Former Minister of Information and Director General of NAFDAC began her final journey to mother earth with a torrent of eulogies from distinguished Nigerians who turned up in large numbers to bid her a final farewell at the special Honours and Tributes Ceremony held in her memory at the Women Development Center, Awka.
Delivering his eulogy, the governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano described her as a “Tower of Strengthen”, noting that “Dora was such an inspiration to many Nigerians that I find it difficult to think of her within the confines of ethnic origin, which is proudly Igbo”.
Speaking further, Chief Obiano observed that “In her lifetime, Dora meant different things to different people. To her family, she was a loving mother and a caring wife, to Ndi Anambra, she was a proud daughter and a great ambassador, to Nigerians, she was a crusader, an amazon and a super-heroine”.
The governor also explained that “in Dora, we witnessed a complete embodiment of the very essence of Ndi Anambra. She was cerebral, proud, bold and friendly with a heart of gold. These are the qualities that we are advocating for Ndi
Anambra. Indeed, I was about to name her the Ambassador plenipotentiary of Anambra State before her passing”.
According to him, “Dora had the gift of Grace. Even in the middle of hopelessness of her medical challenges, Dora radiated hope. In truth, Dora was a rare gem. Her life of sacrifice as well as unwavering boldness in defense of truth and justice is a towering legacy that Ndi Anambra are fiercely proud of. It was a great privilege and honour to have known and associated with her”.
In his own eulogy, former Nigeria Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon described Prof Akunyili as a great woman.
“What is she not? You cannot get a better woman than her. My apologies to my wife. She was a fantastic woman, a fantastic wife, mother and grandmother. I think this nation had one of the greatest gifts of human beings in Dora. Let us rejoice in the life of this great woman. She deserves our prayers and respect”, he observed.
Also delivering a moving eulogy, the First Lady of Anambra State, Chief Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano observed that “there are some people whose lives give meaning to the lives of others. Our dearest mother, sister, auntie and super-heroine, Prof. Dora Akunyili was one of such people”.
According to her, “there was no challenge that she considered too great for her, neither was any risk too grave once she felt satisfied that the steps she was taking were in the utmost interest of the people. My Prof was one woman who almost always had her eyes on the prize and in so doing, she became a resounding success”.
Describing her further, Chief Mrs Obiano observed that “In the field of academics, my Prof. was a colossus amongst men. In public service, my Prof. endeared herself to the world with her dedication and selflessness. In pursuit of social justice, my Prof. was never intimidated by the prospects of paying
the high price of standing for what she believed. In all her struggles and advocacies, Dora Akunyili gave hope to the hopeless, sticking out her neck on occasions when less courageous people would have beaten a retreat”.
Talking of her infinite debt of gratitude to the late amazon, Chief Mrs Obiano said, “I will never forget her wise advice and motherly counsel that have shaped my understanding of what it means to devote oneself to the service of one’s people.
“They constitute the basic principles that guide my personal approach to the service of umu nwanyi Anambra today. I am eternally grateful to her for making herself a shining example to all women who may find themselves in public service. In her death, humanity is robbed of her genius and redeeming spirit”.
According to him, all through Dora’s stay in the ivory tower where she distinguished herself in her earlier career, she was driven by the passion “to seek truth, to teach truth and to preserve truth”.
Also paying growing tributes to the late czar, Bola Obasanjo, the wife of former President Olusegun Obasanjo described Dora as a role model who impacted so many lives.
“She was a legend, an Icon. She will never be forgotten. She staked her life to save many lives. We all remember that day when the bullet took the cap off her head. We are grateful to God that it did not remove her head that time”, she recalled.
In the reckoning of Chief Victor Umeh, National Chairman of APGA, Dora’s passage was a huge loss to the party.
He said “She was a great peace maker. When she saw people quarrelling, she would be running from pillar to post. She did it between me and my brother the former governor. Dora was thoroughly accomplished. She won everything”.