- Obasanjo, Ajimobi, UN, others pay last respects
From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole and Oyo State governor, Abiola Ajimobi, were among eminent Nigerians who paid their last respects to the late Prof Babatunde Osotimehin, ex-Executive Director, United Nations Population Funds (UNFPA) and former Minister of Health in Nigeria.
They paid their last respects yesterday at the All Soul’s Church, Bodija, Ibadan, where a funeral service was held for the deceased. The service was followed by interment, which only invited people were allowed to witness. Reception was later held at Jogor Event Centre, Ibadan.
An Archbishop in the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Revd George Lasebikan, who preached at the service urged all and sundry to live a good life worthy of emulation.
The service was also attended by deputy governor of Ogun State, Mrs. Yetunde Onanuga, who represented Governor Ibikunle Amosun; Secretary to Osun State Government, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti, who represented Governor Rauf Aregbesola;Deputy Secretary General, UN, Aminat Ibrahim; Executive Director, United Nations, Dr. Nazikna Kauem; Executive Secretary, Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka; Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Prof Idowu Olayinka; Chief Medical Director, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Prof Temitope Alonge; and a host of other dignitaries.
Former President Obasanjo, in his tribute, said: “Indeed, the finality of Professor Osotimehin’s passage is painful, especially as he would still have a lot to contribute to his family, his community, the nation, Africa and indeed the entire world, but we can draw solace from the fact that he lived a life of service to humankind and to his fatherland.
“No doubt, Prof Osotimehin has left an indelible mark in his national and international assignments. His manners and conduct displayed while alive will continue to linger in our memory and serve as a source of inspiration.”
Minister of Health, Prof Adewole, who represented the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, at the funeral service, said: “Prof Osotimehin, also fondly called ‘Bob’ had many enviable qualities. He was a family man, an academician par excellence, a global researcher. A seasoned administrator, an advocate, a diplomat, a mentor and a grand-political master. I interacted with Big-Boss for more than 30 years of personal, official, academic and political levels. He was known to be a team player, liberal, visionary and socially sensitive during his time.”
Widow of the deceased, Mrs Olufunke Osotimehin, said she met her husband 47 years ago at a birthday party, and they got married 44 years ago, saying her late husband was ambitious and continually sought opportunities to serve Nigeria, saying “For you, it was first and foremost about the service, and the God that saw your heart and good motives opened up opportunities for you at NACA, the Federal Ministry of Health and then the UNFPA.”
Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Anthonio Guterres, said in his tribute that “the world has lost a great champion of health and well-being for all. Prof. Babatunde was admired globally for his leadership of the UN Population Fund and for his forceful advocacy for the world’s women and girls in particular.”
Dr. Oba Otudeko also said of Osotimehin, “To those of us who had known him long enough, it was not a surprise that Bob’s life’s journey will rightly culminate into global prominence, with his appointment as the fourth. Executive Director (and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations) of the UNFPA, a position he held until his death.”