President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed deep sorrow over the death of former minister of Petroleum, Prof. Tamunoemi Sokari David-West.
The deceased was a political ally and friend of President Buhari, who he fondly called “The Indomitable Tam David-West” during his lifetime.
David-West, who died yesterday at the age of 83, was a consultant virologist of national and international standing. He served as commissioner of education in the old Rivers State, minister of Petroleum and Energy under the Muhammadu Buhari military regime, and minister of Mines, Power and Steel under Gen. Ibrahim Babangida era.
In his tribute, Buhari said that “he (David-West) had an indomitable spirit, stood resolutely by whatever he believed in, and was in a class of his own.”
Buhari, in a statement issued by his special adviser on media, Mr. Femi Adesina, commiserated with the family of the great academic, author, and social critic.
He condoled with the the people of Buguma, Kalabari Kingdom of Rivers State, the academia, and all those who loved “the forthright Tam David-West.”
The president prayed that God would grant rest to the soul of the committed nationalist and urged those who believe in the ideals he espoused to live same for the betterment of Nigeria, and humanity in general.
Also, Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, commiserated with the family of former minister on his demise.
He described the death of the erudite professor of virology as a huge loss to the people of the state.
Wike, in a statement issued in Port Harcourt last night by the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, said: “Prof. David-West was an accomplished academician who served the country well in various capacities.”
He prayed that God would grant his soul eternal rest and the family the fortitude to bear the loss.
Similarly, the Academic Staff Union Of Universities (ASUU) described David-West as the custodian and repository of university culture.
The union said the late don was a great fighter who believed in one Nigeria.
The chairman of ASUU, University of Ibadan (UI), Prof. Deji Omole, who reacted to the death of celebrated university teacher, stated that he was a great supporter of the union.
Omole said that the deceased knew and articulated a clear vision of what a University ought to be.
“Tam David-West was a phenomenal success academically. He was a great struggler who believed in one Nigeria. He had a clear vision of what the university should be.
“He was a great fellow of our union, especially at the branch. who was always ready to assist whenever he was consulted.
‘’He was actually a custodian of the university tradition and culture. A repository and custodian of the university culture, the union will definitely miss him. He was among the last of the complete scholars.” Omole said.
David-West was born in Buguma, Kalabari, in what is now Rivers State. He received his higher education at the University of Ibadan (1956-1958) and earned a BSc degree at Michigan State University (1958-1960), an MSc degree at Yale University (1960-1962), and a PhD degree at McGill University (1964–1966).
He was at Yale when Nigeria attained independence.
After his studies, he returned to Nigeria and became a consultant virologist and senior lecturer at the University of Ibadan in 1969. He was subsequently promoted to professor of virology in 1975.
As an academic, he was the author of academic papers in virology that appeared in scholarly journals such as Journal of Pathology and Bacteriology (1966), Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (1973), Intervirology (1974), and Journal of Hygiene (1974).
He also wrote the book ‘Philosophical Essays: Reflections on the Good Life’ (1980), in which he described himself as a follower of British analytic philosopher and social critic, Bertrand Russell.
David-West’s lecture in philosophy “God, Nature and the Universe” was delivered at the University of Ibadan in 1981.
He continued to write and publish till his later years. At 82, he ate once a day and only slept for four hours. “Ïf I eat twice, I will be lazy, I will not be able to work,” he said.
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