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Akunyili ‘was initially denied Indian visa’

Akunyili ‘was initially denied Indian visa’
June 11
15:34 2014

Ministers on Wednesday paid special tributes to former information minister, Professor Dora Akunyili, who died in India last Saturday after a battle with cancer.

Interior minister Abba Moro revealed that the Indian high commission initially denied her visa to undertake an emergency medical trip after suffering a serious crisis last month.

He said: “At the peak of her health crisis when she was to be flown abroad, I received a message from her family that the Indian high commission wanted to deny her visa.

“I intervened by quickly getting across to the high commissioner and I was told that they would give her visa if they could get a plane that would fly her directly to India.

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“Luckily, a family friend offered to help with a plane a few days after with the thinking that she would be brought back safely. But that did not come to pass.”

Health minister Onyebuchi Chukwu described Akunyili’s appointment as the director-general of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) as a “game changer”.

He said the prevalence of fake and substandard drugs in circulation dropped from 60% to 16% when Akunyili was in charge.

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“She was easily one of the most iconic figures in the 100 years of the nation’s history,” he added.

At the special tribute session of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), President Goodluck Jonathan praised the late minister.

Jonathan recalled his first encounter with her when she was DG of NAFDAC at the time he was deputy governor of Bayelsa State.

He said: “My governor was outside the country then and he asked me to represent him at the opening session of the health event.

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“I was looking forward to meeting Akunyili at the event but she did not attend the session. I was told she would arrive in the evening. I therefore directed the state commissioner for health to ask her to join me for breakfast the following day.

“The first thing she did at the breakfast table was to condemn the bread that was provided for breakfast. She said the bread was cold.

“She summoned my stewards and admonished them to ensure that loaves of bread are warm so that some moulds do not cause stomach upset.”

Jonathan noted that the late former minister introduced a programme to rebrand the country with the popular slogan “Good people, great nation,” describing her as “a virtuous woman who is not easy to come by.”

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He also commended Akunyili’s dress style which he said portrayed her as a Nigerian woman whose identity could not be mistaken.

Vice-President Namadi Sambo described Akunyili’s death as a great loss to the country.

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He said: “Dora’s death is a great loss not only to her family but to this country. She was a patriotic and dedicated Nigerian who excelled in any assignment given to her.

“She has left an indelible mark. NAFDAC is a shining star agency in this country because of her efforts. In spite of attempts on her life, she continued her anti-fake drugs war.”

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Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim, described Akunyili as a true nationalist.

He recalled that he received a text message from her in May intimating him of her deteriorating health condition.

He said: “It is with a deep sense of loss that I talk about my sister, Dora. I was getting down at the airport on my way for a burial when I received a text message from her that she ran into health crisis and was admitted in the National Hospital, Abuja.

“She said after stabilising, she would be flown abroad for further treatment. I tried but could not reach her on the telephone.

“By the time I returned to Abuja, she had already been flown abroad. She was a true nationalist.”

The coordinating minister for the economy and minister of finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, described the former NAFDAC boss as a woman of “passion, strength and conviction”.

Minister of power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, said Akunyili became a professor during his tenure as the vice chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nzukka.

Nebo described her as one with an electrifying personality, regretting that death had denied the nation of a woman who rebranded Nigeria with a phrase that all Nigerians have come to admire.

He said Akunyili courageously spoke out at the darkest period of the nation’s political history when former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was sick.

1 Comment

  1. kboy
    kboy June 11, 16:39

    hi

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