Dora Akunyili was a Nigerian pharmacologist, scholar, and public servant who dedicated her life to improving the health and well-being of people in her country. She was born on July 14, 1954, in Makurdi, Benue State, Nigeria, and passed away on June 7, 2014, in India. Akunyili is best known for her work as the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) from 2001 to 2008, where she led a successful campaign against counterfeit drugs in Nigeria. Her contributions to public health and safety earned her numerous awards and accolades throughout her career.
In this article, we will explore the life and legacy of Dora Akunyili, from her early years to her rise to prominence in Nigerian politics and beyond.
Dora Akunyili Early Life and Education
Dora Akunyili was born on July 14, 1954, in Makurdi, Benue State, Nigeria, to Chief Paul Young Edemobi and Mrs. Edemobi. She attended St. Patrick’s Primary School, Isuofia, Anambra State, where she obtained her First School Leaving Certificate in 1966. She then proceeded to Queen of the Rosary Secondary School, Nsukka, Enugu State, where she graduated with a Grade I Distinction in the West African School Certificate Examination (W.A.S.C) in 1973.
She won the Eastern Nigerian Government Post Primary Scholarship and the Federal Government of Nigeria Undergraduate Scholarship, which enabled her to study pharmacology at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where she graduated in 1978. She later received her Ph.D. in ethnopharmacology from the same university in 1985.
During her early career, she worked as a hospital pharmacist at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu State, and served on several state government boards. In 1996, she became Zonal Secretary of the Petroleum Special Trust Fund (P.T.F), coordinating projects funded by profits from oil in Nigeria’s South Eastern States.
Career in Public Service
Dora Akunyili’s career in public service spans over two decades. She served on several state government boards and was named Supervisory Councilor for Agriculture in a local government unit in Anambra State ¹. In 1996, she became Zonal Secretary of the Petroleum Special Trust Fund (P.T.F), coordinating projects funded by profits from oil in Nigeria’s South Eastern States.
In 2001, President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed her the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). During her tenure at NAFDAC, she led a successful campaign against counterfeit drugs in Nigeria, which earned her international recognition and numerous accolades.
In 2008, she was appointed Minister of Information and Communication by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, a position she held until 2010. Throughout her career, Akunyili was known for her integrity, courage, and commitment to public service.
Dora Akunyili was married to Dr. Chike Akunyili, and their marriage was blessed with six children.
In 1988, Dora Akunyili’s sister died after being given injections of fake insulin as part of regular diabetes treatment, which motivated her to fight against counterfeit drugs.
In 2003, she survived an assassination attempt by unknown gunmen who attacked her convoy in Anambra State.
On June 7, 2014, Dora Akunyili passed away in India after a battle with cancer.
On September 28, 2021, her husband, Dr. Chike Akunyili, was killed by gunmen in Nkpor, Anambra State, on his way back from an event to honor his late wife at Sharon Hall, All Saints Cathedral, Onitsha, organized by the University of Nigeria Nsukka Alumni Association (UNAA).
Dora Akunyili was a remarkable woman who dedicated her life to public service and improving the lives of people in Nigeria. She was a trailblazer in the fight against counterfeit drugs and made significant contributions to Nigerian politics. Her legacy of leadership, integrity, and courage continues to inspire people around the world. In this article, we explored the life and achievements of Dora Akunyili, from her early years to her rise to prominence in Nigerian politics and beyond.