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Dora Akunyili (Biograhy)

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Dora Nkem Akunyili (born July 14, 1954 in Makurdi, Benue State) is the former Director General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) of Nigeria and former (December 17, 2008 - December 15, 2010) Nigerian Minister of Information and Communications. She is a pharmacist and governmental administrator who has gained international recognition and won hundreds of awards for her work in pharmacology, public health and human rights.  


Akunyili ran for election as Senator for Anambra Central on the All Progressive Grand Alliance[APGA] platform in April 2011 but was defeated by Chris Ngige of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). She immediately sent a petition to the Independent National Electoral Commission disputing the result.

NAFDAC leadership

Since Akunyili took over leadership of NAFDAC, she has established as a top priority the eradication of counterfeit drugs and unsafe food. Before Akunyili assumed duty, Nigeria became a place where fake and substandard foods and drugs were being dumped without any form of regulations. She became angry because “so many of (her) countrymen and women (were) fighting killer diseases like malaria and tuberculosis with little more than sugar syrup and chalk tablets, cynically packaged to look like the real thing Although Akunyili has faced considerable risk to her personal safety in order to combat the issue of fake drugs, “She [has been] dancing with danger. And she [has been collecting] very visibly awards all over the world appearing with whomever has a smile to shareDr. (Mrs.) Dora Nkem Akunyili, who assumed office on the 12th of April 2001, as the Director General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), is a Pharmacist, Pharmacologist, Erudite Scholar, Seasoned Administrator, and a visionary leader. She was a Senior Lecturer and Consultant Pharmacologist in the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria Nsukka (U.N.N.), Enugu Campus, before she became the NAFDAC boss.

She was born in Makurdi, Benue State (Nigeria) on the 14th of July 1954, hails from Nanka and married in Agulu, both in Anambra State of Nigeria. Dr. Akunyili’s educational career started with her passing the First School Leaving Certificate with Distinction at St. Patrick’s Primary School, Isuofia, Anambra State in 1966, and the West African School Certificate (W.A.S.C.) with Grade I Distinction in 1973 from Queen of the Rosary Secondary School, Nsukka, both in Nigeria.

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 got her First Degree in Pharmacy B.Pharm (Hons) in 1978 and her PhD in 1985 from U.N.N. Dr. Akunyili was a Post Doctorate Fellow of University of London and a Fellow of the West African Post Graduate College of Pharmacists. To prepare her for Managerial positions, she was trained on Senior Management skills Course in RIPA, London and Computer Education Programme by WHO/UNDP/World Bank Sponsored, Enugu in 1998 and 1994 respectively. Dr. Akunyili has enjoyed many academic awards and recognitions.

Dr. Akunyili started her working career as a Hospital Pharmacist from 1978–1981, in the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (U.N.T.H) Enugu, after which she ventured into academics as a Graduate Assistant (Research Fellow) in Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, U.N.N. from 1982-1986. In the University system, she made a steady progress from Lecturer I in 1986 until she was made Senior Lecturer in 1990. She transferred to College of Medicine, U.N.N. in 1992, where she was made a Consultant Pharmacologist in 1996, a position she held until 12 April 2001. Due to her love for Teaching and nurturing young ones, she was also a part time lecturer of the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists Lagos, Nigeria from 1992-1995.

Dr. Mrs. Dora Akunyili was also prepared for the present Administrative position by her four years stint as Zonal Secretary of Petroleum Special Trust Fund (P.T.F.), coordinating all projects in the five South Eastern States of Nigeria (Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States).

She also served as a Supervisor for Agriculture and Member of the Caretaker Committee for her Local Government, Anaocha Local Government Area of Anambra State from 1994 to 1996. From 1992 to 1994, Dr. Akunyili served as a member of State’s Hospitals Management Board and State Advisory Council for Women Commission both in Anambra State of Nigeria.

As a Scientist and a Scholar, she has presented 19 papers in various local and International Scientific Conferences, and published a book and 18 Journal Articles. She has 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 still finds time to supervise six Postgraduate students in the College of Medicine U.N.N. She has also been Chief Examiner in Pharmacology for 3rd M.B.B.S College of Medicine, Abia State University Uturu, Nigeria.

Dr. Mrs. Dora Akunyili is also a very active member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (P.S.N.) where she has served in the following capacities:

P.S.N. Education Committee as Secretary from 1994–2000

Organizing Committee for Enugu State P.S.N. Annual Conference as Secretary 1995

Nigerian Association of Academic Pharmacists as National Asst. Sec. from 1990–1994

Association of Lady Pharmacists as National Vice-President from 1992–1995, National Ex-Officio Member 1995-2000 and President of Enugu State branch from 1992-1998.

She is a member of other learned societies among which are Nigerian Society for Pharmacology, West African Society for Pharmacology, International Union of Pharmacology and International Pharmaceutical Federation.

Dr. Akunyili held positions of responsibility in University of Nigeria Nsukka Senate in the following capacities:

Senate Careers Board Committee - Member 1986–1993

Board of Institute for Development Studies-Member 1986 - 1993

Senate Representative for Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences 1990 - 1992

Staff Welfare Committee for Academic Staff Union of Universities, Nigeria - Member 1991 - 1993

Investigation Committee on Alleged Examination Malpractice in Drama 202 Re: Ugwuja C., 86/49917 of Sub-Department Dramatic Arts, U.N.N. – Secretary 1991-1992.

Dr. Dora Akunyili’s high sense of responsibility led to her being made a member of the following Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences Committees (U.N.N.) from 1986-1992:

Medicinal Plant Committee

Examination Committee

Continuing Education Committee

Publications and Colloquial Committee

Committee on Specialization Courses for Pharmacists

Consultancy Management Board.

Dr. Akunyili is a devout Catholic and is happily married to Dr. J.C. Akunyili, of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, Nigeria and they have six children together.

Her hobby includes reading and writing.

Awards received

Some of the awards Prof. Akunyili has received are:

§  Time Magazine Award 2006( "One of the eighteen heroes of our time")- Time Magazine Inc.

§  Person of the Year 2005 Award - Silverbird Communications Ltd, Lagos, 05-01-2006

§  Award of Excellence - Integrated World Services (IWS), Dec. 2005

§  Award of Excellence - Advocacy for Democracy Dividends International, Lagos, 17-12-2005

§  Meritorious Award 2005 - St. Michael’s Military Catholic Church, Apapa, Lagos, 04-12-2005

§  African Virtuous and Entrepreneurial Women Merit Award 2005 - African Biographical Network, Dec. 2005

§  Award for the Best Government Parastatal - National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), December 2005

§  An Icon of Excellence Award - The African Cultural Institute and Zenith Bank Plc, 08-12-2005

§  2005 Grassroots Human Rights Campaigner Award London Based Human Rights Defense Organization. 08-12-2005

§  Most Innovative Director Award Federal Government College, Ijanikin, Lagos. Oct. 2005.

§  Integrity Award 2003 - Transparency International.




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