The murder of Dr. Chike Akunyili on Tuesday evening makes our country diminish. It is a direct attack on our humanity. He was the widower of Professor Dora Akunyili, the Amazon who pioneered the National Agency for Foods, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), and later served as Minister of Information under President Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. What happened was a massacre when Dr. Akunyili’s security squad, his driver, and two other people were killed. Dora must still be awake in heaven as her son just escaped the carnage when he decided to drive in a different car instead of following his father.
Dora was the target of several assassinations because of her frontal war against the drug mafia. When she died in distant India in 2014 after a long battle with cancer, someone said she was spiritually murdered. Yesterday her husband hurried to join her. What a burden on a family!
This is a difficult time for the Akunyili family, especially the children who have suddenly been orphaned in such brutal and final ways. On Tuesday, Dr. Akunyili attended an event organized by the University of Nigeria Alumni Association (UNAA). The event took place at Sharon Hall in All Saints Cathedral, Onitsha. Akunyili had come to the event with his son. The UNAA had decided to posthumously honor Dora and Dr. Akunyili thought it appropriate that he and the son be present. He donated N500,000.00 to the association on behalf of his family. His son Obum accompanied his father to the car at the end of the ceremony. Father and son hugged and then parted. Little did the son know that his father was headed for sunset.
It was reported that gunmen attacked Akunyili in Umooji, Idemili Township. They shot him repeatedly and made sure he was dead. They also killed four other people with him. Then the assassins disappeared. It was a job well done. When armed men attacked Professor Dora Akunyili on December 26, 2003 in her hometown of Agulu, Anaocha LGA, she escaped. Two men were eventually on trial for the attempted assassination. I cannot remember the fate that befell the two defendants. Are you back in your cozy home?
But we must lament the fate that befell us. Some people have begun to blame elements sympathetic to the outlawed indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB) for Akunyili’s cruel fate. The police authorities have not yet issued a statement at the time of going to press. The IPOB has not issued a statement either, but in recent weeks, especially since the arrest of its leader Nnamdi Kanu, who is already on trial in Abuja for alleged terrorism, the group has been threatened with hell and brimstone. Now that!
The security situation in the country is worrying, but that in the heartland of the Igbo people is really frightening. We have had prison breakouts and attacks on police stations. We have had attacks on banks in the past few weeks. Just last week, IPOB issued a statement that all public institutions will not be allowed to fly the national flag of Nigeria during the independence anniversary celebrations tomorrow. Nobody is sure what protection bank branches, especially those outside the state capitals, can offer. Believe it or not, IPOB has become a huge shadow over the southeast and Igbo leaders seem helpless about it.
As frankly stated, the goal of IPOB is the secession of the southeast from Nigeria. How they want to achieve this is unclear. What they have achieved so far is the destruction of the lives of ordinary people in the East. It is a shame that the leaders appear helpless.
We are waiting for the police to testify about this gruesome attack. As usual, the governors would also make their statements. Then the president would also issue a statement and instruct the police inspector general to find the murderers. We would make a lot of moves and then Nigeria would carry on as usual while the killers would most likely move on to the next target. How did we get this pass?
There is no doubt that our military is doing its best in the northeast where it faces the Boko Haram terrorist group and its supporters. Serious action is underway in the northwest as well. Military operations are ongoing in many parts of the country, including the ongoing pursuit of IPOB and its military wing. What is missing is the apparent failure to penetrate the high command of all these terrorist organizations, including those whom the federal government continues to refer to as bandits.
This war on terror cannot be won on the battlefield alone. It has to be carried onto the battlefield of the mind. We need to know those who are funding this war against our country. It is obvious that by making regular and handsome ransom payments, they are getting a lot of return on their investments. This situation is not acceptable. And if there is a gangland execution like the one Dr. Akunyili happened, then we know that it wasn’t an accident. Some people plan to take advantage of it somewhere.
What is strange about the violence in the east is that the IPOB claimed they were fighting for the Igbo, but they were also busy killing the Igbo. Isn’t it obvious that this IPOB love for the Igbo is really not the kind of love the Igbo would like? So you are wondering what and for what purpose this IPOB love serves? Good or bad? Freedom or Slavery? They would not even allow basic democratic freedom of choice and debate. For them, anyone who disagrees with them is already a traitor. You cannot speak of a new style of resistance or a new method of fighting. Any deviation is considered sabotage! What kind of organization is that?
Even if IPOB is not involved in this attack, its opponent would try to hang it by the neck. Like it or not, IPOB will shape the 2023 presidential campaign. Although there are many parties on paper, everyone knows that there are only two parties to be reckoned with in the presidency: the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
During the era of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the PDP had its largest support base in Igbo country. Despite the loss of power in 2015, most Igbo voters have remained loyal to the PDP. With the rough penetration of IPOB, the PDP leaders may have realized that the party can no longer put its biggest egg in the Igbo basket.
Under normal circumstances, the PDP’s presidential ticket in 2023 should go to an Igbo candidate, given the party’s weight in the southeast. With the upcoming competition for party leadership, however, it is becoming apparent that the PDP will direct its next presidential candidate north. All those who show interest in becoming the party’s next federal chairman come from the south. It is fundamental that in Nigeria both the presidential candidate and the party leader cannot come from the same zone.
Apparently, IPOB wants Biafra. Majority Igbo would prefer the presidency. There is no way the Igbo could get the two at the same time. Right now you can help us find the killers of Dr. Find Akunyili. This family deserves justice.