Nigeria: Ex-Minister of Petroleum, Tam David-West, Is Dead

11 November 2019

A former Minister of Petroleum in Nigeria, Tam David-West, is dead.

He was 83 years old.

Mr David-West, a renowned professor of virology, was the minister of petroleum and energy from 1984 to 1985 under the military administration of Muhammadu Buhari.

Nigeria's presidency broke the news of the passing on of Mr David-West through a statement issued on Monday afternoon.

"He had an indomitable spirit, stood resolutely by whatever he believed in, and was in a class of his own," President Buhari said of the late former minister, according to the statement.

The president condoled with the family of the late Mr David-West and the people of Buguma, Kalabari Kingdom of Rivers State over his death.

"President Buhari prays that God will rest the soul of the committed nationalist, urging all those who believe in the ideals he espoused to approximate same, for the betterment of Nigeria, and humanity in general," said the statement, signed by Femi Adesina, a media aide to Mr Buhari.

After serving under Mr Buhari's military administration, the Mr David-West was appointed Minister of Mines, Power, and Steel by Ibrahim Babangida, the military general who overthrew Mr Buhari's administration.

Mr David-West was later sacked and arrested by Mr Babangida's government which accused him of contributing to Nigeria's "economic adversity". He was accused of trading off Nigeria's economic interest for a cup of tea and a wristwatch.

He was acquitted of the charges against him.

"I don't like recalling the wickedness of Ibrahim Babangida and Jibril Aminu against me," Mr David-West said to The Sun newspaper in January 2018.

"Aminu was then the Minister of Petroleum. I don't want to recall it because it makes me sad. I wonder how a fellow human being could be so wicked, especially somebody that you served so well.

"All they said about the tea and wristwatch was a fat big lie and fraud. It was tagged $57million tea and wristwatch. I have written two books on it. It was an absolute lie. They should pray to God to forgive them because they sinned against an innocent person," he had said in an interview with the paper.

Mr David-West studied at the University of Ibadan; Michigan State University, and Yale University, both in the United States of America. He also studied at McGill University, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

President Buhari described the late Mr David-West as his "ally" and "friend".

The president was fond of calling him "the indomitable Tam David-West," the statement from the presidency said.

Mr David-West was a constant and controversial critic of the Nigerian government.

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