Heroic welcome as Dora Akunyili’s body returns home •Obiano, Gowon, Ike, others pay glowing tributes

Posted by News Express | 27 August 2014 | 5,405 times

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Former Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. (Mrs.) Dora Akunyili, began her final journey to mother earth with a torrent of eulogies from distinguished Nigerians who turned up in large numbers to bid her a final farewell at the special Honours & Tributes Ceremony held in her memory this afternoon at the Women Development Centre, Awka.

A favourite daughter of Anambra, Dora’s body was coming home for the first time since the iconic one-time Director General of the National Agenyy for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) died June 7 in India after a two-year battle with cancer.

Delivering his eulogy, Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, described the late anti-drug czar as a “Tower of Strengthen,” saying: “Dora was such an inspiration to many Nigerians that I find it difficult to think of her within the confines of ethnic origin, which is proudly Igbo.”

Speaking further, Chief Obiano observed that “in her lifetime, Dora meant different things to different people. To her family, she was a loving mother and a caring wife, to the Ndi Anambra, she was a proud daughter and a great ambassador, to Nigerians, she was a crusader, an Amazon and a super-heroine.”

The governor also explained that “in Dora, we witnessed a complete embodiment of the very essence of Ndi Anambra. She was cerebral, proud, bold and friendly with a heart of gold. These are the qualities that we are advocating for Ndi Anambra. Indeed, I was about to name her the Ambassador Plenipotentiary of Anambra State before her passing.”

According to him, “Dora had the gift of grace. Even in the middle of hopelessness of her medical challenges, Dora radiated hope. In truth, Dora was a rare gem. Her life of sacrifice as well as unwavering boldness in defense of truth and justice is a towering legacy that Ndi Anambra are fiercely proud of. It was a great privilege and honour to have known and associated with her.”

Also delivering a moving eulogy, the First Lady of Anambra State, Chief (Mrs.) Ebelechukwu Obiano, observed that “there are some people whose lives give meaning to the lives of others. Our dearest mother, sister, auntie and super-heroine, Prof. Dora Akunyili, was one of such people.”

According to Mrs. Obiano, “there was no challenge that she considered too great for her, neither was any risk too grave once she felt satisfied that the steps she was taking were in the utmost interest of the people. My Prof. was one woman who almost always had her eyes on the prize and in so doing, she became a resounding success.”

Describing her further, the Anambra First Lady observed that “in the field of academics, my Prof. was a colossus amongst men. In public service, my Prof. endeared herself to the world with her dedication and selflessness. In pursuit of social justice, my Prof. was never intimidated by the prospects of paying the high price of standing for what she believed. In all her struggles and advocacies, Dora Akunyili gave hope to the hopeless, sticking out her neck on occasions when less courageous people would have beaten a retreat.”

Talking of her infinite debt of gratitude to the late Amazon, Chief Mrs. Obiano said: “I will never forget her wise advice and motherly counsel that have shaped my understanding of what it means to devote oneself to the service of one’s people. They constitute the basic principles that guide my personal approach to the service of umunwanyi Anambra today. I am eternally grateful to her for making herself a shining example to all women who may find themselves in public service. In her death, humanity is robbed of her genius and redeeming spirit.”

In his own eulogy, war-time Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, described Prof. Akunyili as a great woman. “What is she not? You cannot get a better woman than her. My apologies to my wife. She was a fantastic woman, a fantastic wife, mother and grandmother. I think this nation had one of the greatest gifts of human beings in Dora. Let us rejoice in the life of this great woman. She deserves our prayers and respect,” Gowon said.

In his own tribute, prominent novelist and traditional ruler, Igwe (Prof.) Chukwuemeka Ike, noted that Dora was an outstanding scholar and a remarkable academic.

According to him, all through her stay in the ivory tower where Dora distinguished herself in her earlier career, she was driven by the passion “to seek truth, to teach truth and to preserve truth.”

Also paying growing tributes to the late czar, Bola Obasanjo, the wife of former President Former President Olusegun Obasanjo described Dora as a role model who impacted so many lives. “She was a legend, an icon. She will never be forgotten. She staked her life to save many lives. We all remember that day when the bullet took the cap off her head. We are grateful to God that it did not remove her head that time,” Obasanjo stated.

In the reckoning of Chief Victor Umeh, National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Dora’s passage was a huge loss to the party. Umeh said: “She was a great peace maker. When she saw people quarrelling she would be running from pillar to post. She did it between me and my brother, the former governor (Peter Obi). Dora was thoroughly accomplished. She won everything.”

Late Prof. Akunyili will be buried tomorrow in the Agulu country home of her husband, Dr. Chike Akunyili, drawing the curtain on a week-long funeral that started in Enugu on August 23 and moved to Abuja on the 25th before returning to Enugu yesterday and finally hitting Anambra this afternoon.

Apart from her husband, Dora is survived by six children, three grand children and several relations.

•Photo shows Chief Willie Obiano, Governor of Anambra State, paying his last respect to the body of Prof. Dora Akunyili at the Special Honours & Tributes Ceremony . . . this afternoon in Awka. With him is Ebelechukwu, his wife.

Source: News Express

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