ON the 7th of June would remain water shed in the history of Nigeria as it marks the 5th year in the 365 days of calendar month when one of the country’s ever brightest, Prof. Dora Nkem Akunyili bidded farewell to the earth.
Of truth, five years may have gone like yesterday. But the date is symbolic and significant to the family of Akunyili and Edemobi and possibly some Nigerians.
Significant in the sense that your life gives meaning to the live of others. And symbolic in a way that it represent the true face of doggedness, resilience, service, humanity and selflessness in the midst of daunting pervasiveness and ganging.
Throughout your lifetime, you left no one in doubt as to where you stood on the issues that defines our time. There was no challenge that you considered too great for you; neither was any risk too grave once you felt satisfied that the steps you was rooting were in the utmost interest of her dear country people.
In your death, humanity is robbed of your genius and redeeming spirit. Nevertheless, we are comforted that in your lifetime, you left us enough beacons to guide our footsteps and launder that good image home an abroad in such a direction which is meaningful and purposeful in existence.
Your unbeatable testimonials of selflessness speak in high pitch of voice in the heart of patriotic Nigerians till date. And to this, your boss, the Former President and Commander-in-Chief-of the Armed Forces, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo at the 14th annual lecture of the Women in Management Business and Public service held in Lagos, explained why he chose you to head the National Agency For Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) during his tenure.
At the event, Obasanjo noted that Nigeria was not short of women of integrity and character, while used you as a case study.
In his words: “I was looking for somebody who would work in NAFDAC.
“There was an old man who was there and didn’t really impress me. I had had a couple of meetings with him and I found him not (to be) the type of man I would want to have on that job.
“I was talking to a friend who said, ‘Oh, there is a lady; she went to Britain for a medical (program) and when she finished, she said whatever money was left from the money deposited by her department should be sent back to the department.
“And the people called her and said, ‘Are you not a Nigerian? Nigerians will come here and say add something which you would pay back to us later.’
“So, I said there is a Nigerian woman like that, where is she?
“So, I located Dora and I said, ‘What is your profession?’ She said, pharmacy. I said pharmacy; I am looking for a pharmacist for this job. She got the job” Obasanjo affirmed.
No doubt, You were a great performer. One could not be mincing word by inkling that there was Dora; there was a country. Your love for a better Nigeria remains unshakable and untainted and it shows on recognition of your works years after your submitted to the cold hands of death. As the Director General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) between 2001 and 2009, you over worked for posterity records. Also as a Minister of Information and Communications from 2008 to 2010, you performed brilliantly and excellently.
Then, I can boastfully say that no living nor dead Nigerian that have clinched the recognition and meritorious awards that you have received for service to humanity. This year, NAFDAC, the agency you gave your best to, remembered your legacies during its 25th anniversary celebration and you were honoured with a posthumous award which was presented to the family representative by the First lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari.
However, the First lady showered praises on you for the hard work and incorruptible disposition, which she termed to be what earned the agency a reputable name. She further prayed to Almighty God to grant her soul eternal repose, while embraced the family and thanked them for the support and memories being kept in her honour.
In same month, Miss Inspire Nigeria Beauty Pageant 2019 honoured you with “legendary achievement award” for championing the course of NAFDAC, which was attended by notable Nigeria’s women alongside Michelle Obama, wife of the Former President of United States of America.
In remembrance of your patriotism, a book titled: Dora Akunyili- heroine of our generation, written by Ikechukwu Emedolibe and forewords written by Mrs. Josephine Anenih, Former Minister for Women Affairs which will be launched on Friday to commemorate and celebrate your demise.
As you are fondly remembered today, May the Almighty God accept your peaceful soul. Keep resting in the right hand side of our Lord. You are our dearest mother, sister, auntie and super-heroine. You will always be in our heart.
Live on Dora Akunyili!
• Ibrahim writes from Lagos.