The occasion paraded who-is-who in Igbo land though it was not a political gathering.
The Igbo personalities had gathered to honour their fallen illustrious daughter, the late Prof Dora Akunyili in a lecture organized to immortalize her name.
Taking the first shot in the lecture that had two parts, former Minister for Power, Prof Chinedu Nebo, called on the Federal Government to immortalize the late ex-Information Minister, Prof Akunyili, to serve as an inspiration for the younger generation to do good for their country.
In his lecture entitled: “Dora Akunyili and her uncommon legacy”, at the first memorial anniversary of the late NAFDAC director general in Enugu, Prof Nebo believed that if Mrs Akunyili was immortalized, the young ones would not only be motivated, but would also be “encouraged by the fact that when they demonstrate good leadership, their labours for our country would never be in vain.”
He commended the Anambra State government led by Chief Willie Obiano for taking the lead in immortalizing the late Akunyili as a mark of honour for her numerous contributions to nation building.
Nebo who is also a former vice chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, recalled that as information minister, Prof. Akunyili understood very well the place of information in national development.
He noted that during her tenure as minister, Akunyili worked tirelessly to rebrand Nigeria thereby giving the country an enviable image abroad, adding that “she dutifully guided her work team to bring to the fore those marvelous and imperishable beauty in our diverse cultures, instead of nosing around for bad news to report”.
According to him, “in some circles abroad, all one needed to obtain some special favours was to claim that you are from Dora Akunyili’s country”.
Prof. Nebo said that while working as director general of NAFDAC, Akunyili applied rare strategic thinking and planning skills to engage both national and international agencies in the war against fake drugs.
His words: “Her efforts yielded substantial fruits and the merchants of death sought to kill her when they couldn’t dismantle Dora’s incorruptibility. The challenges she faced were overwhelming, yet she remained undaunted; exhibiting the fireworks of an indomitable spirit, as she tackled them masterfully”.
Describing Akunyili as a “celebrated African amazon, a professional titan, an altruistic patriot, a communication guru and a unique public servant of incredible depth, an icon of a quintessential Ada Ndigbo,” Nebo pointed out that her virtues were too numerous to amalgamate into one lecture, and prayed God to give Nigeria another Dora Akunyili.
In the part two of the lecture, former Anambra State governor, Mr Peter Obi, eulogized the late Akunyili, describing her as a committed Nigerian who was ready to sacrifice her life to save the country.
Obi recalled how Mrs Akunyili shutdown the Onitsha Main Market to rid the market of fake drugs, shortly after having breakfast with him in his house without disclosing her intentions to him, showering praises on her for her courage.
His words: “She did not want to tell me of her plan because she didn’t want my opinion, she knew the action was negative to my government, but she was convinced her action was in the best interest of the country, Dora was a role model any country would pray to have.”
Obi noted that to further demonstrate her love for Nigeria, Mrs Akunyili, even in her last days in an Indian hospital, was still asking him of the security situation in Nigeria and the whereabouts of the Chibok girls.
Also speaking, the chairman on the occasion and former Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim, noted that Mrs Akunyili was a great patriot who served her husband, Dr Chike Akunyili, and the nation well, saying it would be difficult to find a replacement of her person.
Earlier, Mrs Akunyili’s husband, Dr Chike Akunyili, who is the proprietor of St. Leo’s Specialist Hospital, Trans-Ekulu, Enugu, and his first daughter, Dr Ije Akunyili Achy-Brou, who spoke for the family, said they had been consoled greatly by the amount of encomia poured on their matriarch by Nigerians and foreigners since her death last year.
In a rather emotional remark, her daughter, Dr Achy-Brou, told the large audience that “my mother was my best girlfriend, she loved God, she loved poor people, I urge Nigerians to learn how to treat persons that are hardly noticed”.
Also former Nigerian Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, in a tribute, described the late Akunyili as an unforgettable amazon and most caring mother who belonged to the rank of those in the likes of Nelson Mandela, Ziks, Awolowo and Ojukwu who lived for the people, pointing out that he and his wife, Victoria Gowon, cherished her charm and passion for excellence.
Dignitaries who attended the memorial lecture included: the Chief Medical Director of UNTH Enugu, Dr Chris Amah, one’time Minister for Information, Chief Nnia John Nwodo Jr, Catholic Bishop of Nsukka Diocese, Prof. Godfrey Onah, Provost College of Medicine, UNN, Prof. Ernest Onwasigwe, Obi of Onitsha, Nnemeka Achebe, Agbogidi, Dr Uche Akabuike who represented governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State, and Dr Izuchukwu Okam of the department of Obstetrics and gynecology, UNTH.
Others are the wife of Chief Tony Anini, a PDP chieftain, renowned surgeon at UNTH, Dr. Joseph Okafor of the accident and emergency Unit, Prof. Margaret Aghaji of UNN and former Provost College of Medicine, UNN, Prof. Basden Onwubere and wife Lady Akwaugo as well as the former dean, Faculty of Dentistry, UNN, and Dr. Linda Oge Okoye, among others.
It will be recalled that Mrs Akunyili rose to the status of professor of pharmacy at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, when Prof. Chinedu Nebo was vice chancellor.
Culled from: sunnewsonline.com