By Stephen Ubanna
The people of Rivers state, south –south Nigeria , Academic Community and Human Rights Organizations , appear to have been thrown into mourning over the death of the 83-year old David- West , and a professor of Virology at University o ,Ibadan Teaching Hospital, Oyo state, south west Nigeria, on Monday, November 11, 2019 .
In Rivers state, particular, from Buguma, his home town, Abonnema, Okirika to Port Harcourt and other major towns in the state, wherever two or three people had gathered, the death of the erudite Professor, who had served the state and the country at various capacities, dominated their discussion.
Indeed, given his contributions to the development of Education in the Oil rich state, many expect , Nyesom Wike, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, governor of the state , to declare a one day –public Holiday for him , without bringing politics into it by thinking that doing so will mean being sympathetic to the cause of the All Progressive Congress, APC, to which he had his undeclared support because of the involvement of President Muhammadu Buhari, his close ally in the party.
Described as an indomitable Spirit by the Katsina state born Nigerian president , who was said to have beoame one of his closest allies when he served as Federal Commissioner of Petroleum Resources and Energy, in his government as a military Head of State between December 31, 1983 and August 25, 1985.
F Until his death last Monday, the late Professor, was said to have been suffering from an undisclosed disease over the years , thus making him a regular patient of the University of Ibadan Teaching Hospital . The sickness was said to have also reduced the Human Rights activist and social critic public appearance.
Family sources disclosed that prior to his death, on Monday, he had already spent 11 days at the Teaching Hospital battling for survival. The University Medical Doctors attending to him in his private Suite were said to have done everything within their medical knowledge to keep him alive but that was how far they could go. He died. Toye Akinrinola, the Teaching Hospital , Spokesperson, reportedly said that the’’ cause of the death of the former minister remain unknown’’.
Many believe that the Hospital Authorities and the family members may have kept the late Professor’s sickness a closely guided secret to avoid drawing public attention to him and making it a national issue. The late Professor may not have also helped matters as he was said to maintained a sealed lips to his kind of ailment until death came calling, which he could not resist because of old age.
University of Ibadan sources confirmed that none of his Children were with him on the Hospital bed when he breathed his last as they were all based in Port Harcourt. They were said to have made their way to Ibadan , when information filtered to them about his death .
Idowu Olayinka, a Professor and Vice Chancellor, of the University of Ibadan, where the Rivers state born Professor of Virology, had died at his Teaching Hospital but who could not hold back his deep seated feelings lamented that the death of David-West was a ‘’ big loss to the academic family all over the world’’ noting that the’’ vacuum created by the deceased would be difficult to fill’’.
A Statement by Olatunji Oladejo, a Professor and the University Director of Public Communication , described the Late Professor as a ‘’mentor of many generations of Virologists all over the world’’. The Statement further stressed that even at retirement ,’’ he was still very useful to the academic family’’.
Deji Omole, a Professor , and Chairman , Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASSU, University of Ibadan, Chapter, disclosed that throughout his life time, he was a supporter of the Union. The University ASUU Chairman, pointed out that the late Don’’ knew and articulated a clear vision of what a University ought to be ‘’ and which had been imbibed by the Universit Community.
Wike, the governor o Rivers state, who could not hide his feelings over the death of the Professor of Virology described him as a ‘’huge loss to the people of the state’’. The ruling APC, on its part , noted that with the Professor’s death ‘’ the country has lost a progressive voice and social critic who spoke truth to power. There is no gain saying the fact that the late Professor during his life time had held past and present leaders accountable on issues relating to ‘’good governance’’.
Until his death, the erudite Academician was said to have written many accademic papers on Virology that had appeared in many International and local scholarly Journals such as the Journal of Pathology and Bacteriology , 1966, Transactions of The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 1973, Intervirology , 1974 and Journal of Hygiene, 1974.
His other scholarly works include Philosophical Essays : Reflections on the Good Life, 1980, a book in which he was said to have described himself as a follower of the British Social Critic and analytic Philosopher, Bertrand Russel.
He was said to have written two Books on his friend, Buhari, which were never made known to him. One of the books was : Who Really is General Muhammadu Buhari and the Sixteen Sins’ of General Muhammdu Buhari. The first book was said to have been published in 2009 and the second book in 2010, ahead of the 2011, Presidential election in the country. Buhari had lost the election to former President Goodluck Jonathan. There are several other published works of the late Professor, which are too numerous to itemize.
Born in 1936, in Buguma, Kalabari, Davis-West, received his tertiary Education at then University College, Ibadan between 1956 and 1958 and Michigan State University , United States,1958 – 1960 where he bagged his Bsc. He was said to got his MSc Degree at Yale University, of the prestigious Universities in the world between 1960-1062 and a PhD Degree at Mcgill University, 1964 -1966.
He had returned to the country 1969 after his studies and took up appointment at the then University College, Ibadan, now University of Ibadan, as a Consultant Virologist and senior Lecturer. given his prolific writings and presentation of academic papers, he was subsequently promoted a Professor of virology in 1975.