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Published On: Thu, Jun 12th, 2014

Akunyili: A leading light has gone out

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By Abdullahi Yunusa

Dora didn’t die today, she died the day she took up the appointment as NAFDAC DG- that day, she gave up her tomorrow for our today. Sleep on our altruistic heroine – Abdullahi O. Haruna Haruspice.

The above quote summarizes all that one needs to know  about the personality and times of Professor Dorothy Nkem Akunyili. Undoubtedly, her 59 years on earth, though short, judging by what she would have offered humanity if she had stayed a bit longer, were eventfully. To die and leave behind indelible traces of goodwill, reputation, selflessness and recognition are eloquent testimonies of a life well lived. Hers wasn’t a life of insatiability, avarice, egotism or narrow-mindedness. It was indeed a life lived for others. A life dedicated to adding value, meaning and joy to others even at the expense of her own dear soul. That was our very fearless, humane, patriotic, intelligent and cerebral Dora, the Amazon!

If tributes were all late Dora Akunyili needed to be brought back to life, she would have since returned to join her fellow delegates at the ongoing National Conference holding in Abuja. The barrage of amazing and well scripted tributes that have so far poured in since  this amazon breath her last are indicative of the fact that humanity benefited immensely from her. Quite rare, Nigerians across various social media platforms all praised, hailed and spoke so well of Professor Akunyili. Nigerians from all walks of life; diverse backgrounds and different religious and ideological leanings have brought down the wall that hitherto kept them apart to honour and celebrate an amazon.

Even in death, Dora remains a force to reckon with. Posterity will no doubt be fair and kind to her. Her rare and startling qualities as displayed both in her private and public activities are handy in grooming future leaders. God had blessed her with all she needed to be comfortable and remained quiet while she attends to family needs, late Dora chose to hit the streets to serve humanity.

Unlike her contemporaries who restricted themselves to their respective cocoons and territories for individual reasons, Dora gave her all just to ensure that people live happily and comfortably.

I am very sure historians and writers are already sharpening their pens to document late Dora’s amazing life and times for future generations. Dora is a brand that requires no packaging for her to be accepted. You really don’t have to talk too much or write in volumes to announce Dora to the world. She is loudly present in all homes, streets, hospitals, pharmacies, villages and towns. Not for her intervention, several Nigerians would have been sent to premature graves. Counterfeiters of drugs and other consumables were sent out of business. At some points she almost got  illed in the process. Strangely, this assassination attempt on her life didn’t discourage her from forging on.

She was determined and ready to flush out harbingers of death. To a very large extent she succeeded in sanitizing the pharmaceutical industry.

It is pretty impossible to forget Dora in decades to come. Dora is like an avatar. People like her come once in every generation. I bless God for gifting Dora to Nigeria and humanity. Patriotism was her other name. Dora’s passion for

Nigeria was outstanding. She wasn’t comfortable with the unfair and bad rating Nigeria gets at the world stage. Nigerians, in her estimation should be treated with tremendous respect and nothing less. She was optimistic and confident of the fact that Nigeria deserved much more than what her citizens were/are still according her. Her sermon was simple. For Nigeria to stand tall and firm in all spheres of human endeavours, Nigerians must be ready and willing to do the right thing, at the right time and for the right reasons.

Her “Nigeria, Good People and Great Nation” campaign was a huge success. Nigerians truly keyed into it, for that it became an instant success.

My hugest satisfaction is that she didn’t allow all the beautiful dreams she had die with her. She shaped and improved humanity with her dreams and ideas. She wasn’t greedy. She exhausted all the good-tidings that God deposited in her before she transited to the celestial abode. That was vintage, iconic, pragmatic and exemplary Dora.

She had beautiful plans for her dear country. Unfortunately, death, the enemy of man abruptly ended her sojourn on earth, thereby denying humanity the opportunity of tapping more from Dora’s bottomless well of knowledge. Even ill health couldn’t stop her from taking part in serious national activities. Many expressed shock and disbelief the first time she appeared as delegate at the ongoing National Conference in Abuja. Many doubted if she was truly the Dora they knew. Everything about her; her radiant looks, gift of the garb, unique ankara dress and coherence all disappeared. She struggled to talk, looked so frail and tired. Nigerians, including this writer were quick to cry out loud and clear on the need for Professor Akunyili to return home for medical attention.

Regrettably, even though she listened to Nigerians and returned to India for medical care, our dear Dora lost the battle while there.

Nigeria has lost one of her leading lights. Her remarkable performances at NAFDAC bear eloquent testimony of the very stuff she had in her. Ma’am, you indeed lived for others. We pray God almighty to grant your sweet soul eternal rest soul. Until we meet at our Master’s feet, goodnight Ma’am.

Abdullahi Yunusa is reachable on

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