‘Her life of service to God and fatherland is our strength’ – CHILDREN
THE remains of the former Director-General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration & Control (NAFDAC), Professor Dora Nkem Akunyili would arrive Nigeria this week, a reliable family source has informed ENCOMIUM Weekly. It has also been revealed that Dora’s hubby, Dr. Chike Akunyili who accompanied her to India for the cancer treatment has concluded all necessary arrangements and documentation to fly home the amazon whose death on Saturday, June 7, 2014 has elicited so much empathy from Nigerians and the international community.
“The late Dora Akunyili would be flown to Nigeria this week. As I talk with you, her husband, Dr. Chike Akunyili is still there to make sure madam’s body returns to her fatherland as early as possible. You know he has been there before and after she passed on.”
Meanwhile, speculations that Professor Akunyili would be given a state burial gained more credence over the weekend even as South-East governors met in Enugu to plan a befitting burial for her.
A very senior journalist of South-East origin, who wished not to confirm this on Monday, June 9, 2014, chatted on phone with ENCOMIUM Weekly. According to him, the governors led by their chairman, Abia’s Chief T. A. Orji actually met for several hours in Enugu, the former regional headquarters of the Igbos. At the meeting, held on Sunday, the governors condoled with the Akunyilis and raised a committee to liaise with the Federal Government to ensure that their most distinguished daughter is given a befitting burial.
Contacted for comments on the development on Monday, June 9, Akunyili’s media consultant, Mr. Isaac Umunna told ENCOMIUM Weekly he can’t speak for South-East Governors. He, however, said he was aware of the clamour by groups and indeed eminent Nigerian to give the fallen heroine nothing short of befitting burial if not a state burial.
Umunna also confirmed that Dr. Chike Akunyili is yet to arrive Nigeria, which was why former Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi had to issue a statement on behalf of his family. The first official statement that confirmed Dora Akunyili’s demise, Obi said he was with her in India last month. He also told Nigerians she died in a specialist cancer hospital.
“On behalf of the Akunyili family, I wish to officially confirm the death of Prof. (Mrs.) Dora Nkem Akunyili, OFR, in a specialist cancer hospital in India this morning at 10 a.m (sic), Nigerian time, after a two-year battle with cancer.”
In spite of her illness, Prof. Akunyili was unwavering in her belief in a better Nigeria. That was why she defied her condition and was part of Anambra State Handover Committee and the National Conference, he stated.
“The last time I visited her in India, even when she needed all the prayers herself, she was full of concern for the abducted Chibok girls, security and other challenges facing the country and told me that she remained prayerful for the release of those girls and for God to help President Goodluck Jonathan to overcome all the challenges facing the nation.
“She, therefore, urged all Nigerians to remain prayerful and committed to building a better society for our children. We all prayed together and promised to be visiting her every month,” Anambra’s immediate past governor concluded.
TRIBUTE GALORE FOR PROF. AKUNYILI
RELATEDLY, Nigerians from all walks of life have been pouring in their condolences. President Goodluck Jonathan who idolized Prof. Akunyili as a distinguished citizen and patriot said he received the news of her demise with shock and sadness.
President Jonathan believes Professor Akunyili would live long in the memories of many who were privileged to know her as a diligent professional, a public spirited and forthright public officer and a person of great convictions. He also hailed her tenure at NAFDAC and contribution to nation building.
Virtually all state governors, the leadership and members of the National Assembly, ministers and eminent Nigerians including former President Olusegun Obasanjo have also sent condolence messages to the family of the former Minister of Information and Communication.
‘Her life of service to God and fatherland is our strength’ – CHIDIOGO AKUNYILI, Daughter
One of the daughters of the late Professor of Pharmacology, Dora Akunyili, Chidiogo has paid tribute to her amazing mom. The Economics and International Relations graduate of John Hopkins University, Maryland, United States wrote on her Facebook wall on Sunday, June 8, 2014: “To many, she was an icon. To others, she was an inspiration. To me, she was my mother and all of the above. What I told her just last week stays with me, I’m your daughter, and you raised me, you have been (in the midst of everything), mummy and that is the strength that is now mine and all of us your children. It is also the strength of a whole nation…you touched so many lives, and that is a blessing that must not be taken lightly. Thank you all so much, my dear friends from the bottom of my heart for your kind words. Mummy, may your soul rest in eternal peace. One with God, who you loved and served above all else.”
‘You are a source of inspiration’ – CHIAMAKA AKUNYILI, Niece
Also on Facebook on Sunday, June 8, 2014, her niece, Chiamaka Akunyili sang the fallen amazon’s praises: “RIP, Prof. Dora Akunyili, you are a source of inspiration and an achiever.”
Chiamaka who is based in the United States got married to Paul Chikelundu Ezeugo, from Abatete, Anambra State only last month
How she ‘died’ many times before her death
Professor Akunyili was ironically pronounced dead many times before she finally passed on Saturday, June 7, 2014 at the age of 59 (she was born on July 14, 1954).
Rumour mongers, week after week, actually reported the lady of substance dead. Not even her husband’s occasional clarifications that she was only sick and alive could convince Nigerians who used every opportunity to circulate the unfounded news of the passing on of the Anambra delegate to the on-going constitutional conference.
Ex-Governor Peter Obi’s statement on Saturday, June 7 only helped to rubbish their previous assumptions.
HER LIFE AND TIMES
DORA Nkem Akunyili (July 14, 1954 – June 7, 2014) born in Makurdi, Benue State was the former Director General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and former Nigerian Minister of Information and Communications (December 17, 2008 -December 15, 2010). She is a pharmacist and governmental administrator who has gained international recognition and won hundreds of awards for her work in pharmacology, public health and human rights.
Akunyili ran for election as Senator for Anambra Central on the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) ticket in April 2011 but was defeated by Senator Chris Ngige of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). She immediately sent a petition to the Independent National Electoral Commission disputing the result. She died in an India hospital June 7, 2014 after a battle with cancer.
Akunyili hails from Nanka and married in Agulu, both in Anambra State of Nigeria. Akunyili’s educational career started with her passing the First School Leaving Certificate with Distinction at St. Patrick’s Primary School, Isuofia, Anambra State in 1966, and the West African School Certificate (W.A.S.C.) with Grade I Distinction in 1973 from Queen of the Rosary Secondary School, Nsukka, Enugu State.
These exceptional results in the First School Leaving Certificate, and W.A.S.C. earned her the Eastern Nigerian Government Post Primary Scholarship and the Federal Government of Nigeria Undergraduate Scholarship. She got her first degree in Pharmacy B.Pharm (Hons) in 1978 and her PhD in 1985 from U.N.N. Prof. Akunyili was a Post Doctorate Fellow of University of London and a Fellow of the West African Post Graduate College of Pharmacists. To prepare her for Managerial positions, she was trained on Senior Management skills Course in RIPA, London and Computer Education Programme by WHO/UNDP/World Bank Sponsored, Enugu in 1998 and 1994, respectively. Dr. Akunyili has enjoyed many academic awards and recognitions.
She started her working career as a Hospital Pharmacist from 1978-1981, in the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (U.N.T.H) Enugu, after which she ventured into academics as a Graduate Assistant (Research Fellow) in Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, U.N.N. from 1982-1986. In the university system, she made a steady progress from Lecturer I in 1986 until she was made Senior Lecturer in 1990. She transferred to College of Medicine, U.N.N. in 1992, where she was made a Consultant Pharmacologist in 1996, a position she held until April 12, 2001. Due to her love for teaching and nurturing young ones, she was also a part-time lecturer of the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists, Lagos, Nigeria from 1992-1995.
Prof. (Mrs.) Dora Akunyili was also prepared for the present Administrative position by her four years stint as Zonal Secretary of Petroleum Special Trust Fund (P.T.F.), coordinating all projects in the five South Eastern States of Nigeria (Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States). She also served as a Supervisor for Agriculture and Member of the Caretaker Committee for her Local Government, Aniocha Local Government Area of Anambra State from 1994 to 1996. From 1992 to 1994, Prof. Akunyili served as a member of State’s Hospitals Management Board and State Advisory Council for Women Commission both in Anambra State of Nigeria.
As a Scientist and a Scholar, she has presented 19 papers in various local and International Scientific Conferences, and published a book and 18 Journal Articles. She has supervised PhD and Masters candidates in Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka and U.N.N. respectively. Even as the Director General of NAFDAC, Dr. Akunyili still found time to supervise six Postgraduate students in the College of Medicine U.N.N. She has also been Chief Examiner in Pharmacology for thirrd M.B.B.S College of Medicine, Abia State University, Uturu, Nigeria.
Prof. Dr. (Mrs.) Dora Akunyili was also a very active member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (P.S.N.) where she served in the following capacities:
– P.S.N. Education Committee as Secretary from 1994-2000
– Organizing Committee for Enugu State P.S.N. Annual Conference as Secretary 1995
– Nigerian Association of Academic Pharmacists as National Asst. Sec. from 1990-1994
– Association of Lady Pharmacists as National Vice-President from 19921995, National Ex Officio Member 1995-2000 and President of Enugu State branch from 1992-1998.
She was a member of other learned societies among which are Nigerian Society for Pharmacology, West African Society for Pharmacology, International Union of Pharmacology and International Pharmaceutical Federation. Dr. Akunyili held positions of responsibility in University of Nigeria Nsukka Senate in the following capacities:
– Senate Careers Board Committee Member 1986-1993
– Board of Institute for Development Studies – Member 1986-1993
– Senate Representative for Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences 1990-1992
– Staff Welfare Committee for Academic Staff Union of Universities, Nigeria Member 1991-1993
– Investigation Committee on Alleged Examination Malpractice in Drama 202 Re: Ugwuja C., 86/49917 of Sub-Department Dramatic Arts, U.N.N. Secretary 1991-1992.
Prof. Dora Akunyili’s high sense of responsibility led to her being made a member of the following Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences Committees (U.N.N.) from 1986-1992:
– Medicinal Plant Committee
– Examination Committee
– Continuing Education Committee
– Publications and Colloquial Committee
– Committee on Specialization Courses for Pharmacists
– Consultancy Management Board.
Prof. Akunyili was a devout Catholic and happily married to Dr. J.C. Akunyili, of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, Nigeria and they have six children together. Her hobby includes reading and writing.
Some of the awards Prof. Akunyili has received are:
– Time Magazine Award 2006 (“One of the eighteen heroes of our time”) – Time Magazine Inc.
– Person of the Year 2005 Award Silverbird Communications Ltd, Lagos, 05-01-2006
– Award of Excellence Integrated World Services (IWS), Dec. 2005
– Award of Excellence Advocacy for Democracy Dividends International, Lagos, 17-12-2005
– Meritorious Award 2005 St. Michael’s Military Catholic Church, Apapa, Lagos, 04-12-2005
– African Virtuous and Entrepreneurial Women Merit Award 2005 African Biographical Network, Dec. 2005
– Award for the Best Government Parastatal National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), December 2005
– An Icon of Excellence Award The African Cultural Institute and Zenith Bank Plc 08-12-2005
– 2005 Grassroots Human Rights Campaigner Award, London-based Human Rights Defense Organization. 08-12-2005
– Most Innovative Director Award, Federal Government College, Ijanikin, Lagos. Oct. 2005.
ABOUT DORA AKUNYILI’S CHILDREN
PROFESSOR Dora Akunyili had six children among whom are three medical doctors, a creative artist and a psychologist.
Some of them are Obumneme, Chidozie, Njideka, Chidiogo and Somto. All of her children who studied outside our shores are well established in their various field of study.
The last of the Akunyilis, Somto was one of the most talented singers in the maiden edition of Idol West Africa held in 2007.
Pathetic tale of misdiagnosis trail her painful exit
SHORTLY after Professor Dora Akunyili’s death on Saturday, June 7, 2014, the social media was abuzz with the story of how a misdiagnosis of a growth suspected to be the origin of the cancer that sent the Agulu-Anambra mother of six to her early grave. The source claimed.
“At the time the late Dora Akunyili was the zonal secretary (South East) of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), in 1998, she had a growth that needed surgery. Akunyili who was then 44 decided to travel to the United States first to get a second opinion and then undergo the prescribed surgery. The bill for the medical trip was $17,000, including $12,000 for the surgery.
“During pre-surgery check-up in the US, she was told that the Nigerian doctors had made a wrong diagnosis and that she didn’t need any surgery. In fact, American doctors said the growth was a minor issue that medication would terminate. She would later return the money meant for the surgery to PTF.
“All through her tenure as NAFDAC boss, Akunyili never had any pronounced medical issue. She went on to pick a ministerial appointment after NAFDAC.
“But on July 13, 2013, something strange happened to her. She was said to be preparing to travel to the United States to receive an award. The following day was her birthday, her 59th. Then she fell ill. She was physically weak and felt some pains. She decided to go ahead with her trip and attend to her health issues in the United States.
“A new medical test carried out on the Professor Emeritus in the States would reveal she had cancer! Meaning that the original diagnosis in 1998 by Nigerian doctors was right. Whereas the verdict of the foreign medical experts was more of a misdiagnosis.
“She became seriously ill and there were fears she could lose her life. She was in the hospital for months and only returned to Nigeria this year when the doctors said she was improving. Akunyili died of cervical cancer, the second most common and the fifth deadliest cancer in women, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).”
The family has since confirmed Professor Akunyili died of cancer.
– Stories by UCHE OLEHI