President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday paid glowing tributes to his long-time ally and friend, Professor Tamunoemi Sokari David-West, who served as Minister of Petroleum Resources between January 1984 and August 1985.
At the commendation service for the former minister, held at the Chapel of Resurrection, University of Ibadan, the President said Prof David-West would be sorely missed for his integrity, sense of accountability, and radical opposition to corruption.
President Buhari was represented at the event by Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, and Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.
Also at the event were the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, renowned academics, politicians, family members and admirers of the eminent virologist, who had attained national and international acclaim.
“The late Professor stood for all that was noble and just”, President Buhari said through his Adviser on Media, adding: “He had an indomitable spirit, stood by whatever he believed in, and was very loyal. May his soul Rest In Peace.”
The President urged Nigerians to emulate the virtues of the former minister, including his scrupulous commitment to scholarship, timeliness and loyalty to motherland.
While speaking, Sylva described the death of David-West as the departure of a titan, adding that he (Sylva) is following in the footsteps of the deceased former Minister, as the current occupier of the position he once held.
He said: “Nigerians should learn how to be straight-forward, how to have zero tolerance for corruption, that is what he stood for. And that is the kind of attitude we need from Nigerians. If all of us should imbibe what David-West believed in, Nigeria will make more progress.”
Sylva expressed sadness at the death of David-West, saying now is the time he personally needed the former Petroleum Minister to guide him in the discharge of his duty, as a Minister of State for Petroleum.
“Unfortunately he is gone but the Lord knows best. We are encouraged by the fact that he left beautiful and brilliant children that will continue to work with us,” he added.
Governor Godwin Obaseki said: “You could describe him as a freedom fighter who believed in the course of Nigeria. He was a very principled man, a democrat, almost an idealist. He had no tolerance for corruption and he spoke his mind when it mattered most.”
While appreciating President Buhari and the guests for their support, on behalf of the family, Benibo David-West, said the family, in honour of the deceased, would begin an endowment fund for the best student in the Virology Department of the University of Ibadan, to which Governor Obaseki also declared his support.
Prof David-West passed away on November 11, 2019, aged 83.