" ITREALMS: Time to celebrate Dora Akunyili, a woman of substance!

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Time to celebrate Dora Akunyili, a woman of substance!

Today, Wednesday, 7th June,2017 marks the third year  remembrance anniversary of  Prof. Dora Akunyili, writes Chris Uruakpa.

To many, she was an icon, to others she was a source of inspiration. Prof. Dora Akunyili was a brilliant pharmacist, pharmacologist, an erudite scholar, a seasoned administrator, a visionary leader, an embodiment of grace, a woman of substance, unequalled character who brought respect and glory to the nation.

She was fearless, proactive and was a role model to a lot of Nigerians. A physical embodiment of what it means to truly serve and honour the people who entrusted you with power.

Akunyili rose to the corridors of power through a combination of sheer honesty and by dint of hard work. Even from a distance, one could sense her commitment and share in her dream.

Like a star in the dark firmament, she was the shining star that could not be shut out. When she started her job as the Director-General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), she trawled drugs market, hospitals and clinics, and she was horrified at what she discovered. From Idumota to Onitsha and Kano open market distribution channels, Prof. Dora Akunyili went to the "den of counterfeiters" and made known to them that it would not be business as usual, advising them all to look for alternatives means of survival.

I must say here that before she held sway at NAFDAC, hospitals in the country used fake and contaminated drugs, surgeons used fake adrenalin to re-start the heart, and anesthetists gave sub-strength muscle relaxant to patients in their operating theatres. When the public saw the dragons she slayed, counterfeiters fought back.

They burnt some NAFDAC offices, she suffered two assassination attempts and also threatened to kill her children. She chalked up points for Nigeria globally and redeemed her image. Akunyili was everything. She was fearless, incorruptible, bold and principled. She was a patriot, a nationalist and a completely detribalized Nigerian.

At a time when her mates were chasing the mundane, the woman with the simple Ankara fabric worked very hard to stamp her feet. Akunyili seemed to have her time cut out for her in public service. Her birth in Makurdi made her a Pan-Nigerian. There was no Igbo, Hausa or Yoruba, for her there was only one Nigeria.

Going down memory lane, I remember when she broke down and said tearfully "fake drugs have been used to massacre innocent lives and it is a crime against humanity". We can protect ourselves against AIDS, but we can do nothing against a deadly drug.

For the records, Akunyili a consummate and passionate regulator will remain a regulator extraordinaire in the annals of the nation.

On a day like this, Nigerians still remember the late Prof. Dora Akunyili and miss her in the defiant moments when she stood her ground resolute in her faith, commitment and purpose. Nigerians are still singing her praises.

Dora, you lived and worked like no mere mortal, but we are all mortals. In an environment steeped in corruption, it was not an easy road.

Conclusively, we remember Prof. Dora today with a great sense of fulfilment for a life well lived. A life of service to humanity. Prof. Dora, we won't forget you.

May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God continue to rest in peace, Amen.

Chris Urukpa/GEE

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