By Rev Fr Theodora Ekwem
Many years ago, I introduced myself in a circle of older priests. When I mentioned my home town (Owerre Ezukala), one of the priests muttered : Fr Aaron Ekwu; and I proudly nodded with smile.
Communities since ages past are gifted with special individuals. Often, these individuals become reference points and icons for the community identification. It could be positive, and sometimes negative, when the said individual is notorious.
The scope of this short note is on the positive icons. You find their statues erected at major places within the community as icons of reference.
This explains why the likes of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe Statues are at strategic places in Anambra State.
Anambra as a macro community is gifted with the cited duo above and many others, and have at different times, immortalized them either in this manner or naming major facilities after them. This is also a global practice.
Agulu in Anaocha LGA of Anambra State is a community that’s also abundantly blessed. They have natural tourist site like Agulu Lake and is also gifted with special individuals. Ndi Agulu, are giants in academia, entrepreneurship, politics, religion and culture.
They have litany of representatives in the list of positive icons (at least in Anambra State and Nigeria). Driving through Awka – Nise – Agulu road, and immediately after School of Pharmacy and NAFDAC office Agulu, is the iconic Ezinano Junction Agulu. It’s about 200meters distance from Agulu Lake.
In Igbo cosmology, Ezinano is a real crossroad, an intersection of roads where decisions are made. Traditionally, Ezinano is considered as a “place of encounter”. If you get to Ezinano, you must take a decision either to the ‘left or right, forward or backward’.
At Ezinano Agulu stands today the statue of Prof Dora Nkem Akunyili. She is a great icon for Agulu, Anaocha, Anambra, and Nigeria. Prof Dora Akunyili before her death in 2014, had over 900 prestigious awards. The highest by any woman globally.
As a public servant both as DG NAFDAC and Information and communication minister, she was the glowing image of the Federal Government between 2001 and 2009.
Prof Dora Akunyili saved millions of lives, including mine and yours when she fought against fake drugs across the country.
When Nigeria was at a political precipice, she was the one who courageously asked the most needed question: Where is our president? A question that gave birth to doctrine of necessity that salvaged the situation of that moment.
Dora Akunyili has been honoured by the State government by christening the women development center after her name. Ezinano-Agulu is among the many gateway to Anaocha LGA.
It’s therefore most fitting that Prof Dora Akunyili statue, like the iconic statue of liberty should stand tall at Ezinano Agulu, a great community where she became a worthy companion, wife, mother and grandmother; and a mentor to many. Therefore, when you approach Ezinano Agulu and look at the statue, kindly take a decision either to save life or otherwise. In your own little capacity, encounter the author of life who instructed: thou shall not kill. Take a decision never to endanger the life of others via fake drugs. Such is the question Dora Akunyili posits to all road users along the axis. Such is her eternal legacy.
These are ways to inculcate desired virtues and values to the upcoming generation who would ask: who is she?
But, the monument should be our project. Prof Dora Akunyili, is not just a wife to Dr Chike and mother to the children; but a ‘life saver’ to millions of Nigerians.
Such monument therefore should not be “courtesy of Dr Chike and the Family”. Dear Dr Chike and family, kindly bear with us. It should be our project, and am willing to contribute my little token, if ndi Anaocha na ndi Agulu will permit me. Prof Dora Akunyili is ours in life and in death, and her honorarium should be our project.