Last night, Dignitaries including the Nigerian president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, gathered at the Catholic Pro-Cathedral Church, Area 3, Garki, Abuja, to pay a glowing tribute to the former Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control, Dora Akinyili who passed on June 7 after a long battle with cancer.
While paying his tribute to her, late Dora Akunyili’s husband, Dr. Chike Akunyili, in his remarks on behalf of her family, extolled his late wife as a patriot who demonstrated her true love for her country, both in words and in deeds.
Akinyili’s widower also recalled how his wife displayed a rare sense of patriotism when she returned her American passport as a citizen of US in order for her to keep her Nigerian diplomatic passport.
He further disclosed how the deceased told him that she would serve the country with the last drop of her blood and she did just that because she died at a time she was a member of the 2014 National Conference.
“Dorothy is an elephant and if I start talking about her we will not leave. We went to Florida, and there at the immigration, they told her, ‘look, you are an American citizen (because she won the lottery and that was what favoured us). And here you are, you have a Nigerian diplomatic passport, you must surrender one.
“She used her left hand to drop her green card and retained her diplomatic passport. So you can see the level of her love for this country.
“Once in her local government, they brought a trailer load of fertilisers, what did Dorathy do? She shared all to the community. They told her that this was not how it is done and she said, this is how it will be done.
He said her wife kept holding water bowl for him to wash his hands and whenever he reminded her that she was a professor, she kept saying, “I am Chike’s wife first before becoming a professor.”
“Even as a professor, if you see her in the home, she would hold water for me to wash my hand. And I would tell her, Mummy, you are a professor and she would say, “I married Nkem before I became a professor.”
“One day, we went for medical check up and we found a lump at her lower abdomen. Doctors said she had seven months.
“But she said, ‘you are not the husband I married, you are always dejected, what happened?’ And I told her that the doctors said she had seven months to live. She said doctors have spoken, God has not spoken, seven months became two years and three months.
“Dora had a message for this country; it was a message of love, courage and steadfastness. Even when she was in pain, she still attended the national conference . You all heard what she said at the conference that ‘a country grows great when old men plant trees, whose shade they will not live to enjoy.
Some of the personalities requiem at mass, yesterday, were the First Lady, Patience Jonathan, Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, members of National Assembly, members of the Federal Executive Council, Chief Edwin Clark, Andy Uba, Stella Okoli, former ministers, Pauline Tallen, Odien Ajumogobia, Olusola Obada, among others.