National Conference eulogises Akunyili, Bayero

Ms. Akunyili died in the early hours of Saturday, June 7, while Mr. Bayero died on June 6.

The National Conference of Monday in Abuja paid glowing tributes to late Dora Akunyili, a delegate representing Anambra, who died of cancer on June 7, in an Indian hospital.

The tributes came from the delegates after the formal announcement of the death of Mrs. Akunyili at the resumed plenary by the Deputy Chairman, Bolaji Akinyemi.

The deceased was the former Director General of NAFDAC and later Minister of Information and Communications.

In his tribute to Mrs. Akunyili, Mr. Akinyemi described her as “a fighter and a patriotic Nigerian who fought to the very end.

“We all will surely miss her. Given the frailty of her health, she still attended our sessions, it shows somebody who is fighting a cause,’’ Mr. Akinyemi said.

Also contributing, Abubakar Jijiwa, representing Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria, BON, urged the conference to recommend something worthy to be named or instituted in her name.

Mr. Jijiwa said the activities of Mrs. Akunyili while she held forte at NAFDAC and later at the Ministry of Information and Communications showed her passion and belief in the country.

One of the delegates, Nnenna Oti, in her contribution described Mrs. Akunyili as a patriot, an epitome and a model to the womenfolk.

Ms. Oti said that the conference and the country would continue to remember her for the good life she lived.

Another delegate, Aisha Ali, said honouring Mrs. Akunyili is worthwhile and described her as “a strong personality and a great Nigerian who fought for the survival of Nigerians.’’

“Akunyili fought for our survival. Nobody can understand what Nigerians were going through in terms of how we were being used as guinea-pigs for drug dumping.

“I also remember when Akunyili was shot at simply because she was trying to save the health of Nigerians, particularly the women and the children,” Ms. Aliu said.

She said the achievements of the deceased were indicative that if women were given the chance, they would do much more for the development of the nation.

Amuna Ali, who was the permanent secretary when Mrs. Akunyili was the minister of information, described her as dedicated, hardworking, humble and patriotic.

Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said Mrs. Akunyili showed that “courage is not the absence of fear but the capacity to wheel on in spite of fear.

“In spite of her illness, pain and agony, she literarily defied death and nature, she looked at death in the face, and she had so much passion and patriotism for Nigeria.

“She wore the face of the Nigerian and African woman. Akunyili is better remembered for her famous works,’’ Mr. Ozekhome said.

Dan Nwanyanwu commended her doggedness in the fight against those who were peddling fake drugs in the country, saying she destroyed fake drugs worth billions of Naira.

“In this conference, Akunyili told us that we should plant trees even when we are aware we will not sit under the shades of those trees we have panted.

“That is the kind of Nigerian we should build,’’ he said.

Bashiru Albasu also urged the conference to send a condolence message to the family of Ado Bayero and the people of Kano State on the death of the late Emir.

Mr. Albasu described Mr. Bayero as the longest serving Emir of Kano who made the highest and largest contribution to the development of the state.

“He (late Emir) was a true Nigerian who made great contributions to ensure peaceful atmosphere for business and development in Kano,’’ he said.

The conference later observed a minute silence in honour of late Mrs. Akunyili and Mr. Bayero.

Mrs. Akunyili died in the early hours of Saturday, June 7, while Mr. Bayero died on June 6.

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