By Egufe Yafugborhi
Former tourism minister, Alabo Tonye Graham-Douglas, has described the demise of Prof Tam David West as a big, painful loss to Kalabari nation and Nigeria at large as reactions continue to pour in.
David West, former Minister of Petroleum and Consultant Virologist, reportedly died Monday at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State, an environment he remained in retirement before his passage at 83.
Graham-Douglas told Vanguard, “It’s a very shocking, very painful exit. He’s (David West) an accomplished icon, a good image and personality for the Kalabari people, Rivers State and the whole country, Nigeria. He’s a great scholar, very proficient and upright in his dealing.
ALSO READ: Buhari mourns ‘indomitable’ David West
He’s someone you couldn’t corrupt as he speaks his mind, a very patriotic personality who has served the country, both in government and the academia. A very painful loss at that.”
Zik Gbemre, National Coordinator, Niger Delta Peace Coalition, said: “Prof David West lived a quiet life after serving the government. He was not known to have amassed illegal wealth with his office as a Minister of Petroleum under then military government.
“Even as a Minister, he retained his official residence in the University of Ibadan, UI, and was always going there for weekends. Even after public life, he went back to UI and continued his teaching, and not much was heard about him from that point.”
David-West setoff his higher education at the UI (1956–1958), and further to earn a BSc at Michigan State University (1958–1960), MSc degree at Yale University (1960–1962), and PhD at McGill University.
He was Commissioner for Education, member, Executive Council of Rivers State (1975–1979), member, Constitution Drafting Committee for the Federal Military Government of Gen Murtala Muhammed (1979).
He served as Minister of Petroleum and Energy under Gen Muhammadu Buhari regime (1984–1985), minister of mines, power, and steel under Gen Ibrahim Babangida (1986).
The Babangida regime eventually sacked and arrested him for allegedly contributing to the economic adversity of the country; He was discharged and acquitted of these charges by Nigeria’s Special Appeal Court on 8 August 1991.