Posted by News Express | 11 June 2014 | 3,833 times
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) today held a valedictory session to pay tribute to its former member, late Professor Dora Akunyili. Some of the cabinet member almost shed tears while recounting her contributions to nation building when she was alive.
The former Information Minister and Director-General of the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) died in an Indian hospital last Friday after a battle with cancer.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who opened the special FEC session, set the ball rolling for tributes from members of the council which shelved its usual business session aside to pave way to honour the late Akunyili.
Jonathan recalled how he first met with the Akunyili when he was Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, saying he had invited her for breakfast during one of her NAFDAC engagements in the state.
The president said Akunyili had complained that the bread served at the breakfast table was not warmed and warned that it could contain germs and thereafter summoned the cooks to tongue lash them for their neglect.
He said Akunyili had gone about her work with passion as a very courageous woman, recalling that when she was appointed as NAFDAC’s DG, people said most people in the fake drug business were her kinsmen and she would not fight them but she proved them wrong.
According to Jonathan, the late Akunyili who also introduced a programme to rebrand the country with the popular slogan “Good People, Great Nation” when she was Information Minister was “a virtuous woman who is not easy to come by.”
“She is not with us but I believe this is how God wanted it. He saved her life from the (assassin) bullet. If He didn’t want it (her deathy, He could have saved her life from the sting of sickness,” he added.
Vice President Namadi Sambo in his tribute, observed that Akunyili’s death was a great loss not only to her family but to the nation, adding that she was a patriotic Nigerian who left an indelible mark in the country.
“She developed a system to rebrand this country as minister of Information. She ensured that the issue of fake drug in Nigeria was addressed,” Sambo said.
The Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Ayim Pius Ayim, described her as a true nationalist and a reformer while the Head of Service. Alhaji Goni Aji, said NAFDAC under Akunyili emerged first in the rankings under the civil service programme to transform it into a world class service.
Anyim attributed the feat to the leadership displayed by Akunyili, saying that “for this and all other achievements of Akunyili, the civil service will greatly miss her.”
Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, noted that Akunyili was a woman of strength and passion “who spoke and worked with passion”, even as she recalled that during her time, NAFDAC was consistently voted the best government agency because of her diligence.
Minister of Solid Minerals, Alhaji Musa Sada, said she called everybody she came across “brother” while “she was not willing to slow down for anything she believed was good for the country.”
Minister of Power, Prof Chinedu Nebo, noted that Prof. Akunyili was “very forthright, honest and diligent” and was courageous enough to speak out during the dark part of the nation’s history.
The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Nwogu, who described Akunyili’s death as a rude shock, noted that even at the risk of her life, she remained committed to the work in NAFDAC in the interest of the nation.
Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musliu Obanikoro, described Akunyili as a woman blessed with uncommon candour who put up a stellar performance as DG NAFDAC.
“A great woman and above all, a woman of history,” he said even as the Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen, observed that Akunyili was, indeed, an Amazon who contributed her quota to the development of the nation.
He recalled that the late member of the National Conference had lauded the present administration on the implementation of the 2nd Niger Bridge and implored it not to disappoint on the yearning of the people of the South East.
The Health Minister, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, said he was pained by the death of “an outstanding patriot who believed in the good of the people,” while Minister for Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, remarked that her death was a dark moment in life of the country.
The Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, moved the motion to condole President Jonathan, the nation and Akunyili’s immediate family and was seconded by his Water Resources colleague, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe.
In moving the motion, Maku said Akunyili, under whom he served as Minister of State for Information, took on the most difficult task and easily became a household name, adding that she was outstanding in her courage and often influenced her environment.
He said: “She was an exceedingly beautiful woman and her disposition made her a role model. It is a credit to her that even at the stage she was, she was still willing to serve the country. She served Nigeria unto death.
“Such was her commitment to our country, such was her patriotism. Her values will not go down with her. She has left a lot of impression on women in the country. Even though her chapter is closed, the things she did will outlive her.”
•Adapted from a LEADERSHIP report. Photo shows late Prof. Akunyili.
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