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ODE TO PROFESSOR DORA AKUNYILI

Source: pointblanknews.com

BY
 
CHIEF MIKE A.A. OZEKHOME, SAN, FCIArb,
LL.d, D.Litt, DA, HonDL, Ph.D (HC), LL.M, LL.B (HONS),

BL, KSM, F.AES, FNIM, F.ICA., F.chMC, FNIER, LFIBA

Constitutional Lawyer and Human Rights Activist

 Born only 59 years ago, Dora was an incredibly amazing woman of impeccable credentials. Borrowing from the words of Mark Anthony in Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, where he said to the Roman plebeians, 'friends, Romans, countrymen, I come to bury Caesar, but not to praise him..'. I here say of Dora Akunyili, 'friends, Nigerians, countrymen and women, I come to mourn Professor Dora Akunyili, not to praise her'.

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Debonair, suave, charming, sartorial, bold, iconoclastic, daring and magisterial in carriage, Dora Justified the truism that courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to move on inspite of fear.

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The strong-willed gazelle who combined brains with beauty, as director General of NAFDAC, gave fake and adulterated drug peddlers a bloody nose in her war against these merchants of death.

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Inspite of her obvious and manifest fragility, illness, pains, agony, pangs and near blood, Dora literally defied nature and looked death straight in the face, for many years.

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She possessed unequalled passion and patriotism about the Nigerian project, wearing the face of the archetypal Nigerian, nay African, woman.

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Dora is better remembered for her coinage of the term, 'cabal', with which she described those who held the Nation to ransome over former President Yar'adua's ill health in a Saudi hospital and would  not allow us know his true state of health, nor allow Goodluck Jonathan, the then Vice President, succeed  him. She, indeed, was one of those in the forefront in inventing the 'doctrine of necessity' that saved the Nation from a definite descent in to a dangerous precipice of total anarchy and annihilation.

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Dora, though a scientist that plied her trade in the pharmaceutical realm, where she earned a Ph.D, she was very articulate and academically grounded. Her scholarly erudition, lucidity and clarity of thought and mind, put her in the glorious pantheon of great thinkers and intellectual icons.  In her lifetime, she won over 400 laurels, both nationally and internationally.

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This roaring lioness was my personal friend and sister. She escaped death by the whiskers on occasions too numerous to recount. But the one that will forever remain indelible in the minds of all Nigerians was her narrow escape from the shackles of death at Agulu, Anambra State, in December, 2003, when bullets from suspected  drug barons and their hirelings pierced and burnt her scarf, leaving her to live for another 11 years of service to her fatherland.

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I had the honour and privilege to pair with the illustrious chambers of Aare Afe Babalola, in prosecuting the suspects, before my appointment to the 2005 National Political Reform Conference halted my participation in the prosecution of the case.

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A very emotive and emotional person, Dora would easily breakdown and weep over any perceived form of injustice, repression, or marginalization of a less powerful person.

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As Minister of Information, Dora brought nerve and verve to bear on her assignment, when she embarked on the gargantuan task of rebranding Nigeria. She succeeded to a large extent, in turning Nigeria's negative rating to one of global positive adulation. Dora was undoubtedly a heroine whose sense of redemptive messianism transcended fear and personal safety, for self and family.

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She fought on like a Trojan, while making her last famous speech at the plenary session of the National Conference on the 24 th of March, 2014, when inspite of her obvious frailty, she told the Chairman who had permitted  her to read her speech whilst sitting, that she would rather stand. She opted to read her contribution, standing, on groggy and wobbly feet, using her last breath, her last strength, her last heart and her last soul, to defend the unity, indivisibility and egalitarianism of Nigeria.

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For Dora, her case was the classical 'vini, vidi, vici' - she came; she saw; and she conquered. Here was a Dora, a colossus of an African woman! When comes such another?

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Death, where is thy, sting?
Death, thou are ashamed!
Adieu! Adieu!! Adieu!!!
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Dora rest in perfect peace in the bossom of the Lord, Amen.