Former Minister of Information, Professor Dora Nkem Akunyili, died today peacefully at about 10.00am Nigerian time in an Indian hospital, surrounded by her husband, Dr. Chike Akunyili, and her brother, Dr. Francis Anayo Edemobi, both of whom travelled to India with her on May 11 and remained by her side until she drew her last breath.
Akunyili died in Bangalore, Karnataka, India, losing a two-year battle against cancer about four weeks after she was flown to India for further treatment on Sunday, May 11, 2014, having initially been treated in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.
The strong woman, an ex-czar of the National Agency for Food & Drug Administration & Control (NAFDAC), was born on July 14, 1954 and only a month more for her to turn 60. She is survived by her husband, Dr. Chike Akunyili, her siblings, her children, grandchildren and a host of relatives.
Popularly known as te Amazon, Professor Dora Akunyili was a first class patriot who deeply loved Nigeria and served the country with all she had, irrespective of risks involved in doing so. She rose from being a classroom teacher at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) to the Presidential (Special) Task Force (PTF), NAFDAC, Ministry of Information & Communications, Presidential Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation, and the on-going National Conference in Abuja, of which she was a member until her death.
Below is the official statement of her death as issued on behalf of her family by immediate past Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, CON:
“PROF. (MRS.) DORA AKUNYILI IS DEAD
“On behalf of the Akunyili’s family, I wish to officially confirm the death of Prof. (Mrs.) Dora Nkem Akunyili, OFR, in a Specialist Cancer Hospital in India this morning at 10 am, Nigerian Time, after a two-year battle with cancer.
“In spite her illness, Prof. Akunyili was unwavering in her belief in a better Nigeria. That was why she defied her condition and was part of Anambra State Handover Committee and the National Conference.
“The last time I visited her in India, even when she needed all the prayers herself, she was full of concern for the abducted Chibok girls, security and other challenges facing the country and told me that she remained prayerful for the release of those girls and for God to help President Goodluck Jonathan to overcome all the challenges facing the Nation. She therefore urged all Nigerians to remain prayerful and committed to building a better society for our children. We all prayed together and I promised to be visiting her every month.
“We thank all those who remain fervent in prayers for her recovery and urge them to remain prayerful for the peaceful repose of her soul.” [myad]