By Willy Bozimo
DORA Akunyili needs no introduction. She is a stallionÂ in her own right. She made her mark as a woman of integrity as witnessed by her performanceÂ in her days at NAFDAC. A no nonsense lady and she almost put her life on the line in her war against fake foods and drugs.
A few years back, she was shot at by drug barons on the busy Enugu Onitsha highway where the assassinâ€™s bullets scraped through her car, destroying her screens without hitting their target.
For her brilliant performance she was appointed a Minister of the Federal Republic and given the portfolio ofÂ Information and Communications Ministry during a minor cabinet reshuffle where she took over from Mr. John Odey now posted to Ministry of Environment.Â Her appointment was greeted with some doubts as to her suitability for the positionÂ being a pharmacist by profession.
From her performance so far, she seemed to have held her position very effectively, bold and proactive, most especially during the December bomber issueÂ by a Nigerian,Â Farouk Muttalab on an American airline Detroit bound that was aborted.
She came out boldly to show her displeasure over United States naming ofÂ Nigeria as a country of interest along with otherÂ Taliban friendly countries such asÂ Libya,Â Somalia, Teheran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.Â Her characteristic candour and outspokenness rang out to all corners of the globe and playing her role as the madam brand Nigeria, she had left no one in doubtÂ thatÂ she is more prepared than any oneÂ within the federal executive councilÂ who openly disagreed with theÂ contrived taciturnity that made all the ministers to be become victims of collective amnesia. They all behaved like mummified Egyptian kings in their underground graves called catacombs.
They saw nothing wrong with the over two months medicalÂ Â sabbatical of the president in a Saudi Hospital, withoutÂ making any formal handover of power in line with theÂ constitutionalÂ provisions in section 145 of the 1999 Constitution.
TheÂ legal mumbo-jumbo wovenÂ by the former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Michael Aaondoakaa, round the long absence that had led the country to be rudderless did not seem to bother members of FEC . Typical of Nigerians, we have always found a way of muddling through most of our thorny political issuesÂ and somehow, the Iron Lady charged with the responsibility for rebranding Nigeria – good people great nation,Â came out with a smoking gun,Â told her President who appointed herÂ to his face, â€˜ since you are temporarily indisposed and incapacitated, it is time you handed power over to your Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathanâ€™.
Some described her viewsÂ as outrageous and not in keeping with the collective responsibility of someone in the cabinet of President Yarâ€™dua, while others praised her courage and candour for speaking their minds.Â HavingÂ broken from the ranks and Nigerians, in and out of the National Assembly are beginning to see the light and wisdom in her display of supernatural courage and bravery are beginning to see the light at the end of this long winding tunnel of constitutional impasse and the dire need to ask the Vice President to act for him..
What does theÂ Dora Akunyiliâ€™s bombshell portend forÂ the nationâ€™s polity?Â It seemed to have removed the scales of timidity off our eyes, as politicians and public officers and it is now instructive to know that what a man can do, the women of the calibre of Dora Akunyili, can do it twenty times better .
The role model and rebranding role she has been given to serve had been better served than any other form of sloganeering and one hopes and prays that she stays put in her office until her boss returns to office inÂ good health.Â Â The inertia that had characterized the cabinet members over the past two months had shown that while patriotism at times like these ought to call forthÂ real patriots, the lesser men and women were, hiding under loyalty to the appointing officer, Mr. PRESIDENT to the detriment of theÂ polity and democractic imperatives of the time.
If it were under other climes of khaki regimes of the nationâ€™s recent past, this uncomfortable state of flux could have been given as enough reasonÂ to effect a change in the leadership of the nation, and thereby truncating, as it were, another period of democratic consolidation . I will give maximum kudos to the men in khaki, who had also imbibed the new fashioned culture of democratic rule as their earlier incursions into the political scenes in most parts of the world had been adjudged unfashionable and anachronistic.
To my dearÂ Akunyili, may your tribes and kind increase a million fold, be steadfast and Nigerians will never forget your role as a brand in your own class, a quintessential lady of honour, charisma and warmth and for daring the United States when you said Farouk Abdulmuttalab was reared and schooled in the WestÂ and therefore whatever strands of radicalism that he had imbibed was learnt in Britain and the United States.Â Even her male counterpart in the External Affairs Ministry, Mr. Ojo Madueke, also spoke in similar vein when he said it was an un- friendly Christmas gift from a friendly countryÂ to Nigeria and wasÂ un-acceptable to link Nigeria with countries like Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan â€“ countries that had Talibanistic ties in the past..
These are the kinds ofÂ sparks of brilliance and courageÂ that Nigeria should parade when appointing competent people into positions of ministers.Â Most times the art of ethnic balancingÂ and federal character had led toÂ choice of mediocres over merits which had led to our inability as a nation to operate at the most optimum levels in all fields of our collective endeavours.
Dora dear, if at the end of the day the system shows you a red card for daring the Lion of Aso Rock, never mind in the womb of time andÂ better climes , you will be picked by the people for thisÂ amazing show of creative patriotism cum loyalty to fatherland and to Mr.. President. It was a timely bombshell for the Guinness Book of records for all times and the best form of Rebranding of NigeriaÂ good people great Nation.