Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Global Warming paused for Professor Obasi

All weather stopped

Professor Obasi

Courtesy - US Climate Change Science Program

I would like to think that on the third of March 2007, Global Warming paused for a minute of silence to acknowledge and pay respects at the passing of the Secretary-General Emeritus of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

Professor Godwin Olu Patrick Obasi, a Nigerian by birth had many times been elected the Secretary-General of WMO serving from 1984 - 2003, a period of 19 years in which his last election in 1999 still had him garner two-thirds of the votes from a group of three prospective candidates and making that in the first round of voting.

However, the Professor was special and unique in many ways, a Nigerian worthy of emulation who commanded such great respect amongst his peers that all organisations with meteorological interest contributed a press release to announce his passing.

An amazing achiever

His biography reads thus - he first earned a BSc in Mathematics and Physics in 1959 then went to MIT where he excelled with a distinction M.Sc and then a rare D.Sc (Doctor of Science) in Meteorology in 1960 and 1963 respectively winning an award for the best Doctoral thesis.

Now, MIT sets itself apart by being one of the very few exclusive universities that does not offer honorary degrees, you work for and earn your degree at MIT.

Serving Africa with distinction

When he returned to Africa, he managed the Meteorological Department at the University of Nairobi maintaining the position of Dean of the Faculty of Science from 1967 to 1976. He belonged to the breed of seemingly pan-Africanist Nigerians who used their talents to help brother African nations flourish.

One such person was The Honourable Justice T. Akinola Aguda who was the first Chief Justice of Botswana; he established a legacy that still has Botswana as one of the few African countries that does pay heed to its judicial rulings in letter and in spirit.

What however sets this extraordinary achievers and geniuses apart is the fact that little was known of them, apart from what they had to do professionally; they shown unusual humility and left people in no doubt of their integrity, they drew praise and accolades from peers and leaders but none went to their heads.

They understood that they talents were for service rather than hedonistic showmanship exemplified in shameless garrulous self-publicity and the vulgar show of luxuries earned from inordinate pursuit of wealth to the abandonment of principles, values or dignity.

These role models are few and many have gone, however, somehow the technologies of today would not let them be forgotten as we seek that little gem of wisdom about what made them men of achievement, honour and great respect - and they were above all great Nigerians.

Rest in peace - Professor Godwin Olu Patrick Obasi.

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