News

A mighty oak tree has fallen, and the Champion is gone

2 August 2017
Ghana's Delegation with Mrs Osotimehin
Professor Babatunde Olukayode Bamidele Osotimehin was the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund UNFPA and the Under Secretary General of the UN from 2011 to 2017. He died in line of duty and was buried in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria on 21 July 2017. The burial mass attracted the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Amina, J Mohammed, Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UNFPA Acting Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem, HE Olesegun Obasanjo the former President of Nigeria, ministers of state, government officials, staff of UNFPA and the UN fraternity at large.
 
Ghana’s eight member delegation was led by the UNFPA Ghana Representative Mr. Niyi Ojuolape, who also functioned as the general coordinator of the funeral. Mr. Ojuolape who had worked closely with the ED for over a decade had this to say “It was always evident that he cared deeply for the marginalized and made it his life’s mission to be the voice of the voiceless, and champion the fight for equal rights for women, girls and young people everywhere. Professor Osotimehin was a man who was unafraid of any challenge and was unwilling to compromise on his ultimate goal- the realization of a world where every person is afforded their fundamental human rights and allowed to reach their full potential.” According to Mr. Ojuolape, in order to keep his memory alive, we need to strive hard for Ghana and the entire African continent to harness the demographic dividend and keep the issues of the adolescent girl high on the agenda of the continent.
 
In a homily at the burial mass, Right Reverend G. L. Lasebikan of the All Souls' Anglican Church Bodija, Ibadan, said as humans, we must make conscious efforts to leave legacies that will impact societies. He said human beings go through four stages in life as listed and elaborated below: 
Aspire 
Perspire 
Acquire 
Expire
 
“As we grow up we aspire and desire to achieve a career or some level of success. This desire, leads us to perspire. At this stage we struggle to make it be doctors, lawyers, architects, artists, business persons, just name them. We work hard to be the best we can, we accumulate degrees, certificates, awards and then comes the third stage. We start to acquire houses, cars, clothes, jewelry. While waiting to relax and enjoy what you have acquired, then comes the last stage: expire. He admonished everyone to beware of the expiration and ensure we positively change or positively impact many lives as we can whilst we are still on earth.” 
 
The Ghana Country Office staff eulogized the ED as “What else can we say? We saw you, we interacted with you, we drunk pepper soup with chunks of mutton with you, we took photos with you and the moment was all full of memories. Yes it is full of memories since we last met. We have kept those memorable moments. The Parliament of Ghana had acclaimed: “Come back again; come back again” A million times we will need you and a million times we will recall the memories of Babatunde Osotimehin  our beloved Executive Director. Your passion for the elimination of harmful practices against women and girls, your commitment to the issues of young people is your bequest to UNFPA. A champion is gone, the mighty oak tree has fallen. Fare thee well Father, fare thee well comrade”