The former Director General of the National Agency For Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) Professor Dora Akunyili has died.
The 59 year old reportedly passed away today at the Hospital in India where she had been flown to receive treatment after her health deteriorated.
Professor Akunyili had been suffering from an undisclosed illness before her death and the usually agile beacon of strength looked physically emaciated at a recent appearance during the on going National Conference where she was a delegate.
After months of little public appearances, Akunyili’s appearance sparked a media frenzy with speculation on the actual nature of the illness.
Professor Akunyili is well known in Nigeria for her courageous fight against counterfeit drugs and medicine in the Nigerian market. She made a name for herself as one of the luminaries of the Obasanjo Administration with her integrity and uncompromising attitude.
Before her appointment at NAFDAC, Nigeria had become a dumping ground for fake drugs and illegal medicines, a decision that gathered her a few enemies with threats against her life and a failed assassination attempt.
Akunyili made it her mission to clean up the country’s pharmaceutical sector, ensuring that only drugs that were legally manufactured and quality controlled made it to consumers.
Her fight against counterfeit drugs earned her international awards and recognition and she is widely described as one of the most inspirational women in the Nigerian Political scene.
Since the news broke of her death on Saturday, Tributes have been pouring in from top government officials including the Nigerian President who called her a ‘distinguished citizen and Patriot’ and extending his ondolences to her family.
Governor Muazu Aliyu of Niger state also ermarked that the death of Professor Akunyili was a blow to the nation and that she was a patriotic leader for change.
“Professor Dora Akunyili was a leading example of a ‘patriotic leader for change.’
“She believed in the Nigerian project and continued to champion her belief even till death,” He said.
“We will continue to respect her courage which she expressed in good health and in sickness. She was indeed a symbol of hope for women in government, a symbol of hope for a better Nigeria as hope is not completely lost as we still have Nigerians who can offer themselves to true service.”
Professor Akunyili’s most recent appointment was as Minister for Information during President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s administration.
Professor Dora Akunyili was born in 1954. She was 59.