In memory of former the WMO Secretary-General Professor Godwin Patrick Olu Obasi
World Meteorological Organization, Professor Godwin P. Obasi, Nigeria, Secretary-General, atmosphere, fresh water and the oceans
Professor Obasi, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), from 1 January 1984 to 31 December 2003 passed away on 3 March in Abuja, Nigeria.
Professor Obasi, aged 74, held a B.Sc (Honors) degree in Mathematics and Physics from McGill University, Montreal, Canada, a Master of Science degree and a Doctorate in meteorology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA. He won the Carl Tossby Award for the best doctoral degree thesis.
Following his graduation, Professor Obasi joined the National Meteorological Service of Nigeria. Four years later, he joined the Faculty of the University of Nairobi, where he was later appointed Chairman of the Department of Meteorology and Dean of the Faculty of Science. In 1978, he moved to Geneva to join the WMO Secretariat as Director of the Education and Training Department.
In May 1983, he was elected Secretary-General of WMO by the World Meteorological Congress with a four-year mandate beginning on 1 January 1984. He was subsequently re-elected for four more terms (in 1987, 1991, 1995 and 1999). Upon completion of his fifth term, he became Secretary-General Emeritus of WMO, as was decided by the fourteenth World Meteorological Congress.
During his tenure, Prof. Obasi was active in promoting global solutions to environmental issues, with special attention to the atmosphere, fresh water and the oceans. He was at the forefront in drawing the world’s attention to the issue of climate change, notably in convening the second World Climate Conference, held in Geneva in 1990. He played an important role in the negotiations leading to the establishment of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the World Climate Research Programme, the Global Climate Observing System and the Vienna Convention on the Protection of the Ozone Layer and its Montreal Protocol.
Professor Obasi’s name is closely associated with scientific breakthroughs in his field of specialization –– atmospheric dynamics –– including experiments related to the West African Monsoon and to global atmospheric research. He was honoured by many professional meteorological and hydrological societies, academies of sciences and universities throughout the world.
For those of us who had the chance of working with Professor Obasi, we highly cherish the memories of this great man who dedicated his whole life to meteorological sciences. A man of honour, and who was afraid of nothing –– except God, as Prof. Obasi himself used to say –– he was highly respected not only by his staff but also among scientists, meteorologists and diplomats. We here at DIVA present our sincere condolences to his family and friends.