The Akunyili family has officially confirmed the death today in India of Prof. (Mrs.) Dora Nkem Akunyili. She was 59.
A statement signed by former Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi, on behalf of the family, said she died at 10 a.m. Nigerian time in a Specialist Cancer Hospital following a two-year battle with the disease.
“In spite her illness, Prof. Akunyili was unwavering in her belief in a better Nigeria,” Mr. Obi said. “That was why she defied her condition and was part of Anambra State Handover Committee and the National Conference.”
He recalled that the he visited her in India, she went beyond her own need for prayers, expressing concern for the abducted Chibok girls, security and other challenges facing the country. She remained prayerful for the release of the girls and for God to help President Goodluck Jonathan to overcome all the challenges facing Nigeria.
“She therefore urged all Nigerians to remain prayerful and committed to building a better society for our children,” he said.
Mrs. Akunyili died four weeks after she was flown to Bangalore, India for further treatment, following ongoing treatment in Abuja, where she was participating in the National Conference despite her obvious condition.
She is widely acknowledged for her groundbreaking work as the first Director-General of the National Agency for Food & Drug Administration & Control (NAFDAC), where she helped to break many drug cartels in the country, and as Minister of Information.
News Express reported today the former Minister spent her final hours in the peaceful presence of her husband, Dr. Chike Akunyili, and her brother, Dr. Francis Anayo Edemobi. It was learned that both of them traveled to India with her on May 11.
“Popularly known as The Amazon, Professor Dora Akunyili was a first class patriot who deeply loved Nigeria and served the country with all she had, irrespective of whatever risks [were] involved in doing so,” the newspaper eulogized. “She demonstrated this in all her assignments – from the classroom at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), to the Presidential (Special) Task Force (PTF), Presidential Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation, and the on-going National Conference in Abuja, of which she was a member until her death.”