The Presidency has denied a report saying it is planning to rename the University of Ibadan after the late former Director-General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, Prof. Dora Akunyili.
Akunyili, who served as the Minister of Information and Communication between 2008 and 2010, died on Saturday in a hospital in India, having battled with cancer in the last two years.
A Twitter handle purportedly belonging to the Nigeria Television Authority had quoted the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, as saying the President was planning to immortalise her by renaming the nation’s premier university to ‘Dora Akunyili Memorial University’.
“Mr. President may consider renaming University of Ibadan as ‘Dora Akunyili Memorial University’ to honour the late NAFDAC boss,” the Twitter handle, @NTA_News , had quoted Abati as saying.
But the presidential spokesman in a swift reaction denied making any of such statement, declaring that there was no iota of truth in the rumour making the rounds on social media.
Writing on his Twitter page, Abati noted that while the Federal Government held Akunyili and her family in high esteem, the President had no such plans.
“Nobody ever said Mr. President is considering naming University of Ibadan after late Prof. Dora Akunyili. Please ignore fake news. On Dora Akunyili, there is an official statement conveying President Jonathan’s heartfelt condolences. We stand by that statement,” Abati tweeted.
Also, the management of the NTA has dissociated itself from the statement said to have emanated from its social media account.
Describing the Twitter handle as bogus, the NTA vowed to shut it down and ensure the prosecution of those behind the rumour.
“The handlers of @NTA_News have been advised to shut down the Twitter account. It is a crime to impersonate a government agency. You risk being prosecuted,” the NTA warned on its official Twitter page.
Meanwhile, more tributes have poured in for Akunyili, with many sympathizers describing her as a dedicated public servant who faced risks to fight the proliferation of fake drugs in the country.
The Governing Council, management and members of staff of NAFDAC in an online tribute to Akunyili, said she was a “great patriot and woman of great virtue.”
According to them, while Akunyili held sway as the helmsman of the agency, she was patriotic and selfless and was always prepared to make the necessary sacrifices and contributions for a better society.
Commiserating with the Akunyili family, her former colleagues at NAFDAC said her “determination, focus, resilience and commitment to duty” remained unparalled.
“The Governing Council, management and entire staff of NAFDAC commiserate with the Akunyili family on the painful demise of our amiable past DG. Prof. Akunyili was a woman who loved Nigeria deeply and dedicated her entire life up till the very last minute to the service of this great nation.
“She was an Amazon, a rare gem and a heroine of modern day Nigeria whose passion to excel was second to none. We pray the Almighty to grant her eternal rest and give her family and the nation at large the fortitude to bear this,” they added in the tribute posted on Twitter.
The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said she received the news of her death with “great sadness.”
“Great sadness at the news of Dora Akunyili’s death. She was full of life and passion for causes she believed in. Sleep peacefully, my sister,” Okonjo-Iweala wrote on Twitter.
A former presidential candidate and publisher of the Ovation magazine, Dele Momodu, noted that it was difficult to accept the news of her death.
“Aunty Dora, I know you will feel highly fulfilled and very proud to see the way the world is celebrating you today! Aunty Dora, how cruel can death be! Even when you disagreed with my views, Aunty Dora you still called to commend my use of language!
“Aunty Dora, your words ring stridently in my ears, and you were so full of wisdom! It is difficult to accept that Aunty Dora is gone, a lady so full of life!” Momodu tweeted.
A one-time vice-presidential candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, Fola Adeola, praised Akunyili as a “truly amazing” public officer who “fought bravely and very hard,” to safeguard the lives of many Nigerians.
“After the terrible experience she had in the East in the hands of hired killers, I had asked Dora why she had continued to pursue her job as NAFDAC head the way she had.
“Hear her, ‘Fola, it is the only way. If I allow fake drugs to thrive, I am a murderer; if I allow fake baby foods to circulate, I am a killer of our children. Brother, it is the only way. Let them kill me, not kill millions,” Adeola said in a Twitter post.