Open Letter To Dora Akunyili


Dear Aunty Dora,
I write you this letter as your first nephew and first son of your late sister. I write you on behalf of our family, the family of your late eldest sister. I write with deep sorrow and pain in my heart. I have chosen this medium because it seems to be the only medium you enjoy and especially since you decided to politicise the death of my mother through the mass media. You are the Minister of Information and Communication and in control of government owned media. You have really demonstrated to us and all Nigerians how much powers you have by mobilising all government media to fight your private family battles. You know I have always cared for and respected you and all my aunties and uncles. This letter is out of care and concern for you Aunty. You may not appreciate it now but I am sure that in a few years’ time, it will all make sense. The goal of this letter is to remind you of our mortality in this world, and to beg of you to please let my mother truly rest in peace!

2.You would recall Aunty that when you were lobbying for the NAFDAC position, you asked my late mother and all of us to go on fasting and prayers and that if God answered our prayers, the family would never be the same again. It is up to you, Aunty, to assess whether in the last 10 years you have been in public service the family has seen more pain or gain. I now agree that power corrupts. But Aunty take it easy because as the late Azikiwe once reminded everyone, ‘no condition is permanent’! Life is a stage, and all positions remain temporal and ephemeral. In the end, you will still need this family, and you may not know exactly when or how!

3.Your tribute to my late mother attests to the fact that she literally brought you up, and was the matriarch of your family since your parents died early. But over the last several years, you brought so much pain and sorrow that she regretted having you as a sister. Her unanswered question remained: “what did I do to Dorothy?” Only you can answer that question! It speaks volumes that your eldest sister who doubled as your mother was sick for about six months and even flown abroad for six weeks and you did not know. Of course, if you were in talking terms with her or if you ever called her on phone, you would have known. Whatever may be your reasons for your behaviour towards her, it baffles us that you have no compassion even to the dead. Your conduct before, during and after the burial/funeral ceremonies gave the impression that you were bent on disrupting the ceremonies for reasons best known to you.

In the attempts, caution was thrown to the winds and perhaps you may not be aware that you committed several abominations in the process. (a) First and without consultation with our family, you left your hometown (Nanka) and came to set up a parallel, rival funeral site next to our compound (contrary to custom and tradition). When I noticed this abominable arrangement two weeks to the burial, I politely begged and explained to Uncle Anayo (your younger brother who came to make the arrangement) that it was not proper. We thought it was settled. My family was shocked to notice in the early hours of the burial day, that you adamantly went ahead to set up a tent beside our family house as your own funeral site. It took the intervention of our kindred, the traditional ruler, and the police to convince your occupation force to relocate to your home town Nanka as the tradition demanded. Of course, the soldiers and police you brought to enforce your wish brutalized several members of my kindred who protested the abomination. Aunty, our hearts bled. Is this the use of power which you asked us to fast and pray for? You know best the reasons for your strained relationship with my mother, and even at her death, you brought truck loads of soldiers and police to harass and beat up innocent people who came to mourn her death. We did not find this act funny, Aunty. Now that my mother has died, are you now on a mission to also conquer her family?

(b) Why did you not allow your immediate elder brother, Uncle Joseph, who is the first son of your parents, to be part of your delegation to the burial/funeral? By tradition, he was expected to lead the delegation of our uncles and aunties. We were shocked when you stood in the altar of God and publicly announced that your more successful younger brother, Uncle Anayo, was the head of the Edemobi family. Is Uncle Joe dead? Some of us can only hazard a guess as to the reasons. But Aunty, to deny him the opportunity to see the corpse of his eldest sister and also publicly deny him his birthright as the head of the Edemobi family (on tape) is an abomination! It pained us that Uncle Joe was not allowed to see his sister’s corpse and pay his last respects. Dear Aunty, there will be life after government!

(c) Again, Aunty, why would you bribe the Umuada Nanka (paid each N5,000) so that they won’t perform their last rites to my mother? On the morning of Saturday, July 17, we sent a bus to bring the leadership of Umuada as we were directed but were told that you asked them not to come. Must you go this far Aunty? Well, we are happy that we fulfilled all the requirements as demanded by your people and the Umuada, as required by custom and tradition, including the cow, etc. By tradition, you and the Umuada are now the ones owing my mother! Money, they say, is the root of all evils. With money, Aunty, you have created a crisis among the Umuada. Many of them have called us to complain that you have goaded them into committing an abomination by not giving my mother her right, and are now demanding a date from us so that they can shed the burden. We leave you and the Umuada to your conscience, to God, and the spirit of my mother!

(d) We heard you were complaining that the corpse of my mother was not brought to you at Nanka before the burial. Very funny, isn’t it, Aunty? Remember this was the woman you had not spoken to in over a year. How many times in the last five years did my mother enter that compound? Why would she do so only as a corpse? By the way, when did it become the custom and tradition of Nanka that a married daughter of Nanka would never be buried unless and until the corpse has been taken to her father’s compound in Nanka? Aunty, I am sure you know enough that taking of corpses to the deceased’s father’s home is simply a gesture of goodwill (especially when the corpse has been put in a mortuary, where it is convenient to do so, and where existing relationship is cordial) and never a requirement by custom and tradition in Nanka or even the environs. What if she was married in Calabar and the survivors had no money to even put the corpse in the mortuary?

Finally, everyone of the over ten thousand people who attended the two-day events attested that it was a funeral to be remembered for years for its huge success. While everyone was praising us and our in-laws for giving our mother a historic burial, you went ahead to call a press conference to give bad publicity to the events. Well, he who has decided to dance naked in the market place must not blame the children for taking a glance at his nudity. I will refrain from commenting on that press conference and your spurious allegations therein. We were all shocked that you could boldly fabricate such stories about thugs and tell the whole world. My mother must be perplexed anywhere she is about your conduct and how you are paying back her family for all she did for you. Think about this Aunty, you could not devote one minute of network news to announce the death of your eldest sister but devoted minutes of airtime in all TV stations including the NTA network news, radio, and the print media to run your obviously self-serving advertisements to ensure that the burial had a bad press. It is well!

4. My last word, Aunty, is that you should take it easy. Please watch it Aunty because, aside from the choruses and trumpets that go with power, the ship may be getting empty by the day. Always remember, we all love you. We earnestly pray that you will still come to the reality that aside from God, your most important possession is family! We are still observing the 40 days of mourning, but I will not forget to send our belated happy birthday wishes.

We will continue to pray for you, Aunty!
With all best wishes,

—Your nephew, Engr. Emeka Ezenwanne

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