Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja, Martins Ifijeh in Lagos
The acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, and Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosu, on Monday said they were shocked and saddened by the passage of former Minister of Health, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin.
Osotimehin died on Sunday night after a brief illness at the age of 68.
He was a former Minister of Health and former Director General of the National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA).
Until his death, he was the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
According to a brief statement by Babajide Osotimehin on behalf of his family, he lived a life well spent in service to humanity.
“We hereby announce the transition of our father and grandfather, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin. Funeral arrangements will be announced by the family,” the statement read.
Osinbajo, according to a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Laolu Akande, condoled with the wife, children and the entire family of the deceased over the passage of their bread winner.
He also commiserated with the staff of UNFPA and the entire UN on the demise of Osotimehin, whom he described as a very remarkable international public servant, who served passionately, diligently and worked tirelessly at the global and national stages to reduce maternal mortality as well as promote universal access to reproductive health.
On his part, Atiku in a tweet on his tweeter handle, @atiku, said Osotimehin was a great man who served Nigeria well, and made Nigerians proud internationally.
He added that the former health minister would surely be missed.
Also, Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, described the death of Osotimehin as a big loss, not only to Nigeria but the world at large.
Amosun said the professor was one of the many illustrious sons and daughters that the Gateway State is proud of.
He prayed that God grants the Osotimehin’s family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss, while urging the family to find consolation in the fact that he died a fulfilled man.
Equally not left off of the condolences is the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who in a statement yesterday by the ministry’s Director of Media and Public Relations, Mrs. Boade Akinola, said Osotimehin was an accomplished physician.
According to him, the late Osotimehin would be remembered for his role and global contributions to increased access to family planning as well as sexual and adolescent health especially in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs).
He noted that while in office as minister, Osotimehin was at the forefront of the advocacy for improved reproductive health care in the country.
Another former Minister of Health, Professor Eyitayo Lambo, described Osotimehin’s death as “unbelievable, unexpected and a most unfortunate dream that is not supposed to come true.”
Lambo who was a friend and classmate of Osotimehin said he recently spoke with him and he promised to send him copies of his recently launched autobiography, “but guess that has become history,” he said.
Also, the wife of the Senate President, Mrs. Toyin Saraki, said the global health community would miss Osotimehin, who has been an ally in improving conditions and outcomes of pregnant women, newborns, children, adolescents and their communities.
Stating this on her Instagram page, she said: “I have just learnt of the unbelievably sad news that the global health community has lost my dear brother.
“In all the times I have known Osotimehin right from his time in NACA, then as Health Minister, and up until his term at UNFPA, I have always found in him an indefatigably diplomatic and committed ally.”
Executive Director of Foundation and former Country Director Ipas, Nigeria, Dr Ejike Oji, who closely worked with Osotimehin on family planning advocacy in Nigeria, described his death as “a great loss to Nigeria and the world at large”
Also, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has expressed profound sadness at Osotimehin’s demise.
Guterres, in a statement described Osotimehin as a colleague and a friend.
He expressed condolences to the family of the deceased, the staff of UNFPA and the Nigerian Government.
“I am profoundly saddened by the sudden passing of my good colleague and friend, Osotimehin.
“I offer sincere condolences to his family, the staff of UNFPA, to the government and people of Nigeria, and to all those around the world touched by this loss.
“The world has lost a great champion of health and well-being for all.
“Osotimehin 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,” Guterres said.
The UN chief explained that sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights were among the most important, and often sensitive, on the international agenda.
“Dr Babatunde’s calm yet ardent efforts helped families get the sexual and reproductive health services they need, and helped the world advance the landmark 1994 Cairo Programme of Action on Population and Development.
“His voice was invaluable over the years, including his time as Nigeria’s Minister of Health, in pressing for family planning, women’s education, children’s health and action on HIV/AIDS as vital ingredients in human progress.
“At this moment of sorrow, let us give thanks for Babatunde’s life of service,” Guterres said.