Chris Ngige puts an end to Dora’s “rebranding” s’eku, s’eiye misadventure

April 28, 2011

by Tola Adenle

First, the Yoruba phrase in the title: the bat is neither a rodent nor a bird, and I chose it for a woman who short-circuited her route to immortality, not knowing whether to align with the progressives that she is at heart or the reactionaries that offer quick though short-term gain.

Why have I written so much on Professor Dora Akunyili these last couple of years? Dora or Madam Rebrand as she is popularly called, or Madam Great Nation – the name I used to use for her in my essays because of the line in her Nigeria’s “rebranding” project – is a woman never far from my mind whenever I ponder the cemetery the country’s landscape has become for many who started out right but in their attempt not just to remain relevant but to be people to reckon with in society, they walked the walks they often condemned before getting to power.  Service is not a word close to the hearts of those who go into politics or accept political appointments.  It almost always is about ways to make money – never legacies.   A few go in to make a difference and Professor Akunyili was definitely among such few.

Akunyili comes to my mind whenever I remember the great promise she held, the opportunities she had and the squandering of all in her clawing to get to the top of the heap and be among those who “have made it” in the country.  What exactly happened on the way from a university lectureship through NAFDAC headship, ministerial appointment to senate candidacy in Anambra?

I decided to reproduce bits and pieces from the writings I’ve done on Dora AFTER she decided to shed her aura and show Nigerians she’s just another politician who would do anything to move up the ladder of what I described back in 2004 as Nigeria, Inc.

When I presented “Alhaja Yar Adua’s “first ladyism” revisited” in June 2009 in The Nation, Dora’s promotion of the Alhaja’s NGO, a cancer hospital, was troubling; it went beyond the role of an Information Minister. In raising several questions about the hospital at Abuja for which funds were being raised overseas and for which funds were being solicited in Nigeria, here are my comments about Dora’s close involvement in the project:

“I’m worried about how the funds will be raised in spite of [Madam Great Nation] Information Minister Akunyili’s glowing words canvassing ‘support for the project … since it is not government owned … attracting funding support from international bodies and philanthropists abroad …informed by the first lady’s great compassion for the poor, the sick, the handicap[ped] especially women and children …’ Nigerians need to know more about the funds since Alhaja Yar Adua is supposedly doing it on behalf of – and in the name of the country. How much has been collected – from here and overseas, so far, and WHO the contributors are.  Is Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas financially involved?  Is the Alhaja going to hold public presentations at which state governments, federal agencies, the private sector will be asked to donate?  What is/what would be the Federal Government’s financial contribution to this project? I have a huge problem with such a vast amount not being channeled into existing institutions like University College Hospital, Ibadan, ABU-TH, Nsukka Teaching Hospital and other established medical centers… I’m not being a naysayer – as newspaper commentators who do not support the government wholesale are viewed – but I do not see this project succeeding as a first lady’s project.  Now, it is possible we are looking at something like the Cancer Center at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Muslim Saudi Arabia where the royal family AND Saudi Government are one.

 And with that, we arrive at my final question: what is the name of this cancer center and who will own it?  Nigerians need answers.”

She would remain close to the Alhaja until the late president was moved to Saudi and it became apparent he would not return to rule.  While many praised her for her "courage" when she spoke out at a ministerial meeting in line with what the public was thinking, I raised my reservation in a NEXT blog.  She would soon prove skeptics like me right when she moved from the PDP to APGA and declared her intention to contest a senatorial seat.

 “’Hypocrite of a woman’” stars in 1st Institutional awards for non-excellence” in December 2009 tells part of the tale of my disillusionment with Professor Akunyili; 'hypocrite of a woman' is a description I got from a blogger:

“CITATION:  I’ve waxed philosophical and even attempted poetry [Sisi Dora, U no de shame//all this lying is too much …] about your Kafkaesque metamorphosis since your fake drug-chasing days but you seem to have grown from Orwellian’s Squealer to Hitler’s Goebels.  You claim ‘we are actually achieving much,’ re your spending-mania project because your customer – pardon me, Nigeria’s customer via Outdoor Broadcasting equipment which I understand was never delivered for the soccer fiesta – ‘withdrew the Sony Play Station’ that demeaned Nigeria!  Dora, District 9, starring ‘Obesandjo’ which you banned, made scads of money. You also claim ‘Corporate Nigeria’ is doing the spending.  Funny, Obama for Africa’s Okerereke who used that phrase and Mrs. Ibru were your close pals whose media retainers I once credited for your daily appearances in newspapers …   

How about your role in getting Madam Ayoka ‘Christian Conscience’ Adebayo to do a volte face on Ekiti re-run?  You deprived Nigerians’ right to choose by banning District 9? I see that your medal will be tight on your neck, Dora, but as you explore ways of moving up the ladder of Nigeria, Inc., ‘a crime syndicate masquerading as a nation’ including playing a foot soldier in Mrs. Yar Adua’s cancer hospital, wear this with shame, assuming there’s any left.”

Congratulations, Anambrarians.  Congratulations, Dr. Ngige. 

This is the Southwest as we knew it!

When Southwestern Nigeria wakes up tomorrow morning, Thursday, April 28, it will be the dawn of a new era, the type the region used to know.  From Omuo-Akoko in Northern Ondo State, through Owo, Ondo Town to Ondo Waterside through Ijebu Waterside, to Lagos, through Ota, Abeokuta, Oyo North, down through Oyo Alaafin with a detour through Iwo, Osogbo, Ilesa, and ending at the political capital of a once vibrant region – the dawn of a glorious morn long predicted, is here. There is NOT a single PDP-controlled state in sight - all swept away by the Broom Revolution.

While we rejoice and thank those who work to liberate us from internal colonizers, the time for celebration is still ahead because there is a lot to do.  I must mention the sadness that millions felt at the near-turn of events as words went round that THEY were trying to change results in certain areas of Oyo State, hence the delay in announcing a winner but I think the fear of Oyo erupting and the repudiation of THEIR earlier claims of having finally captured the Southwest, was too much to gamble.

While basking in these victories, let us all hope for Nigeria’s golden morn – IF that’s what we want.  If we want to remain one, it is imperative - now more than ever - to negotiate the rule of our staying together.



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