minister of Health.
He was also the Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS after nurturing it as National Action Committee on AIDS, which he managed as chairman.
Mr. Onyeama said that Mr. Oostimehin had laid a legacy in the health sector and projected the image of the nation at the international scene.
“We are here not to mourn but to celebrate a great Nigerian’s life – a former Minister of Health, who dedicated his life not only to our fatherland but to humanity,” he said.
According to him, any nation on earth would be proud to have him as one of their own.
The minister said that it was not surprising that international community appointed him as Executive Director of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
He said that since his passing on, the narrative about his contribution to global health had been wonderful “and even this morning people were talking about his humility’’.
“I want to place on record our immense gratitude to the international community for giving him the opportunity to serve the world in the capacity of Executive Director and Under-Secretary of UN.
“As Minister of Health, he mobilised all the ministries of the 36 states of the federation to build and developed health plan that focused on primary healthcare.
“He ensured that medical institutions in Nigeria treat gun shots and accident victims before any other thing. He was an advocate of reproductive health and reproductive rights,” Mr. Onyeama said.