The family of Professor Dora Akunyili is “very baffled” by persistent rumours of the death of the former minister of information and communication, TheCable understands.
Although the family has been forced to issue denials almost on a daily basis, the rumours have refused to die down.
Rumours started circulating about her “death” in the last three weeks, forcing her media aide, Isaac Umunna, to issue regular bulletins on her health since she was flown to India on an emergency last month.
Again on Friday, the rumours were revved up. A website reported that she was dead, eliciting messages of “RIP” on the social media.
“She is not dead,” a member of the family, who declined to be named “because I am talking reluctantly”, told TheCable. “It’s appearing to us that while many people are genuinely concerned about her health, some are actually wishing her dead. We cannot understand the motive.”
He said the family is “baffled” by the unrelenting rumours.
“We get calls almost everyday from people asking, ‘Is it true?’ We are very hopeful that she will recover. The doctors say her condition is improving. Her husband, Dr. Chike Akunyili, updates us regularly. He is a medical doctor. Our prayer is that she will be well and come back home. These rumours are killing us,” he said.
The former director-general of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) was recently quoted as sending this message from her hospital bed: “I am comforted by the fact that prayers are going on for me in churches and mosques as well as in private homes. God is answering the prayers. He has already healed me. I am only waiting for the physical manifestation of the healing. I am grateful to all Nigerians. I look forward to recovering and coming back home to rejoice with you all.”
The nature of her illness is yet to be made public, but there have been reports of cancer.