Babatunde Fashola, minister of works, power and housing, has paid an emotional tribute to Calestous Juma, the internationally renowned authority in the application of science and technology to sustainable development.
The Kenyan died in the US on Friday after an illness.
Fashola recalled how the Harvard professor counselled him on the outbreak of Ebola in 2014 when he was governor of Lagos state.
Juma was professor of the practice of international development and faculty chair of the innovation for economic development executive program at Harvard Kennedy School.
He was elected to the Royal Society of London, the US National Academy of Sciences, Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), the UK Royal Academy of Engineering, the African Academy of Sciences and the New York Academy of Sciences.
Fashola’s tribute is published below.
Ode to Calestous Juma
Now I accept. Calestous Juma is human.
The human species will birth, wither and die, what never dies is the good, the impact and happiness they spread.
It is hard to now speak of him in the past. Sadly this is the new normal about Calestous.
A man who personified so much goodness, who impacted lives in profoundly beneficial ways that will be our burden to recount and a man for whom sharing and spreading happiness through development was an all consuming passion.
From the time I met him in 2010, he gave so much of himself to me, the Government of Lagos State while I served and to Nigerians.
He was a true African Patriot. If he came across any datum, book information that he thought would be useful, Calestous made it his responsibility to get it to me.
I would open my mail from time to time and find that “ Santa” Calestous had visited and dropped gifts of development.
He advised me when we confronted the Ebola virus. The Establishment of the Lagos Innovation Advisory Council was informed by his Idea.
His thoughts on Agriculture and Farming were most helpful in shaping our State Agro policy.
If I did not call Calestous never bore a grudge.
In all that he achieved he thought less of himself and more about what he could do to support others.
He was a profound thinker whose mind could pierce through layers of perspectives that many assumed did not exist.
He was a great man in life and I predict that in death he will assume even monumental greatness as many people from different walks of life embark on what I predict will be a journey to understand what we have all now lost.
Goodnight brother, goodnight friend, goodnight counsellor and goodnight citizen of the world.
Goodnight Calestous Juma.
Babatunde Raji Fashola