As Director-General of the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof Dora Akunyili captured the admiration and great respect of most Nigerians due to her selfless, determined and very successful battle against fake and substandard drugs and their vile merchants, who, in their most ungodly desperation to make huge profits, succeeded so well in dispatching not a few Nigerians to their early graves. Everybody loved her, sang her praises, wished her well, and prayed for her, except, perhaps, the murderous fake drugs manufacturers and distributors, who saw her as the unshakable obstacle to their most devilish trade. So solid and widespread were her popularity and acceptance that some people began to urge her to run for presidency.
Akunyili was regularly celebrated in this column. In my most recent piece on her entitled, “The Meaning of Dora Akunyili,” I said: Each time you confidently purchase a drug, fruit juice or any other consumable and go away with full assurance that your liver would still be intact after you have taken it, you should not fail to remember Akunyili and be grateful to God for her life. Akunyili means the return of sanity in a society overrun and made unsafe by heartless counterfeiters; she means the safeguarding of many lives which would have since been lost because some devilish souls were looking for blood money… Akunyili could simply have accepted the blood-stained billions [the fake drugs merchants] were all too willing to give her and allowed them to unleash their lethal products on all of us, but she chose to safeguard lives. And by that decision, she may have saved you, your beloved mother, father, wife, uncle, precious, tender children and friends.
Indeed, only one reason may have informed Akunyili’s appointment. The Yar’Adua regime only wanted to exploit the enormous admiration and goodwill she enjoyed from Nigerians to shore up its badly battered image. But by accepting to serve as Information Minister in a regime like Yar’Adua’s which by the very nature of its constitution represents a huge lie built and sustained on a foundation of undiluted, poorly, unintelligently concocted lies, Akunyili is, no doubt, overdrawing from the public trust, admiration and goodwill that had overwhelmingly flooded her the moment she began to excel as NAFDAC boss. It even looks like Akunyili herself is already catching the lying bug, going by the brazenness with which she made the outrageous and overly obscene claim last week that her appointment was divine.
Now, because I still love and respect Akunyili, my sincere question to her today is: My dearly beloved sister, are you very sure this is really what you want to do? Is it really worth it? What value would your job as the image-maker of a critically unfocused and purposeless regime add to
Well, to be fair, I can appreciate Akunyili’s dilemma. We run a very lousy system where ministerial nominees are usually not informed before hand of the particular portfolio that would be assigned to them. Akunyili, no doubt, could not have imagined that Yar’Adua would eventually saddle her with such a messy job of bearing the horribly cracked Chief Megaphone of this failed and ugly regime. Like many Nigerians, she may have thought she would be sent to the health sector where her competences would be deployed to the benefit of Nigerians. But, as we all know, the well-being of Nigerians is hardly the concern of this regime, which is so sad. It is not too late in the day for Akunyili to sit down and quietly count the very high cost of this misadventure. And one thing she should not lose sight of is that after sometime, when she would have become irredeemably odious to Nigerians and her voice very loathsome to everyone as result of continuously doing the dirty of job of marketing this hard-sell called the Yar’Adua regime, she would be unceremoniously dumped to quietly nurse her deep credibility wounds alone while the regime would move on with another willing sacrificial lamb. And that is why I ask Akunyili again: Are you really sure you want to do this? Never allow anyone intimidate you with the lie that you have fait accompli before you. You certainly don’t! So, no matter the blackmail they may dredge up (due to some entanglements they may have arranged before now to entrap you), follow your heart, go ahead and call Yar’Adua’s bluff and bolt way. That’s your Hobson’s choice.