Dr. Osotimehin, a Nigerian from the State of Ogun, died on June 4, 2017 in New York, the United States of America aged 68.
According to a release from the Liberian Embassy in Abuja, the Liberian Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency Professor Al-Hassan Conteh paid the tribute of behalf of the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, the High Commissioner of Cameroon, His Excellency Salaheddine Abbas Ibrahima.
During a memorial service organized by the UN System in Nigeria over the weekend, the Diplomatic Community extended profound condolences to the Government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the UNFPA’s family for the loss of a great African, “whose contributions to humanity will be long remembered.”
The diplomats described the late UNFPA Executive Director as one of the towering figures that stood in the “troubled waters of global health”. In their tribute, the diplomats recalled the late Dr. Osotimehin as being a statesman, an academic, a patriot, a scientist, and a staunch advocate for reproductive health and reproductive rights, as well as a champion of youth and gender issues.
The tribute continues, “The world will dearly miss him for his work in the advocacy against the AIDS pandemic. Through his work and priorities at the UNFPA, we now have a better and clearer understanding of the Demographic Dividend: the idea that “accelerated economic growth may result from a decline in a country’s mortality and fertility and the subsequent change in the age structure of the population.”
Other personalities paid tributes during the memorial event which was held at the UN House in the Central Business District of Abuja.
The UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Edward Kallon, remarked that the memorial event was “not to mourn but to celebrate the life and gift of Nigeria to the world”. He noted that the late Nigerian dedicated his life to serving humanity.
He also disclosed that one of the conference rooms at the UN House has been named in honor of the late Dr. Osotimehin.
Others who made tributes included the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Geoffrey Onyeama, the UNFPA Representative, Diene Keita, the President of the UN Staff Association in Nigeria, Dr. Noma Owens-Ibie and a representative of young persons, Fatima Gebi, among others.
Prior to this appointment in November of 2010 as the Executive Director of UNFPA, Dr. Osotimehin served as Nigeria’s Minister of Health from 2008-2010. He was also the Project Manager for the World Bank-assisted HIV/AIDS from 2002-2008. He also served as the Chairman of the National Action Committee on AIDS in Nigeria from 2002 to 2007.