Dora lived beyond doctors’ prediction –Widower

CHIKE, the husband of the late former Minister of Information, Prof. Dora Akunyili, said on Tuesday that his deceased wife lived beyond the time doctors gave her.

The late former minister’s widower spoke at requiem mass organised in memory of the deceased at the Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Garki, Abuja.

He said his wife rejected the advice of many who told her not to participate in the just-concluded National Conference because she had lost weight as a result of her sickness, which he said started as a lump at her lower abdomen.

Dora Akunyili, who was also a former Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control, was a member of the National Conference, representing her home state of Anambra, till she died of cancer on June 7 at an Indian hospital.

Chike said although doctors told his late wife that she had seven months to live in 2012 when she was diagnosed, she waived it as a pronouncement of men and not of God.

“When I told her doctors said she would not live for more than seven months, she said doctors have spoken but God has not spoken and then she lived for another two years and three months,” Chike said.

He 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 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.”

Describing her as an elephant, the widower said time would never be enough to talk about his late wife who he fondly referred to as Dorothy.

At the mass, President Goodluck Jonathan paid tribute the late Akunyili, saying he and other public office holders were praying that their children would be respected like the deceased.

The President urged Akunyili’s children to be happy because their late mother’s works had given them an identity that neither silver nor gold could give.

He said, “Your mother was a very dynamic woman because her works and identity have given you what silver and gold cannot give you. Yes, it might not translate to monetary rewards, but many will respect and want to assist you as her children because of her.

“We pray that those of us serving now, whether President, Vice President, or others, when we die, people will respect our children because of our deeds like Dora. So you have to thank God for that.”

He described the former minister as one of the few Nigerians who had made the country proud.

“Dora was a role model, her dressing represented the Nigerian woman, her love, character; she is a lady that will hardly leave our memory. She was one of the few Nigerians that have made the whole country proud. I condole you all,” he added.

While describing her as extremely patriotic, the President said Akunyili never compromised as regards those who trafficked fake drugs despite the fact that majority of them were from the same side of the country with her.

He added, “Dora was more known as DG NAFDAC more than when she served as a minister. Most Nigerians knew Dora because of her service. So most of the offices we look for, anybody who has opportunity to serve should serve because what will endear you to people is not necessarily the office you hold but the service you render.

“As a minister, Dora was good. We were very happy to work with her. She was diligent, intelligent, very forthright, and extremely patriotic and above all she was extremely brave and could say anything, right or wrong, and did not care whose ox is gored. That was Dora for you.

“She sought to protect the lives of Nigerians as DG of NAFDAC and never compromised as regards those who trafficked fake drugs.

“One thing that endeared her to me is that, probably I’m one President that has worked with so many women. Atimes you noticed rivalry amongst women but with her you, never noticed any rivalry.”

The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, in his homily, eulogised the deceased for her virtues and the legacy she left behind in her public service.
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