As Nigerians from all walks of life continue to mourn the late former Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Tony Anenih and a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Chibudom Nwuche, yesterday paid her tributes
Akunyili, also a former Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), died last Saturday in India where she was receiving treatment.
In the various statements made available to THISDAY, they agreed that Akunyili died serving her nation and mankind.
Oshiomhole in his a condolence message signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Peter Okhiria, described Akunyili as a true amazon who left her imprints in the sand of time
“Professor Dora Akunyili was a true patriot who put the country’s interest above her personal comfort as she displayed extreme courage, discipline, honesty and incorruptibility as director general of NAFDAC.
“She displayed an uncommon trait when she returned an unspent medical allowance to the coffers of the Petroleum Trust Fund as South-east Zonal Secretary of the Fund, an act which stood her out in and earned her elevation to the exalted position of director general of NAFDAC”.
Anenih, in his statement issued yesterday in Abuja, condoled with the Akunyili family, people of Anambra State and the federal government on the tragic loss of “a rare gem, an amazon, a unique political breed, an incorruptible character and a woman of immense integrity who died serving her nation and mankind.
“I received with shock and disbelief the news of the tragic and untimely death of our dear daughter, Professor Dora Akunyili, in an Indian Hospital. Her death came to me, as a surprise because the feedback I received a few days after she was flown out of Nigeria was that of optimism, predicated on an observed marked improvement in her health condition.
“My hope that Dora would make it was also based on the love shown by Mr. President and her other well meaning friends whose timely intervention and response saw to her prompt evacuation to India for treatment at a very critical time in her battle for life.”
Nwuche extolled the virtues the late Akunyili, describing her as an icon who exhibited immense courage, diligence and selflessness both in public service and private life.
He said Akunyili’s eventful tenure as director general of NAFDAC marked a turning point in the nation’s public health administration system, as she galvanised the sanitisation of the system by relentlessly waging a fierce battle against fake drugs and unwholesome consumables in the country with amazing vigour and strategy.
“Also, as Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili discharged her duties with candour, integrity, hard work and uncommon commitment to duty. With her death, the nation has indeed lost an invaluable asset,” Nwuche said.
The Federal Ministry of Information where she held sway as minister also yesterday held a special management meeting her honour.
Her successor, Mr. Labaran Maku, said the special management meeting was to enable those who worked with the former minister offer to her their last respect. She was Minister of Information and Communications from December 2008 and December 2010.
Maku, who worked with Akunyili as the Minister of States for Information and Communications, described her as a strong voice in the advocacy for a better Nigeria and both as director general of NAFDAC.
“It is therefore with grief and sorrow that we learnt over the weekend of her death in far away India, after battling with the condition that has been on and off for almost three to four years. She distinguished herself as a capable administrator, as a patriot and as an outspoken person, based on her own convictions.”
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) was equally not left out of the tributes as it described the death of the former minister as a major loss to Nigeria as she had lived and worked in the service of all Nigerians.
NLC said Akunyili as director general of NAFDAC demonstrated quality leadership and commitment to public service driven by public interest, adding that she served with such an uncommon courage and determination to promote good health and safe living by ensuring all substandard pharmaceutical items were shut out of Nigeria.
In a statement issued yesterday, the NLC expressed condolences to her family and all Nigerians, adding: “Mrs. Akunyili was a perfect example of the type of public servant Nigeria urgently needs to raise the standard of a society sliding in all morals, discipline and selfless service.
“Her commitment to service, fearless carriage, transparency, exceptional honesty, intellectual prowess and commitment to our collective quest for the growth of democratic governance gave her out as a heroine of contemporary Nigeria,” it said.
In the statement signed by its President, Mr. Abdulwaheed Omar, the NLC called on all public servants in the country to emulate Akunyili and re-commit themselves to the struggle against corruption and bad governance at all levels.
“Her work, especially as director general of NAFDAC, remains reference point for our public servants who must see such high level commitment to service and protection of lives as values capable of advancing our human worth. She risked all obstacles and confronted an industry hitherto polluted with dangerous drugs and other pharmaceutical products that were promoted by unpatriotic businessmen,” it added.
In the same vein, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zainab Maina yesterday described the late Akunyili, as the first female President Nigeria never had.
Maina, in a statement, said that Nigerian women have lost a great ambassador of womanhood, while expressing condolences to the family and people of Anambra State.
“The late Akunyili was a patriotic public servant who had sacrificed her personal comfort and even life, in the service of the country,” she said.