Chike Akunyili's death shall not be in vain – TheCable
Nigerians were shocked to the marrow with the gruesome murder of Dr Chike Akunyili, husband of the former director general of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and former minister of information, Professor Dora Nkem Akunyili.
Dr Chike Akunyili was a perfect example of a God-fearing husband. He never seized to celebrate his wife even though she passed away in 2014. He remained loyal to his late wife. He gave us a perfect example of what it means to love someone. Unfortunately, his life of service and to the cause his late wife believed in was cut short last week, while he was on his way back from an event where he received a posthumous award on behalf of his wife.
Dr Akunyili was the firepower behind his wife’s success. In the book, ‘’The War Against Counterfeit Medicine: My Story’’, Professor Dora Akunyili had this to say about her sojourn into public service: ‘’……whenever my husband, a medical doctor, went home at weekends to provide free medical services to the poor, I went along to assist him. During these visits, I discovered that there was no health facility anywhere in the village. I was determined to find a way to raise funds to build a hospital for them. I discussed this with my husband and he was in full support’’. This selfless gesture by Dora for his community – in the early days of her marriage – led to other interrelated events which finally brought her into public service. Dr Chike Akunyili was full of life and confidence. He was not intimated by his wife’s towering stature in Nigeria.
Though many people have been killed in the last few days in Anambra State, Dr Akunyili’s death provoked a lot of sentiments from well-meaning Nigerians. Here is man who still carried a bullet in his head from the civil war and had devoted his life – after the death of his wife – to serving people. He treated hundreds of people – including clergies –in his private hospital free of charge. He never seized to make available his skills when called upon to improve healthcare services in Anambra State. He was in the board of many public hospitals. He lived a quiet life and found happiness in his children – including his grandchildren – who are celebrated all over the world.
There are different eye witness accounts on the death of Dr Chike Akunyili, but what is not in doubt is that the senseless murder of this great Igbo son cannot be excluded from the spate of violence being perpetrated by criminals in the South East.
All kinds of groups are currently masquerading as freedom fighters and have continuously unleashed terror on the people of the region. Recently, some secessionists groups have announced that there would not be any elections in Anambra State. The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), on the other hand, had issued numerous sit-at-home orders, which are observed every Monday in Imo, Enugu, Anambra, Abia, and Ebonyi States. These orders have severely disrupted economic and social activities in the South East.
IPOB has been accused of perpetrating violent attacks in the South East in order to achieve its secession agenda. But IPOB has repeatedly denied being behind these attacks. The leaders of the group have used all kinds of medium to issue threat and even gone ahead to establish a security outfit called the Eastern Security Network (ESN) – a group now believed to be out of the control of IPOB. Surprisingly, many south eastern politicians have been reluctant to speak openly against some of these threats, probably because they feel that many south easterners share some of the ideologies propounded by these secessionist groups.
But Dr Akunyili’s murder and many other recent senseless murders have provoked a different narrative. A few days ago, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, after a meeting with his fellow south eastern governors and leaders, told Nigerians in an interview with Channels TV that the Igbos do not want Biafra and will no longer obey sit-at-home orders. In the meeting, the south eastern governors agreed that all the States in the South-East would pass laws before the end of 2021 to give legal backing to the setting up of a joint security outfit, Ebubeagu, in the region. This is the same security outfit many of these governors were reluctant to fund and give backing in their States after the idea was muted in 2020. The governors also publicly criticised IPOB and refused to discuss the imprisonment of the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, in their eight-point communique. The governors also had some strong words for IPOB members abroad, who are believed to be behind the various sit-at-home orders and source of funds for the group.
Critical comments on the situation in the South East have also come from abroad. A few days ago, Ivan Sheehan, the executive director of the school of public and international affairs at the University of Baltimore, in an opinion piece published in the Washington Post asked the United States Government to designate IPOB a terrorist group – a declaration the Nigerian government made since in 2017. Sheehan argues that this will cut the groups funding and its ability to hire lobbyists in the US. Sheehan concludes that the group’s rhetoric and public threats present them as a terrorist group.
Dr Akunyili’s murder has provoked numerous questions and some soul searching. Governor Umahi raised some pertinent questions in his last public interview. The first question is this: How could groups who claim to be fighting for an ‘’Igbo agenda’’ be responsible for causing severe hardship to the Igbos? The economic loss from sit-at-home orders in the South East amount to billions of naira. If this continues, the South East will die economically. Another question is this: How could people fighting the marginalisation or the invasion of the South East by the so-called ‘’Fulani’’ be responsible or suspected to be responsible for the killing of illustrious Igbo sons. Even though IPOB has denied involvement in these killings, a school of thought believe that their pronunciations, past actions and body language might have influenced these killers. More critical questions need to be asked by south easterners.
The frustration from the murder of Dr Chike Akunyili has made many who were reluctant to speak up for fear of losing their political relevance to begin to speak up. Those who believe that these secessionist movements filled a leadership vacuum in the South East need to evaluate their stand. All the groups sponsoring and perpetrating mayhem in the South East need to ask themselves some soul-searching questions.
The discussion has just begun and when the story of a new Anambra and the South East is told, Dr Chike Akunyili shall surely be remembered as the ‘martyr’ and great Igbo son whose murder put an end to senseless killings in the region. All well-meaning Nigerians should make this come true.
Our hearts are heavy. We are frustrated by the events of last week. We pray that the almighty gives the entire Akunyili family the strength to go through this very difficult period.
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