The final burial rites for Professor Dora Akunyili, former director-General of the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC and Minister for Information have been holding in several states across the country and ended today with her interment in Agulu, Anambra State,southern Nigeria.
After a Christian wake-keep at her family’s residence in Enugu, activities moved to Abuja on 25 August at the International Conference Hall, Abuja, where a special tribute and service of songs was held in her honour. Dignitaries from all walks of life and family members attended the event and paid glowing tributes to the deaprted amazon.
The following day, Tuesday, President Goodluck Jonathan led other dignitaries to pay their last respects during a requiem mass held in her honour at the Pro-Cathedral Catholic Church, Abuja. After the service, Professor Akunyili’s remains were moved to Enugu for further obsequies; including a funeral mass at the KSJ Temple, Enugu.
Yesterday, the funeral involved some academic activities as the remains of the former NAFDAC boss were taken to the University of Nigeria, Enugu Teaching Hospital, Ituku-Ozalla, Enugu for lying in state, tributes and reminiscences by members of the academic community, particularly the institution’s College of Medicine where she worked previously.
The programme in Enugu was rounded off with a mass in her honour at the Holy Ghost Cathedral, Enugu before the departure of the body to Anambra, her home state.
The body was laid in state both at her father’s compound in Nanka and her husband’s home in Agulu, Anambra State.
Our correspondent reports that Agulu has been tumultuous and carnival-like since the body arrived the village. The compound was so crowded that many visitors could not gain entrance into the premises.
At the Madonna Catholic Church, Agulu where the final funeral mass held, the presiding priest in a homily described the deceased as priceless, patriotic and exemplary.
“I can tell you that the death of Dora is marked by the community and Nigeria in general. She wrote her name in gold. And so, in death, she brought Nigerians together in grief,” the clergyman said.
Agulu community has been grieving and celebrating the life of Mrs. Akunyili. While many indigenes of the town expressed sadness about the loss of a woman described as an amazon, others celebrated the fact that she has brought their community to national limelight by discharging her responsibilities reputably.
Akunyi, 59 died in an Indian hospital on 7 June, this year after a battle with cancer. She was a university teacher, worked with the Petroleum Trust Fund and was appointed head of NAFDAC where she pioneered the restoration of sanity to Nigerian’s drug and consumable sector.
She was subsequently appointed Minister of Information by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, a position she held until she resigned to go into active politics.
She was a delegate to the just-concluded National Conference.