Obit: Dora Akunyili, former Director of NAFDAC, former Information Minister dies at 59 – Tola Adenle

The death has been reported of former Managing Director of Nigeria’s Food & Drug Agency regulator who would later become an Information Minister. Dr. Dora Akunyili at an Indian Hospital.

The picture of her during the ongoing National Conference that was in the papers last month was shocking.  A normally robust, cheerful and healthy Akunyili looked decades older than her age; she had lost a lot of weight and looked emaciated but in the story that accompanied the picture, most were relieved that she was “back to good health …”  The news of her death, therefore, has been a big shock to everybody throughout Nigeria.

She was plucked from her position as a lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka to head a new agency that would fight the scourge of fake drugs as well as regulate the industry and factories that produced beverages and food.  To her eternal credit, the food and drug industry in Nigeria today owes whatever sanity that exists within it to her swashbuckling and tireless pioneering work.  She would earn a promotion to professorial rank while at the job.  Most Nigerians, including this blogger, had nothing but praises for Professor Akunyili in how she brought sanity to food and drug manufacturing in Nigeria.  Being able to purchase antibiotic capsules by the measure (as in buying rice, beans, et cetera) in the open market, including her native Eastern Nigeria which reportedly put her at great risk became a thing of the past.

As in most things Nigerian, Akunyili would join the derailed train that the civil administrations of Nigeria have become for about 10 years and lose her credibility when  she would take up appointment as Information Minister.  In that position, she would come face to face with what awaits most politicians who would not only sacrifice long-earned reputations for places on Nigeria’s gravy train, but would not get off the train even when they start getting smeared with the corruption broom – even if they are clean.

As Information Minister, three – of quite a few – happenings stand out as enough to have a person who wanted to keep her reputation intact, jump off the train of what Nigerians who used to respect her saw as enough to wonder, et tu Brute?

1.  The Ekiti electoral fiasco in which she played an active role in getting Madam “Christian Conscience” Ayoka, the Resident Electoral Commissioner to change her mind about resigning her appointment over what she saw as being used to change the will of the people.

2.  Being more than the principal cheerleader for Madam Yar Adua over the matter of a Cancer Treatment Hospital for which Alhaja Yar Adua had collected MILLIONS OF DOLLARS overseas, especially in the U.S.A. using her position as first lady.  Nigerians were never told how those millions were expended and who actually owned Abuja Cancer Center.  I wrote multiple essays over the matter asking Alhaja Yar Adua to speak up, and blaming Professor Osotimehin, the then Minister of Health for standing by and being present at fund raisers without really having any input in how such huge amount in foreign exchange could be better expended.  One in this blog containing the following excerpt:

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” and will have “a Board of Trustees of competent, honest and well-trusted Nigerians …

“I have a huge problem with such a vast amount not being channeled into existing institutions like the University College Hospital, Ibadan, ABU-TH, Nsukka Teaching Hospital and other established medical centers “that lack diagnostic capacity …

“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.  … 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.”

3.  When Dora Akunyili, the once-loved drug czarina who became a hated information minister banned DISTRICT 9, the movie that has a veiled star resembling the former president, I read that the movie went on to make scads of money. 

The referenced essay can be read at:

The Nation on Sunday, May 2009.


Professor Akunyili left her mark, no doubt, and just as Nigerians taking their turns on queues remains one of the legacies of WAI – War Against Indiscipline – instituted by the Buhari/Idiagbon government, generations yet unborn would learn about what the ever-smiling Dora did to sanitize drug manufacturing and retailing in Nigeria.  Gone are the days when you could go into the famous Onitsha market and buy a Kongo of tetracycline.

Professor Akunyili is survived by her spouse and children.

May she find eternal rest with the Lord.


 MONDAY, JUNE 9, 2014.  10:25 a.m. [GMT]




, , ,


Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

No comments yet.

Leave comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: