Ex-minister, Tam David-West, dies at 83

Late Prof. Tam David-West

…Buhari, Lawan, Omo-Agege, APC mourn


A former Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Professor Tam David-West, died yesterday at 83.

A family source said David-West had been bedridden for 11 days at a private ward of the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan.

The source said the elder statesman died around 11am.

The Public Relations Officer of the UCH, Mr. Toye Akinrinlola, who confirmed the death of David-West, declined to make comments on the cause of the death.

David-West, who was born in Buguma, Kalabari, in what is now Rivers State, 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 served as a member of the fifty-person Constitution Drafting Committee for the Federal Military Government of General Murtala Muhammed (1979).

He served as Minster of Petroleum between 1983 and 1985 during the military regime of General Muhammadu Buhari and later served General Ibrahim Babangida as a minister of Steel and Mine.

The deceased, who was removed as minister and arrested by the Babangida regime for allegedly contributing to the economic adversity of the country, was discharged and acquitted of the charges by Nigeria’s Special Appeal Court on 8 August 1991.

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday voiced deep sorrow at the passage of his ally and friend, David-West.

Buhari, in a statement by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, said “the indomitable Tam David-West” had an indomitable spirit, stood resolutely by whatever he believed in, and was in a class of his own.

“Professor Tamunoemi Sokari David-West, 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 regime,” Buhari said of the academic, author of many books, and social critic.

He commiserated with the David-West family, the people of Buguma, Kalabari Kingdom of Rivers State, the academia, and all those who loved “the forthright Tam David-West.”

Buhari, who prayed that God rest the soul of the committed nationalist, urged all those who believed in the ideals he espoused to approximate same, for the betterment of Nigeria, and humanity in general.

In the same vein, Senate President Ahmad Lawan mourned David-West, describing him as vocal social critic who lived what he preached and never compromised his principles all through his lifetime.

In a statement by his spokesman, Ola Awoniyi, Lawan said David-West would be missed for his deep and frank analysis of social challenges.

“Aside from pointing directions from the ivory tower, when the calls came for him to serve at the highest level of government, he discharged his duties diligently and conscientiously,” he said.

He said David-West contributed immensely to the development of Nigeria as a teacher and political office holder.

Condoling with his family, the government and people of Rivers State, Lawan prayed God give them the fortitude to bear the great loss.

Similarly, Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege mourned David-West, describing him as a great patriot and intellectual of formidable standing at home and abroad.

Omo-Agege, in a statement  by his spokesman, Yomi Odunuga, said David-West ‘s death was a great loss to the nation.

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