Jonathan, wife extol late Akunyili's virtues, say she'll be greatly missed
Nigerians been gripped with mourning over the death of the former Information Minister Dora Akunyili, who lost battle to cancer in an Indian hospital on Saturday.
Both President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife Patience have said they received the news of the death of the former minister with shock and sadness due to her invaluable contributions to nation-building.
Late professor Akunyili's legacy at the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), where she served as the director general, has remained the reference point of performance in the country.
She risked her life and fought fake drug cartels in major markets in Nigeria to a standstill. For this, several attempts were made on her life. Her doggedness and commitment to stamp out fake drugs from Nigeria saw to the arrest and prosecution of many drug counterfeiters and unscrupulous people who were making fortunes importing and selling fake drugs in the country, while many of such drugs were also destroyed.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, said in a statement on Saturday that the president believed that Akunyili would live long in the memories of those who were privileged to know her as a diligent professional, a public-spirited and forthright public officer, and as a person of great convictions.
He said Jonathan considers her contributions to nation-building while she served as the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), and as Minister of Information and Communications, particularly invaluable.
Abati said the president stated that it was sad that her death had come at a time she was making further efforts to help sustain and strengthen the unity and stability of the country in her capacity as a member of the on-going National Conference.
'Without any doubt, she will be greatly missed', Jonathan was quoted to have said..
Abati said the president commiserated with the Akunyili family, the government and people of Anambra State, members of the National Conference and all her loved ones.
According to him, Jonathan prays that God, in His infinite mercies, grant them the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss of 'this truly distinguished citizen and patriot'.
The First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, in a statement by her spokesman, Ayo Adesugba, has also described the departed Akunyili, as a 'titan,' who left an indelible mark with the passion and conviction with which she served the nation.
She described the late Akunyili's departure as, 'A great loss to the nation and the womenfolk.'
According to her, 'Words cannot adequately express the shock and deep sadness I feel on receiving this news.'
Dame Jonathan observed that the late Akunyili demonstrated that if given the opportunity, women can make a difference as evident from her glowing career as an internationally renowned pharmacist, respected academic and distinguished administrator.
She called late Professor Akunyili, 'A bright and shining star,' saying that, 'While we mourn her loss, we offer thanksgiving to God for her sojourn on this mortal earth and for her service to the nation and humanity.'
The First Lady prayed for the Almighty in his infinite mercy, to grant her gentle soul, peaceful repose in the bosom of her creator and also prayed for God to console the immediate and extended family members.
For Senate President David Mark, the death of former Minister of Information, Professor Dora Akunyili, amounted to the loss of an intellectual of international repute.
Mark, in a condolence message on the demise of Akunyili noted that the nation had lost one of its patriotic and dedicated public officers who believed in the sanctity of unity and indivisibility of Nigeria.
He recalled the unwavering commitment and dedication of the late Akunyili as the then Director General of NAFDAC and even as the nation's chief image maker when she brought Nigeria to the global reckoning with her campaign of 'Great Nigeria, Great People.'
Senator Mark stressed that Nigerian would not forget in a hurry her resolute and relentless war against fake and counterfeit drugs when she chased the illicit drug peddlers out of the market.
He said, 'We have lost a great amazon. We have lost a scholar. We have lost a crusader. We have lost a soldier who stood to be counted when it mattered. We shall miss her robust and honest contributions to the socio-political and economic development of Nigeria.'
Meanwhile, the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, who became minister of information when when the late Akunyili resigned to contest for Senate seat under trhe canopy of All Pgrogessves Grand Alliance (APGA), said that the late Professor Dora Akunyili left a legacy of service to God and humanity.
According to Maku, , her memory will remain evergreen in the minds of Nigerians, because of her commitment and untiring efforts to add value to the people.
The minister, in a condolence message, noted that it was with shock that the management and staff of the Federal Ministry of Information received the news of the passing on of the erstwhile Minister of Information.
He noted that the death of Professor Akunyili was a huge loss to the family, the entire womenfolk and the country in general.
He described the late Akunyili as a patriot who devoted her career to the struggle to enhance the quality of life of the citizenry.
'Professor Akunyili displayed uncommon passion and zest for service to the nation. She was a social crusader whose faith in Nigeria was unwavering.
'As the Director General of NAFDAC, Professor Dora Akunyili redefined the mandate of the agency and took the campaign against fake and unwholesome food and drugs in the country to a level where her tremendous efforts saved the lives of thousands of Nigerians,' he noted.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, has expressed shock over the news of the passing away of the former Minister of Information, Professor Dora Akunyuli.
In a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Malam Imam Imam, Tambuwal described the deceased as a patriot whose tenacity and commitment to duty saved millions of Nigerians from untimely deaths due to effect of fake and substandard drugs.
He said her tenure as the Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) will be remembered as a glorious moment for Nigeria.
The Speaker described Akunyuli as a brilliant pharmacist whose compassion and concerns for the general wellbeing of the people was paramount.
Tambuwal described the deceased as a patriot whose tenacity and commitment to duty saved millions of Nigerians from untimely death due to effect of fake and substandard drugs.
He said her tenure as the Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) would be remembered as a glorious moment for Nigeria.
Delta State governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, also lamented the death of the former Minister of Information, Professor Dora Akunyili, just as he described her as a woman with uncommon courage.
Reacting to the news of Professor Akunyili's death, the governor, in a statement issued by Mr Felix Ofou, his Press Secretary, also described the former minister as a 'dogged fighter' who battled fake drug syndrome to a standstill in Nigeria.
The governor recalled the glory days of the former minister at the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), where she served as its Director General.
According to him, 'Professor Akunyili was a thorn in the flesh of fake drug barons and fought fearlessly to exterminate fake drug syndrome from the society, while ensuring that the country is not made a dumping ground by criminals engaged in nefarious activities.'
The governor praised the former NAFDAC DG for further accepting to serve as minister and until her death as a delegate to the ongoing National Conference in Abuja, pointing out that it was a reflection of the patriotism innate in her.
For Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the demise of the former Minister of Information, Professor Dora Akunyili, as the exit of an uncommon role model.
Senator Ekweremadu, in a condolence message, also described the late Akunyili as a 'woman of substance, unequalled character, and courage who brought respect and glory to the nation,' adding that her death was a colossal loss to the entire country and an exit of an uncommon role model.
The Senator further said: 'Professor Dora Akunyili was a woman of enormous integrity, a quintessential professional, and a public administrator per excellence.
'As a minister, she was outstanding, and as the Director General of NAFDAC, she brought a lot of energy and impetus to bear on the fight against fake and substandard drugs and food. Her brilliant innovations and unparalleled spirited war in the health sector practically gave life back to millions of Nigerians. Indeed, Professor Akunyili spared no cabals wherever they existed throughout her public service, for her love for her fatherland filled her with the courage to tread where other mortals feared to venture.
'She was among the brightest in our galaxy of eminent women and never dimmed in quality and character. She was faithful and true to the nation till the very end and will be seriously missed.'
The Deputy President of the Senate said Professor Akunyili deserved immortalization by the Federal Government because 'she practically laid down her life for her country and remained a role model that represented everything a Nigerian woman should be'.
The Niger State governor, Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu also described the death of Professor Dora Akunyili as a big blow to Nigeria.
He further described the late former NAFDAC Director General as a fountain of knowledge and professional expertise who exuded servant leadership during her national service.
The governor made this known in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Israel Ebije, adding that Professor Akunyili was a good example of a true Nigerian, who, despite her ill health, was ready to use her knowledge for the good of the nation.
'Professor Dora Akunyili was a leading example of a patriotic leader for change. She believed in the Nigerian project and continued to champion her belief even till death,' the statement read.
It will be recalled that her effort to speak about the controversy surrounding the ill-health of the late President Umar Musa Yar'Adua and her memo to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in 2010 on the need to empower Dr Goodluck Jonathan as the acting president, caused a stir in the country, but saved Nigeria a lot of embarrassment, as the ill-health of the late president nearly grounded governance in the country.
While speaking in an interview on the return of the late president to the country from Saudi Arabia in 2010, Professor Akunyili said, 'things have not been properly managed by some people around our dear president. We were not told officially that our president was coming back. It was even Al-Jazeera that broke the news, but I didn't hear it because I had slept. They broke the news that he was leaving Saudi Arabia for Nigeria. They also broke the news of the arrival. But I heard it on CNN
'We have gone through a lot in the past few weeks, which actually culminated in the legislative resolution that pronounced Dr Goodluck Jonathan as the acting president and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces. So, it was very inappropriate for the presidency, on return of our dear president, to refer to Dr Ebele Goodluck Jonathan as Vice President. Dr Jonathan should be addressed as acting president
'We did not have information that our president was even traveling to Saudi Arabia until we saw it in the news, and when he was in Saudi Arabia, we hardly got information. I only got information once from Mr Segun Adeniyi and that was what I reported to the Council, that the doctors in Saudi Arabia said he was getting better and it's only the doctors that would determine when he would come back and I reported it like that.'
Born in Makurdi, Benue State, on July 14, 1954, she was a renowned pharmacist, pharmacologist, an erudite scholar and a politician, who contested on the platform of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) to represent Anambra Senatorial Central district in the National Assembly in April, 2011. She was, however, defeated by Dr Chris Ngige of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
She got her first degree in Pharmacy in 1978 and her PhD in 1985 from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN). She was a post doctorate fellow of the University of London and a fellow of the West African Post Graduate College of Pharmacists.
Professor Akunyili was a recipient of many awards, among which are: Time Magazine Award (2006); African Virtuous and Entrepreneurial Women Merit Award (2005); African Biographical Network Award (2005); the African Cultural Institute and Zenith Bank Plc, (2005), and many others.