The Nigerian Government says it is gladdened by the accolades showered on Professor Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UN Population Fund (UNFPA), for his exemplary work and impact on the global community.
The Nigeria’s Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the UN, Professor Tijjani Bande, stated this while delivering the tribute by the Nigerian Government at the valedictory night for Osotimehin in New York.
Professor Bande expressed Nigeria’s gratitude at the outpouring of encomium for the late UNFPA chief who died on June 4 in his home in New York at the age of 68 years.
“Nigeria joins the rest of the grieving world in mourning but also celebrating the life of an illustrious citizen. This gathering today barely whispered that he is a Nigerian. We take pride in the fact that we produced him.”
“His commitment on global health issues has been attested to by all. In Nigeria, Professor Osotimehin was a distinguished teacher and professional public servant,” Permanent Representative said.
The Nigerian envoy noted the exceptional legacy of Osotimehin at the University of Ibadan Teaching Hospital.
He said the deceased sustained the pride of the College as the primary and principal parent institution for post graduate training in medicine in West Africa and by extension, in Africa.
According to him, “the stewardship of the former Nigeria’s Minister of Health at the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, was also distinguished by hard work and excellence”. “That was what we really knew him for and it was those qualities that he brought to bear and that made him attracted to the world system.”
“Nigeria is gladdened by the statements by all about celebrating him and continuing the work he did, which did not die with him. “And we can only affirm that with the same commitment, we will carry on the work that has been done by him. “I want to thank all of you for rallying around us and the family during this loss of a great and distinguished Nigerian, loving family man, politician, public servant and public health professional.”
Ms Amina Mohammed, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, described Osotimehin as “a big brother and a friend”.
Ms Mohammed, who said she was still shocked at his death, recalled how the late UNFPA boss welcomed and supported at the UN in 2013.
Osotimehin, who was the most senior African Under-Secretary-General and served as Chair of the UN Senior Africans Group until his death, was also honoured by the Group of African States at the UN.
The group, in a tribute by Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ignace Lufuta expressed its condolences to the government and the people of Nigeria.
“He will be remembered by the African Group as a statesman and worthy son of Africa who in particular engaged and prevailed with African leadership on important issues as it affects the continent and its people.”
The Executive Director of UNICEF, Dr Anthony Lake; Executive Director of UNAIDS, Dr Michel Sidibé; and Special Adviser to UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Conflicts, Adama Dieng also paid special tribute to their late colleague.
Others who honoured the night of tribute included the Permanent Representatives of countries at the UN, family, friends and members of the Nigerian community.
Grace Adekusibe/ Sammie Idika