On the 7th of June 2014, Dr. Mrs. Dora Nkem Akunyili, a woman whose strength, ideals and principle shaped Nigeria died. She served as the Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control where she fought the sale of fake drugs and other food products dangerous to the health and well being of Nigerians.
Born in Makurdi, Benue State, Akuyili started her educational career with a distinction in her First School Leaving Certificate at St. Patrick’s Primary School, Isuofia, Anambra State in 1966, and the West African School Certificate (WASC) with Grade I Distinction in 1973 from Queen of the Rosary Secondary School, Nsukka, Nigeria.
All through her career from school days up till the professional level, there have been traces of exceptional leadership characteristics, many of which were eventually seen by a larger population of Nigerians when she became the DG of NAFDAC in April 2001. For Dora Akuyili, everything she found herself doing was more than the ROLE, but about the GOAL to achieve. She was Nigeria’s Honourable Minister of Information and Communications until December 16, 2010, when she resigned to further actualise her ambition of becoming the Senator representing Anambra Central in the National Assembly. She is an internationally renowned Pharmacist, Pharmacologist, Erudite Scholar, Seasoned Administrator, and a visionary leader. She has gained international recognition and won hundreds of awards for her work in pharmacology, public health and human rights.
Akunyili prepared herself for the administrative position at NAFDAC by her four years stretch as Zonal Secretary of Petroleum Special Trust Fund (PTF), coordinating all projects in the five south-eastern states of Nigeria (Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States). Recall that while serving at PTF under President Muhammadu Buhari, she took ill and was given a scary diagnosis in a medical facility in Nigeria which necessitated her going to the United Kingdom for treatment. The PTF gave her the medical expenses, but upon arriving in the UK, she was told that she was misdiagnosed and that she would be all right without treatment. Her exceptional virtues were evidenced when she returned to Nigeria and refunded the medical expenses to the agency. Impressive! In the history of Nigeria, no political office holder has done such neither has anyone broken her record? The late DG of NAFDAC did everything within her capacity for the good of Nigeria without strings attached. Before she became the Minister of Information and Communication, the world had a very negative perception of Nigeria. But with the Good People, Great Nation Campaign, the re-brand Nigeria project went a long way in shaping the image.