The First Lady, Dame Patience Faka Jonathan, has described the former Minister of Information and erstwhile Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control, Prof. Dora Nkem Akunyili, as a “titan” who left an indelible mark with the passion and conviction with which she served the nation.
Jonathan described the late Akunyili’s departure as “a great loss to the nation and the womenfolk”.
The First Lady stated on Saturday: “Words cannot adequately express the shock and deep sadness I feel on receiving this news.”
Dame Jonathan observed that the late Akunyili demonstrated that if given the opportunity, women can make a difference as evident from her glowing career as an internationally renowned pharmacist, respected academic and distinguished administrator.
She called Akunyili “a bright and shining star”, adding: “While we mourn her loss, we offer thanksgiving to God for her sojourn on this mortal earth and for her service to the nation and humanity.”
The First Lady prayed for the Almighty in his infinite mercy to grant her gentle soul peaceful repose in the bosom of her creator and also prayed for God to console the immediate and extended family members.
The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, has also condoled with the family of Akunyili and Nigerians.
A statement by Maku on Saturday in Abuja stated that the management and members of staff of the Federal Ministry of Information received the news of Akunyili’s death with shock.
Maku described the demise of Akunyili as a huge loss to the family, the entire womenfolk, and the country in general.
He said: “She was a patriot, who devoted her career to the struggle to enhance the quality of life of the citizenry.
“Prof. Akunyili displayed uncommon passion and zest for service to the nation and was a social crusader whose faith in Nigeria was unwavering.”
Maku said as the Director-General of NAFDAC, Akunyili redefined the mandate of the agency and took the campaign against fake and unwholesome foods and drugs to an unprecedented level.
He said: “She prosecuted her campaign against fake drugs with a single-mindedness that brushed aside frequent threats to her life, including an assassination attempt by the powerful interests who felt imperilled by her quest to clean up the foods and drug business.
“Akunyili was a colossus who left her footprint across a broad spectrum of Nigeria’s public life.
“Her numerous awards, both at home and abroad, bore testimony to a world that recognısed and appreciated her immense contributions.”
The minister stated that she would be remembered for initiating the rebranding campaign in the Federal Ministry of Information, which was aimed at repackaging Nigeria and improving the image of the country.
Maku said that Akunyılı left a legacy of service to God and humanity and her memory would remain evergreen in the minds of Nigerians.
The minister prayed God to grant the family, friends and Nigerians the fortitude to bear her loss and to grant the deceased eternal rest.