By Senator Iroegbu and Alex Enuma in AbujaÂ
The Federal Government, United Nations (UN), family members as other stakeholders in health and development community have paid final tribute to the late Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Under-Secretary-General of UN, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin.
In his memorial service yesterday at the UN House Abuja, Osetimehin was honoured as a man with undying zeal for emancipation and empowerment of women and girls.
The tribute by the UN Resident Coordinators described that former Minister of Health as embodiment of all the values of the UN, since its creation in 1945, from the ashes of war and human suffering.
According to the Coordinators, Osetimehin dedicated his life to serving humanity as a Medical Doctor, a Public Servant, a Diplomat and an advocate for equity, justice and fairness to all, irrespective of sex, gender, race, tribe, age or status.
Part of the tribute read: “He saw himself as that child in a motherâ€™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.
“In Babatunde’s own words, ‘We are united by our common aspirations to reduce discrimination against women. Despite all our progress, this discrimination is manifest daily in violence, trafficking, female genital mutilation, maternal death and morbidity, a persistent gender wage gap, the double burden of work and family, and the poverty of older women.â€
He said: ‘Ending violence against women should be a priority for every human being. This is not only a women’s issue, it affects all of us. As long as the dignity and well-being of half of humanity is at risk, peace, security and sustainable development will remain out of reach.”
From the Federal government side, the Minster of Health, Prof. Issac Adewole, described the death of Osotimehin as a huge loss not only to the nation’s healthcare but to the international community at large adding that his life was a service completely dedicated to humanity.
Adewole also described the late former Director General of National Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS (NACA) as one committed to a life of service in both academia and natonal service.
In the same vein, Â the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Geoffrey Onyema, Â noted that during his tenure as Minister of health, Osetimehin united all the 36 states to build a national health plan focused on primaryÂ health care as well as built a strong relationship with Parliament ensuring resources were available to address critical health issues.
According to Onyema, “from December, 2008 March 2010, Osetimehin was the African spokesman of the partnership for maternal, newborn and child health.”
“He was a champion for youth, women and girls. young people remained his special focus at UNFPA stating inter alia. Throughout his career, he chairs several international fora focused on health, population and family planning and was recipient of several awards and honours including the Nigeria national honour-Officer of the Order if the Niger (OON)
“This is one of my challenging task, talking about my mentor, friend, brother and big boss. we will however remain grateful for a life well lived and spent. Above all, he is bold, fearless and deeply committed to the right, health and well-being of our women and girl. You stood by them, for them and fought for them. You are certainly immortal,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the wife of late women empowerment advocate , Mrs. Olufunke Oshotimehim, while paying tribute to her him, assured that his “family will be committed in sustaining the legacies left by the husband especially in the area of protecting and promoting the health and lives ofÂ Nigerian women and children to help them realise their full potential:.
According to Mrs. Osotimehin, that is the only way to mortalise her late husband’s passion of ensuring and promoting reproductive and maternal health.
She said: “Though I was not out there to work with him as his colleague but I speak today as his wife whom he continuously share his passion. He had always looked for opportunities to work and when the opportunity came he dedicated it passionately to mother and children. I also remember vividly that in the process of living with him as his wife’s he impacted in us as a family, his passion and desire to increase theÂ right, health and wellness beings of our Nigerian women and girl.
“We there stand here to say that we will not allow that passionÂ to die. We will continue to fish out, within our community those women and children that are in dire need of our services and we will contribute our own quota towards helpingÂ them.”
She however thanked the UN Community for remembering, honouring and extolling his late husband’s virtues adding that the family will ever be consoled by the level of tributes poured on his late husband.
“We have been overwhelmed by the level of economic poured on him by you all since his passing away in June 4 and these tributes have gone a long way in reducing our sorrow and we thank God for what he has used him to achieve while on earth,” she said.
In the same vein, the wife of Nigeria President, Mrs. Aisha Muhammed Buhari, in her tribute made available at the occasion described late Osotimehin as a pillar and mentor to the emergency of her pet project, “the Future Assured” which she said, has tremendously impacted positively on the lives of women, children and the less privileged.
“On behalf of the entire women in Nigeria, we express our heartfelt sympathy over his demise”.
For the Director-General of National Action on AIDs (NACA), Dr. Sani Aliyu, Osotimehin will be remembered for his passion and commitment to the good health and prosperity of the disadvantaged, including women and children.”
Aliyu said that Â Nigeria is really honoured to have him and we will continue to remember him in our prayers.
Also, the UN Women Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms Comfort Lamptey also described his sudden desmise as a great loss to the entire UN system adding that he left behind a legacy that will always serve as an inspiration to present and future generations in Africa and the world over. “
From the society of Gynecology and Obstetrics,,(SOGON) ” since he was inducted in 2012 in Ibadan he has remained very supportive of SOGON activities which include ways of improving reproductive health of our women. ” His loss is therefore a major setback in our push for universal coverage for maternal and reproductive Health. While we commiserate