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Dora Akunyili goes home in a blaze of glory •2 Cardinals, 28 Bishops, over 100 priests officiate at burial

By Pamela Eboh, Awka on 28/08/2014

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Cardinal Francis Arinze, former Head of Inter Religious Affairs at the Vatican, led the Concelebrated Requiem Mass for the late Professor Dora Akunyili who was laid to mother earth today in her home town of Agulu in Anaocha local government area of Anambra State. Also in the train of officiating ministers were John Cardinal Onaiyekan, 28 Bishops and Archbishops and about 100 priests from the various Dioceses in the country.

Also present were former head of state, General Yakubu Gowon and his wife who were at the Honours and tributes ceremony yesterday at the Women Development Center, former vice president, Dr. Alex Ekwueme and his wife, Governor Willie Obiano and his wife, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, immediate past Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi and his wife, as well as the wife of Abia State governor, Mrs. Odochi Orji, and her Ebonyi State counterpart, Mrs. Josephine Egwu.

Senators Andy Uba, Chris Ngige, Annie Okonkwo, former Governors Chukwuemeka Ezeife of Anambra State, Sam Egwu of Ebonyi State, Admiral Allison Madueke, as well as federal ministers namely, Labaran Maku (Information), Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu (Health) and  Professor Chinedu Nebo (Power), were also present.

Successor of Professor Akunyili at NAFDAC, Dr. Paul Orhi, director general of the Standards Organization of Nigeria, SON, Dr. Joseph Odumodu and that of the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Arunma Otteh were there too.

Akunyili who died on June 7, 2014 after a two year battle with cancer, still professed love for Nigeria even while sick and frail.

The entire Agulu town witnessed a grand final home coming of an Amazon as entire arena of the magnificent Madonna Catholic Church, Agulu was filled to capacity and traffic along the Awka –Ekwulobia road was brought to a standstill for the over four hours the ceremony lasted.

At some point, the road was closed completely such that people travelling to other states from Anambra had to find alternative routes.

Incidentally, the funeral Mass for Dora at the Church was the first ceremony there since six years when its renovation began, with the priest in charge of the church saying that Professor Akunyili donated N40 million to ensure it was completed.

For a United States of America-based priest, Rev Fr. Damian Akpunonu, who delivered the homily at the church service, said that though the late Dora would have served Nigeria more if she lived longer, God knew why she had to bow out at the age of 60 years.

He noted that the good thing was that Professor Akunyili lived a life worthy of emulation as she infested love to all those who came across her.

“Dora’s husband, Chike, may still not believe that his wife is no more having spent so much spiritually and materially to save her life, but the will of God must be done.

“At the speed Dora was moving, many people had predicted a very bright political future for her, but men propose, but God disposes.

“For years, Dora’s name reverberated in Nigeria and in all the places she served her country and our prayer is that God should provide us with another Dora to comfort us. In addition to serving humanity well, she also served God well and we believe that God will reward her immensely”, the priest said.

According to him, what matters in life is not how long one lived, but how well, adding that the ceremony was not necessarily to bury Professor Akunyili since Jesus Christ had conquered death, but to give testimony to the legacies she left behind.

Rev Akpunonu stressed that the task before Nigerians was to keep Dora’s legacies alive.

On his part Governor Willie Obiano, who spoke on behalf of Anambra State, said that the late Akunyili truly lived what Anambra stands for which is ‘The Light of the Nation’.

He urged Nigerians to key into the rebranding programme she initiated when she was the Minister of Information which was ‘Good people, great nation’.

Speaking on the lessons to be learnt from her death, former governor Peter Obi said it showed the transient nature of earthly life and the futility of being a slave to earthly attractions.

Obi added that if heaven were attained by testimonies of people, he was sure Prof. Dora Akunyili was in heaven already, saying that she would continue to be remembered as an Amazon who left her society a better place by the force of her conviction that submitted to a strong will to excel in all circumstances.

After the church service, the body of Prof. Akunyili was taken back to the husband’s house, where it was buried shortly before 3pm, drawing the curtain on a week-long funeral programme that started with a Wake-Keep last Friday at the family house in neighbouring Enugu State.   

•Photo shows a procession of Catholic Cardinals and Bishops who officiated at the burial of Prof. Dora Akunyili . . . this morning at Agulu, Anambra State.

Source News Express

Posted 29/08/2014 02:04:46 AM





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