Biography of Dora Akinyili, life and career.

Biography of Dora Akinyili, life and career.

Dora Akunyili
Dora Akunyili
Prof. Dora Nkem Akunyili (OFR) was born in Makurdi, Benue State, Nigeria on the 14th of July 1954 to Chief & Mrs Paul Young Edemobi. She was a devout Catholic and was happily married to Dr. J.C. Akunyili, a Medical Practitioner and they were
blessed with six children and three grandchildren. Her hobbies included reading, writing, cooking and travelling. She spoke  Igbo and English fluently.

She died in an India Hospital on June 7, 2014 after a long battle with Cancer at the age of 59 years.

Prof. Akunyili, was an internationally renowned Pharmacist, Pharmacologist, Erudite Scholar, Seasoned Administrator, and a visionary leader.

She has served her country in numerous strategic positions including as Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Federal Minister of Information and Communication.

Dora Akunyili had her early elementary Education at St. Patrick?s Primary School, Isuofia, Anambra State in 1966 and proceeded to Queen of the Rosary Secondary School, Nsukka, Enugu State in 1973 and finished with honours.

These exceptional results in the First School Leaving Certificate, and W.A.S.C. earned her the Eastern Nigerian Government Post Primary Scholarship and the Federal Government of Nigeria Undergraduate Scholarship. She obtained her First Degree in Pharmacology B.Pharm (Hons) in 1978 and her PhD in 1985 from University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Professor Akunyili was a Post Doctorate Fellow of University of London and a Fellow of the West African Post Graduate College of Pharmacists. 
She was a Post Doctorate Fellow of University of London, Fellow of the West African Post Graduate College of Pharmacists, Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) and member of other learned societies, a few of which are New York Academy of Science, International Narcotics Control Board, United States Pharmacopeia (USP) Expert Committee, Association for African Medicinal Plant Standards (AAMPS), Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), and International Council for Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD).. Dora Akunyili has enjoyed many academic awards and recognitions.
Prof. Dora Akunyili was appointed Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigeria from April 2001-2008. Here she recorded outstanding success. Prior to her appointment, food and drug regulation in Nigeria was chaotic. All manner of adulterated, fake and substandard food and drugs were dumped into Nigeria resulting in over 60 percent of fake drugs in circulation.

When she assumed office, she brought in a new culture of excellence and honesty to NAFDAC and the entire Nigerian public service. As a result, the level of fake and counterfeit drugs in circulation dropped to 16.7 percent with vast improvement in the food and other regulated sectors.

A commentator in a national newspaper once wrote, ?The NAFDAC Director General is a revolutionary. She has not only changed NAFDAC, she has also changed the pharmaceutical industry in the country.?

From December 2008 ? December 2010, she worked as the Honourable Minister of Information and Communications, Federal Republic of Nigeria.

As the Honourable Minister, Prof. Akunyili anchored the Re-branding Nigeria Project driven by the slogan, Nigeria Good People, Great Nation.
The programme was conceived as an internal process to address Nigeria?s negative image both at home and abroad. Dora has proved her versatility in all areas of human endeavour as she also ventured into politics when she aspired to serve her own people in Anambra State as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
She has gained both local and international recognition and has won numerous awards for her work in pharmacology, public health and human rights.

Dora Akunyili contested for the Senatorial seat for Anambra central in Anambra State under the platform of  All Progressive Grand Alliance(APGA) in the April 2011 elections but was defeated by Chris Ngige of Action Congress of Nigeria. She thereafter sent a petition to the Independent National Electoral Commission disputing the result.

After her appointment as Director General of NAFDAC in April 2001, Dora Akunyili?s major aim and priority was to eliminate counterfeit drugs and unsafe food. 
Prior to her tenure at NAFDAC, fake and substandard foods and drugs were sold in Nigeria without any form of regulation. She was disheartened that Nigerians were using fake drugs to fight deadly diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis, with no result. Although Dora Akunyili faced a major threat to her personal safety and her life in her struggle to combat the issue of fake drugs, she never relented, she was courageous to the end of her tenure as the NAFDAC boss.

She  was a senior lecturer and consultant pharmacologist at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Enugu campus, before she  became the  NAFDAC boss.

Akunyili started her career working as a hospital pharmacist from 1978-1981, at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Enugu, after which she  ventured into academics and became  senior research assistant in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, UNN from 1982-1986. In the university system, she made steady progress and rose from Lecturer I in 1986 until she became  senior lecturer in 1990. She transferred to the Faculty of Medicine, UNN in 1992, where she was made a consultant pharmacologist in 1996, a post she held until April 12, 2001. Because of her love for education and care for the young, she was  a part-time lecturer at the west African postgraduate School of pharmacists Lagos, Nigeria from 1992 to 1995.

Dora Akunyili?s was prepared for her administrative duties as the NAFDAC boss after her position as the zonal secretary of  the Petroleum Special Trust Fund (PTF), coordinating projects in the five zones of the Southeastern States of Nigeria (Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo States).
She also served as a Supervisor for Agriculture and a Member of the Caretaker Committee for her Local Government, Anaocha Local Government Area of Anambra State from 1994 to 1996. From 1992 to 1994, Akunyili served as a member of State's Hospitals Management Board and State Advisory Council for Women Commission both in Anambra State of Nigeria.
Internationally, as Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Akunyili was appointed Chairman of West African Drug Regulatory Agencies Network (WADRAN) in March 2006 and as Vice Chairman of the International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force (IMPACT) in November 2006.

As a Scientist and a Scholar, she presented over 20 research papers in various local and International Scientific Conferences, and published a book and 18 Journal Articles. She supervised PhD and Masters candidates in Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka and U.N.N. respectively both in Nigeria. Even as the Director General of NAFDAC, Dr. Akunyili found time to supervise six Postgraduate students in the College of Medicine U.N.N. She was also Chief Examiner in Pharmacology for 3rd M.B.B.S College of Medicine, Abia State University Uturu, Nigeria.
Akunyili was also a very active member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (P.S.N.)

Her funeral, which took place on the 27th and 28th of August 2014 was attended by many  dignitries within Nigeria and abroad including President Goodluck Jonathan and former military head of state Gen. Yakubu Gowon.

Dora Akunyili was laid to rest in Agulu in Anambra State.
For her industry and commitment to the values of honesty, transparency and selfless service, Prof. Akunyili has received over six hundred Awards and Recognitions locally and internationally, notably among which are: ? Conferment with the National Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) and Recognition as an Icon of Hope for Nigerians by President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo(2002); Person of the Year 2005 Award by Silverbird Communications (2006); Nigeria?s Five Greatest Living Legends Award by Silverbird Group and Vanguard Media (Dec. 2009); Recognition as Nigerian Woman of Distinction during the Nigeria @50 Independence Anniversary Celebration (Sept. 2010); and as Minister of the Year 2010 by Nigeria Royalty Award (Dec. 2010). Integrity Award by Transparency International in South Korea (2003); Honoured as one of the 18 heroes (Health) of our time by TIME Magazine, New York (2005); Grassroots Human Rights Campaigner Award by Human Rights Defence Organization (International Service) in British House of Commons (2005); Special Award for Combating Economic Crime by International Chamber of Commerce-Commercial Crime Services London (2004); Amazon of Integrity by National Council of Women Society (2004); Pharmacist of the Year Medal Award by International Pharmaceutical Federation, FIP (2005); Honourary Degree of Doctor of Laws by University of Bristol, London (2006); Honorary Georgia Citizen by The State of Georgia, USA (2006); Agribusiness, International Euro Market and Transbusiness Awards respectively for 2003, 2005 and 2006 by European Marketing Research Centre (EMRC), Brussels; Elected Honourary Member of The Royal Pharmaceutical Society Of Great Britain, London, by The Royal Pharmaceutical Society Of Great Britain, London (2008); Conferred with the prestigious Harmony Tribute Award by Planet Africa Television Canada (2010).

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