June 23, 2024
Dora Akunyili Biography, career

Dora Akunyili Biography

Dora Akunyili was a pharmacist, professor and former Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), read her exclusive biography here…

Curiosities about Akunyule

Date of birth: July 14, 1954, Agulu
Died: June 7, 2014, India
Spouse: JC Akunyili
Children: Three (3) – Ijeoma, Njideka, Edozie Akunyili
Education: University of Nigeria, UNN Nsukka (1985)
Books: The War on Counterfeit Medicines: My Story

dora akunyili

Difficult years of childhood

My father loved me when she was little. I remember the priority he had over my brothers. This was due, in large part, to my academic performance. When my mother complained that I was spoiled, she often responded that my mind would allow me to cook and do housework aplenty so that I could accomplish any household task. Finally, my mother conspired with some of our close relatives and at the age of 10 I was taken to the town of Isovia to live with my grandmother and uncle. My father gave up because he believed that growing up with his uncle, a teacher, would train me well.

My life in the village is an important part of my childhood memories. You stress me. Although my father was successful in his leather business in Makurdi, where he lived with his mother and his siblings, I had to endure the rigors of village life. My normal school day in elementary school began at four or five in the morning by going to the riverbed. The river channel was about three miles inside Katan. After that, I went to weed the field, arrived home at 6 am, swept the compound, swept my grandmother’s small house, heated the cassava fufu (akpo) left over from the night before, ate it and washed face. Hands and feet, not having enough water to wash each morning. I used to walk about a mile to school, and if I arrived a minute after eight, my teacher, who didn’t care what happened before I got to school, would spank me mercilessly. Sometimes I was very sleepy in class, especially when I had to stay up until 4 in the morning to watch the broadcast. There was no lunch during the break.

dora akunyili Biography

My parents sent me money and food to make sure I was comfortable, but in the typical village setting of the early 1960s this would have been considered spoiling the child. After finishing school at 2pm, he would come home, cook potatoes and eat them with oil or vegetables during the vegetable season. He ate rice with pleasure only on Sunday afternoon. Immediately after eating, I would go out to look for firewood, and when we had enough firewood, which was not the case, I would rest for a while. But my grandmother considered any kind of rest lazy. I do not regret the difficulties I faced because they trained me to be strong, resilient and able to adapt to any situation. As soon as the sun set, we would go to the fields and weed, plant or harvest, depending on the season. We leave the farm at sunset. After we got home, we would make soup or reheat old soup and cook dinner. After dinner, I would clean the house and do my homework at a table by lighting a smoke lamp, then go to sleep on a rug placed on the cement floor. My parents sent a foldable bed to make sure I was comfortable, but the driver who delivered it never explained to us what it was because it was folded. As such, I never used it until I developed severe pneumonia, which nearly killed me.

Access to doctors and health services in the village was limited. I was taken to Adaji Hospital near Isuvia village in Anambra State, where I remained for several weeks. You saved my life thanks to divine intervention. After they got sick, they said the folded thing was a folding bed. Someone was sent from Makurdi to prepare my bed. Thus began the first part of my stay in the city. It was not unusual for children to rebel against their parents. Instead, he cried as a way to respond to anything that was perceived as inappropriate. Someone fell asleep after crying.

my personality type

I started my primary education at Holy Spirit Primary School in Markudi. It was an international school. There were children of different ethnic backgrounds. I gained the attention of my teachers for my excellent academic performance. But I couldn’t complete my primary education there because I emigrated to Isovia. I attended St. Patrick’s Primary School, where I finished with distinction and received a post-primary scholarship from the Government of Eastern Nigeria. In 1967, the civil war interrupted secondary education. I was at Queen of the Rosary High School. We resumed work in 1970 and I graduated with distinction in 1973. I had a hard time deciding what course to study at university. As a science student, chemistry and mathematics were my favorite subjects. However, at that time it was common for students to study medicine. So, being the valedictorian of my class after my first year at university, I was destined to study medicine.

When I applied to medical school, admission was closed. Maybe it was pure divine providence. The then dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Professor Odekun, promised to see what could be done to ensure that he never returned. I wanted a course that would challenge me mentally. So I decided to study pharmacy. I did my first degree and PhD on the course. Here are some things I’ve learned over the years about smart students. I never felt like I was doing something that no one else could do, because I told myself that if I had gotten 75%, I could have gotten 85%. After the exam, I cry when I remember the number I didn’t answer correctly and criticize my effort. I always felt like I could do better. I have always loved my books for as long as I can remember. When I lost my father, he gave me more motivation to continue my studies. I didn’t care about appearance and beauty like my peers. I didn’t start wearing powder or lipstick until I graduated college. When I was in high school, I only used pomade. If there’s one thing I care about, it’s cleanliness, but being obsessed with fashion was out of my reach. Even after a long time of marriage, it took me some time to get used to wearing makeup. I think it’s just my personality type. I trust in God and dedicate myself to hard work. These are the things that keep me going. I have no choice but to be serious.

Whatever I do, I do it to the best of my ability. It doesn’t matter if I’m doing something that puts me in the public eye or something that no one sees. I believe in being an honest woman. After my time with the PTF, that explains why I don’t think it’s a big deal to return unspent money to the government. The lack of transparency and honesty in public offices should make headlines. When the former military chief, General Muhammadu Buhari, praised me, I told myself that he was only representing myself. Moving things that don’t belong to me will give me sleepless nights. These are principles that have always worked and have their rewards.

My Career

My first work experience was at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital. I worked there as a hospital pharmacist. After my graduate studies, I worked as a university professor and rose to the position of full professor. In 1992, I was transferred to the University of Nigeria (UNN) School of Medicine, where I was appointed as a Pharmacy Consultant in 1996. I worked in my local government as an agricultural supervisor and as a committee member from 1994 to 1996. I was also a member of the Government Hospitals Board of Directors and Advisory Board Government Women’s Commission, both in Anambra State. I was appointed Regional Secretary of the Petroleum Trust Fund in 1996 where I coordinated all projects in the five south-eastern states: Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo. I returned to the University of Nigeria, Nuska, cleaned out my books, cleaned my desk, and started teaching again. I love the academic environment and the university provides me with that. At first, my administrative work was very stressful on my body. This is different from the peace and relaxation that education gives us. But I’m used to it.

In 2001, President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed me as Director of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). I am a member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria and have held various positions including National Vice President of the Pharmaceutical Society (1992-1995) and President of Enugu State Chapter from 1992 to 1998. I have published two books. Thirty article magazines. From 1992 to 1995 I was a part-time lecturer at the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists. I am a member of scientific societies including the New York Academy of Sciences, the Nigerian Pharmacological Society, and the International Pharmaceutical Federation, to name a few.

As Chairman of NAFDAC

When I arrived at NAFDAC, the work environment was difficult for me at first. Before I took office, food and drug regulation was a mess. But it didn’t take me long to adjust to my responsibilities. My previous experience has helped me greatly at the managerial level. I knew all the subtleties of the profession. It was a challenge because I was combining academic work with that. This is because I love teaching. I never wanted to lose touch with the university. The main challenges we face at NAFDAC include conflicts of interest, mis-declaration of goods at ports, counterfeiting or circulation of counterfeit medicines (manufacturing), etc. To combat these corrupt practices, we have left our shores. NAFDAC staff are informed of the consequences of falling into corrupt practices, so most of them will not risk getting involved in them.

I bring this culture of excellence and honesty to NAFDAC because if we want to achieve anything meaningful, we must be honest ourselves. We are not slowing down in our efforts to eradicate counterfeit and substandard products in Nigeria. There are threats of physical harm, abusive phone calls, hate mail, mysterious objects and live animals like a turtle placed in my office to discourage me. But as a devout Catholic, I believe that God is in control of everything that happens. The death of my sister Vivian, a diabetic, after she was injected with placebo insulin, encouraged me to continue what I do. I’m not alone.

Many Nigerians work hard. They are doing things right to make the country a great place. It is simply that we have what I call the “effective minority,” i.e. troublemakers who want to keep the country in perpetual corruption. That doesn’t stop me because, frankly, I don’t mind dying for a good cause. As long as I’m alive and in this situation, I must do things right. This helps me bounce back every time I encounter an obstacle. I believe that not moving forward is accepting defeat. There are those who try to belittle what we do here, but that does not bother me because it is God who makes everyone’s work appreciated. It is not because of one’s work that one is appreciated. I try as much as possible to train my colleagues and gain their respect. In this way, they also get involved.

The success we have achieved is beyond my imagination. For example, if someone told me we’d be moving into an office like this after renting a couple of apartments, I’d be inclined to say they were exaggerating. This is God’s work. Nothing has changed. It’s just that I have more and more gray hair as I get older. Women are more humble and honest than men in organizational work. They are generally not greedy. But this does not mean that women are not corrupt. Thank God for the Obasanjo administration, where if a man and a woman with the same qualifications are offered for a position, the president usually takes the woman for the position. Women are now on equal footing with men. I have never been discriminated against because of my gender. Maybe because I’ve always loved competing with men. Since there is no other gender, I feel there is no real competition.

In my part of the country, the aspect of our tradition that discriminates against women is the right to inheritance. But this is gradually disappearing because as people become more enlightened, they write their wills, and their children, both boys and girls, can access their property. I take every opportunity I get when I attend women’s conferences to say that women have no reason to underestimate themselves. She has to work hard if she wants to build her self-confidence. Helping widows is especially important to me.

strong relationship

Marriage becomes more pleasant when there is a close relationship between the spouses. It is somewhat difficult to achieve this closeness in the early years of marriage, especially if the couples are in their early twenties. Many wives face problems in the early years of marriage. They begin to make an effort to turn their wife into an ideal person. Nothing could be more frustrating. The older the partners are, the more they value each other. As they have children and grow together, they learn to appreciate each other’s weaknesses and exploit their own strengths. I am closer to my husband than in previous years. It’s natural considering we have completely different family backgrounds. If a couple stays together for the first five to ten years of their married life, the chances of separation are minimal. This is because in the early years one may have defects and weaknesses.

This will no longer be a big problem. I got married when I was in my early twenties, in my third year of college. How we got on our nerves then! Couples need to stop wanting to be 100% compatible. Does not exist. It is also no use thinking that you can learn everything about an individual during a courtship. For example, if a person was courting someone for five to nine years and the relationship broke down, would the person enter into a relationship with another person for another five years? How old would a person be if they finally met the person who fulfilled all of their expectations? It’s unrealistic, to say the least. I think this is where smart parents who are close to their children make a difference. Once a child has enough reason to love someone and want to be her spouse, he should be encouraged to follow through.

One should marry someone they respect. Respect trumps love. How does a person love someone who doesn’t respect them? If a person respects his fiancé, love will surely arise from that relationship. A successful marriage requires a lot of hard work. We are all imperfect individuals, not only as a result of gender but also other influencing environmental factors. Being a mother goes beyond being the mother of your biological children. Also include other children. Motherhood is an incredible experience. It provides a lot of knowledge about human behavior. You go through a lot just to make sure your children grow up properly and do well because they create a place for themselves, and I still worry about my married daughter. But it can be a terrible experience if a person has a child who misbehaves. Parents should pay good attention to their children from childhood.

When a child is trained in good values, she grows with them. Some parents abandon their children, hoping that they will be useful. It’s not possible. Regardless of a mother’s worldly intrusions, she must dedicate time to her children so that they truly become hers. My children are my friends. They are free to ask me all kinds of questions: “Mom, when did you have your first kiss?” etc They are free with me because we find time to discuss things together. There is nothing more important than good communication with children.

Aging gracefully!

I love to cook, but there is no time to do it right now. I love rice and pasta. I also like Semovita. In general, I have reduced the amount of food I eat due to age. I don’t have any hobbies but I do some exercise every morning. I want people to remember me as someone who, together with the NAFDAC team, eliminated counterfeit medicines in Nigeria to a minimum. I want to be able to look back and see that I helped my children be where God wants them to be, while growing gracefully with my husband.

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