Today, 14th July 2014, the late Minister of Information/ex-NAFDAC Director-General, Prof. (Mrs.) Dora Nkem Akunyili would have been 60 years old. But she bade the world goodbye on Saturday, 7th June 2014. Her widower Dr. Chike Akunyili today wrote a 1-page most-touching tribute on his late wife themed ‘We Miss You Mummy’. Excerpts:
“Our darling Dora would have been 60 today if she were to be alive. But she is no more – felled 37 days ago by the mortal enemy, death, on Saturday, June 7, 2014. Beloved Dora, you had eagerly looked forward to this day.
But alas, you never lived to see it. We deeply love you,Mummy. It was our wish never to let you go. But when death comes, what can we do than to submit to the will of the Almighty?
“Dearest Dora, We very sincerely admire the decent character in you and those dreams of a golden future for Nigeria for which you were ever ready to sacrifice your life during your days as NAFDAC DG. Without good people in politics, good leadership will remain elusive. Thus your hunger to make Nigeria a great brand via “Good People, Great Nation”.
“Your life was an enduring legacy of truth, courage, integrity, love of your country, pursuit of excellence, love of your family and friends, and total devotion to God. Your commitment to any undertaking attained force and vigor that will surely travel through the centuries. You never held back whatever you could do for the common good.Your numerous good deeds, infectious smiles, peaceful but firm nature, steely personality and motherly love are all unforgettable.No amount of darkness can overpower the candle you lit and raised high for all to see. In pain the children and I accept your exit.
“He who is love hath called thee home and bade thee thy labour cease.Thou art safe in His eternal love and never ending peace. Dora, lay down thy head on thy Saviour’s breast( as you usually did on mine whenever you were extremely tired). Nigerians all eulogize you and appreciate the numerous trees you planted for future generations to enjoy. We love you dearly but God loves you more. Sleep peacefully in His bosom. Peace, Perfect Peace, Dora The Amazon.”
In a related development, the family of late Professor Dora Akunyili has rubbished the report making the rounds that they are at war over her final resting place.
Speaking on behalf of the Akunyilis on Saturday, July 5, 2014, the family’s media adviser, Mr. Isaac Umunna, said the story is baseless and leaves much to be desired.
“The story doesn’t make sense. As obtains in most other parts of Igboland, Anambra women, at death, are buried in their husband’s place. Why should Dora be an exception?”
The social media was awash with the story: “Family in bitter war over Dora Akunyili’s final resting place,” all through the week.
The report claimed that while many Nigerians are yet to come to terms with the death of the former Minister of Information and Communications at a Specialist Cancer Hospital in India, her immediate family members are said to be divided on where to bury the fallen amazon.
According to the unconfirmed report, those in the know said that while Dora’s husband, Dr. Chike Akunyili is insisting that his late wife should be buried in Agulu, his hometown as tradition demands, her immediate family members are demanding that she should be buried at her parents’ home in Nanka, Anambra State.
It was further alleged that the elders of both Agulu and Nanka met over the matter before the remains of the former Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), was flown into the country, weeks back.
Still in the report was a list of dignitaries attending the August 28 burial of the late emeritus professor. It included the Vice President, Namadi Sambo; the Senate President, David Mark; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal as well as state governors and other eminent Nigerians.
After ENCOMIUM Weekly forwarded the story to Dr. Chike Akunyili through Professor Dora Akunyili’s media adviser (Isaac Umunna) he replied thus: “This is a baseless and very irresponsible story. Please note as follows:
(1) No single person is quoted in the story.
(2) In Igboland, a woman is usually buried in the husband’s place when she does. Agulu and Nanka are no exceptions.
(3) As a member of the burial committee, I can confirm there is no truth whatsoever in the claims in the fabricated report. We have been working with both the Akunyili and Edemobi families and there is no disagreement whatsoever on the issue of where Professor Akunyili would be buried. (Edemobi is Dora’s maiden surname).
(4) Mentioning names of top government officials to attend the burial at this point is premature. The burial committee has neither compiled nor sent out any invites for the burial. So, it is premature to identify specific people expected at the burial.”
Professor Dora Nkem Akunyili died on Saturday, June 7, 2014. Her remains were flown back from India (where she passed on) on Wednesday, June 11. The family didn’t waste time to fix August 28, 2014 as the icon’s burial date. A burial committee was equally set up days after to ensure the former Anambra guber and senatorial aspirant is given a befitting burial.
But the committee had barely sat when news filtered in from Agulu and Nanka, Anambra (the homes of the deceased) alleging there is a bitter disagreement over where she would be buried.