Adanna Ugwa – Nigeria

  • March 11, 2020 at 1:31 pm #2277
    Huong Nguyen

    Positive Example
    Dora Akunyili was a great woman who served in Nigeria as the director general of National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) between 2001-2008 where she accounted for many remarkable successes. She was one who introduced a concept and culture of excellence and honesty and as a result, the level of fake and counterfeit drugs in circulation dropped considerably. Dora Akunyili was also the Minister of Information and Communication between 2008- 2010 where she initiated and headed the Re-branding Nigeria Project, and through her life time had the very best number of awards received by any Nigerian living or dead. She passed on in 2014 after a long battle with cancer. (Vanguard, 2017)
    Mission is the solid expression of your vision and values which becomes your personal constitution and as such becomes the criterion by which you measure everything else in your life.
    Dora Akunyili served as director general of National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) from 2001-2008 where she achieved immense successes. In the past, Nigeria was a dumping ground for fake and illegal drugs and food. It was also a hub of production of these fake items. The painkillers, malaria drugs, basic food items and even the sodas we drank could not be trusted. She had a mission to clean up the food and drug sector in Nigeria. A mission she accomplished with every bone in her body.

    Passion is one in all those words that we frequently use without really understanding the initial meaning of the word. When people say “passion”, they use it to mean strong emotions reflecting an intense desire or boundless enthusiasm. As a Christian and in this season of Lent, with Christ being my example, my perspective on passion has been upgraded. I no longer use it to describe something that I feel strongly about or that excites me. I can now describe it as an activity, goal or cause that I care about so much, I am willing to go through pains or suffer for it. This new standard makes it easier to discern whether something is really my passion or just a robust interest. It is no news that in Nigeria today, where you end up working has no correlation with what you studied at the university. People get jobs to pay bills and would do jobs they’re not really passionate about. Too many public servants are mismatched to their jobs. Looking at Dora Akunyili’s educational background, she obtained her first degree in Pharmacology and got her Ph.D. from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Dora Akunyili was a post graduate fellow of University of London and a fellow of the West African Post Graduate College of Pharmacists. She was also a fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, member of the New York Academy of Science, International Narcotics Control Board, United States Pharmacopeia Expert Committee amongst many others (Vanguard, 2017). With all these achievements tied to her name, it is no surprise the amount of passion and dedication she put into her job. In her fight against drug counterfeiting, which Akunyili likened to “public health terrorism”, she faced threats, intimidation, and worse, including a 2003 attack in which an assassin’s bullet narrowly missed her skull, scorching her headscarf. NAFDAC facilities had been torched and vandalized on many occasions, and Akunyili had ten policemen with her around the clock. Most importantly, Akunyili also had a personal stake in fighting drug counterfeiting as her sister, a diabetic, died aged 21 years after taking fake insulin.

    I believe that visionary leaders are successful builders of optimistic and inspirational visions of the future and they pass that vision in an attractive manner that entices committed followers. They are imaginative workers, insightful and confident. It is safe to call them creators of a new dawn. Visionary leaders are risk takers, great listeners and take responsibility for their actions and vision. Vision shows us where we are headed and Nigeria was on its way to freedom from counterfeit drugs.
    For Dora Akuyili, everything she found herself doing was more than the ROLE, but about the GOAL to achieve (Nation, 2016). Dora Akunyili fearlessly battled the greed and ignorance that had allowed drug counterfeiting to thrive in Nigeria. Since she became head of the National Agency of Food and Drug Administration (NAFDAC) in 2001, the proportion of drugs sold in Nigeria that are fake dropped from 70% to about 10%

    Ethics serve as guidelines for analysing “what is good or bad” in a specific situation as it refers to the desirable and appropriate values and morals according to an individual or the society at large. It involves the purity of individuals and their intentions. An ethical leader is one who is humane and places his follower’s interests ahead of his interests. As an ethical leader, it is important to recollect that actions often speak louder than words and people are more likely to evaluate someone based on how they act, instead of what they are saying. Akunyili stressed the importance of never compromising one’s ideals and selling out to the very people who should be behind bars, she further laid emphasis on the importance of dedicated and honest leadership in the success of any effective institutional reform. while she worked as chief executive of the South East Zone for the Petroleum Special Trust Fund. She had been sent to London for surgery to treat a pancreatic problem, and given £12,000 for medical costs. The physicians found she didn’t need surgery, and Akunyili returned the money. A very rare gesture amongst many public servants today. Her strategies were so effective that Nigerians even surrendered substandard products to NAFDAC for destruction-on their own. The fear of NAFDAC was the beginning of wisdom. (Harding, 2006)

    Compassion to me is the willingness and desire to be kind to others. It means being thoughtful and aware of what others’ lives and experiences are like. Once upon a time, compassion was viewed as weakness. Those days are long gone. There is also a thin line between practicing compassion and enabling bad behavior. Leaders, today are expected to treat their people with a greater sense of care and humanity and to respect the diverse, unique attributes and qualities each person brings to the team and organization. Therefore, one can say there is a subtle and crucial difference between practicing compassion and enabling bad behavior.
    Akunyili did not immediately confront Nigeria’s bribery-ridden pharmaceuticals industry, instead she headed a campaign to raise the quality of “pure water,” bagged drinking water sold to poorer Nigerians at lower cost than bottled water which raised NAFDAC’s profile. Akunyili implemented a registration system and spread the word through a national system of workshops for producers and consumers. Today, everyone is now aware and checks the NAFDAC number on their water. Furthermore, the incidence of cholera in Nigeria, a disease frequently caused by contaminated water, dropped dramatically.

    Equality and Respect
    Generally, equality in the workplace means that no person should experience or fear discrimination based on their gender, sex, age, race, etc. The Nigerian Constitution provides for equal rights, so from a policy point of view, there is no discrimination. However, the glass ceiling, that invisible barrier to advancement that women face at the top levels of the workplace, remains a big problem and a challenge to society.

    Dora was a woman from the Igbo Ethnic group of Nigeria and had little experience with a dangerous job filled with opportunities to accept bribe and blood money. She had a job many men were scared to tread this path. It is noteworthy that many of Akunyili’s inspectors were women, for she felt that “they were less corruptible than men”

    Good Government/Management
    Good leaders need management skills to be effective. Dora Akunyili knew the importance of public education and used that to her advantage. She started the fight with “pure water”, the drink of Nigeria’s poor and middle-class population, sold in polyethylene bags at a fraction of the cost of bottled water. The NAFDAC held meetings for producers on how to make the water safely, developed a registration system, and instructed people on how to recognise safe water. Everyone is now aware of checking the NAFDAC number on their water. One of the most interesting things she did was raise awareness on the harmful effects of fake drugs through adverts made as catchy songs. I remember constantly singing it when I was younger. I even wrote out all of the lyrics and it was one of my best TV adverts. That was how much the song impacted me, and I believe many others out there.
    In an interview, she said that, if we listen to people who say Nigerians are criminals, they are fraudsters, they are 419ers, in that country nothing works, in the internet Nigeria is unsafe, if we say nothing, it means that we have accepted it. And for too long we have accepted that stigma. Thus, on March 17, 2009, she joined President Goodluck Jonathan to launch a national campaign and unveiling of the slogan and logo in Abuja. According to her, the campaign was beyond logo and slogan which were meant to serve as drivers. According to Dora, our hope is that the slogan, Nigeria – Good People, Great Nation, will help to inspire patriotism in us all as we collectively tackle the challenges ahead. (Akunyili, 2009)
    Personal Presentation
    As a leader, personal presentation is all about “your selling point”. How do you market YOU? Personal presentation is all about the way you dress, speak, body language, the subjects you speak about, how you want to be perceived and the first impression you want to make when you make contact with people. Good personal presentation requires self-esteem and confidence and it is all about showing yourself in the best possible light.
    Dora Akuyili acted without fear of anybody. She had no intention to be a sycophant or a yes-man or woman in her case. She had a no-nonsense personality which earned her the nickname “Iron Lady”. Unlike our current stomach infrastructure public office holders, whose entire public work has little credit for the good of the general public, She was an outstanding Nigerian whose records of excellent public service will for long be remembered.She was never hunted by anti-graft agencies, neither was she accused by any segment of the country for being politically, religiously or even tribally biased. She targeted the general wellness of Nigerians and did not lead a flamboyant lifestyle nor did she render eye service. It was always Nigeria first for Akunyili and her virtues as a leader was and still are worthy of emulation for every public office holder in Nigeria, Africa and the entire world. some other parts of the world, put People like her on stamps and on statues at different public places where the younger generations, can visit to be encouraged to lead selfless lifestyles. She was a life saver and she instituted a system that is still saving lives. She was always seen wearing African prints and had good sense of style. Dora Akuyili was a leader per excellence.

    Team Building
    Dora Akunyili was a team player and the manager who carried her subordinates along. She gave them a sense of belonging and a reason to fight for the future of their generation. The battle against counterfeit drugs knew no religion or tribalism. It was a case of “fight it or we all die” as anyone could fall victim to the pernicious effects of these drugs. she also gave them their own tasks to perform and followed them up with supervision. She motivated her staff through her hard work and drive as they saw a leader who was fearless and ready to do the dirty work first. she built a formidable team and they significantly reduced the problems of drug and food control that had had significant repercussions in Nigeria.

    Measurable Accomplishments
    The Nigerian pharmaceutical industry enjoyed growth and prosperity during her reign; the incidence of fake drugs fell to 20% in 2004 and 10% in 2006; the level of unregistered drugs declined from 68% in 2001 to19 % in 2006 loaves of bread with potassium bromate nose-dived from 95% to 1% (Udodiong, 2019)
    Sachets of pure water became relatively safer; Nigeria was no longer a heaven for expired or substandard drugs while Nigerian drugs became accepted in our neighbouring countries. Paradoxically, regulatory officials from those countries that banned our drugs came to learn from NAFDAC/Nigeria while NAFDAC formed and led the West African Drug Regulatory Agency
    She received up to 200 awards locally and globally; including the Integrity Award by Transparency International in 2004, a year when TI rated Nigeria the 2nd most corrupt country in the world; Special Award For Combating Economic Crimes by the Intl Chamber of Commerce, Commercial Crime Service, London, 2004; Pharmacist of The Year Medal Award by the Intl Pharmaceutical Federation[FIP], 2005; and Honorary Doctor of Law Degree by the University of Bristol, London, 2006.
    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, December 8, 2005.
    2005 Grassroots Human Rights Campaigner Award London-based Human Rights Defence Organization, December 8, 2005.
    Most Innovative Director Award Federal Government College, Ijanikin, Lagos, October 2005. These and many more were her long list of accolades. (Udodiong, 2019)

    Negative Example
    Sani Abacha was a General of the Nigerian army, who later also decided to become a political candidate. He was ruling Nigeria as a “de facto” President, and his regime lasted for five years – ranging from 1993 and ending in 1998 when he suddenly passed on to the great beyond. There are definitely lots of things to mention about Gen Sani Abacha and also the years of his ruling. Some people think that he contributed to the event of Nigeria, while others disagree with his dictatorship political regime and decisions.
    General Sani Abacha had a mission to take over power through any means possible. He became Nigeria’s Head of States from November 17, 1993, to June 8, 1998, as a result of the November 1993 coup. He rose through the ranks in the Nigerian military and by 1983 had achieved the rank of brigadier when he assisted Ibrahim Babangida in overthrowing Shehu Shagari, who had been elected to his second presidential term in 1983. Elections were held in 1993 and were won by Moshood Abiola, a candidate supposedly supported by Babangida, who, however, annulled the elections and set up a civilian interim government, which Abacha quickly overthrew.
    He was driven by lust for power. He wanted it all to himself and his family and that be seen in the way he embezzled national funds and stashed in foreign accounts for his family.
    Abacha consolidated his one-man rule, that was subsequently based on endless repression of the opposition, bribery and corruption of opposition newspapers, etc. In this respect countless numbers of individuals were thrown into jail; many were assassinated by agents of the regime as later confessions, after Abacha’s death, by some of his past agents have revealed.
    He allegedly stole about 5 billion pounds from national funds. The 2004 rating showed that Sani Abacha was the fourth most corrupt country leader in the history of the world (Odusanya, 2019). According to the claims, the central role in all the money looting and transferring overseas was allegedly played by individuals in his government and some family members. In March 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that about $458 billion which were supposedly illegally received by corrupt officials, including Sani Abacha were frozen. 22 years after his death, the county still talks about the funds looted by Abacha as the United States is set to release about 308 million dollars looted by Abacha. One would say “he sends the nation pocket money even in death”

    Abacha’s death was widely celebrated in Nigeria and beyond. This was due mainly to the fact that his five-year reign represented a period of unprecedented brutal and dictatorial rule in Nigeria, characterized by numerous cases of assassinations, incarcerations, proscription of trade unions and other mass organizations, and closure of opposition newspaper houses among other acts of repression.
    Equality and Respect
    He wasn’t one to respect human rights. He was a frontrunner that acquired the reputation of being a bloodthirsty dictator who had no respect for human rights. As for the civil society, Abacha had no time to concentrate on its arguments, as all he was concerned with was a way to remain in power irrespective of the odds against him. It absolutely was no wonder then that there was political instability during his regime as numerous ethnic groups emerged to terrorize the state, state insecurity and heist, assassinations, unexplained murders and other deviant acts pervaded the land.
    Good Government/Management.
    His death was certainly a giant relief to the repressed Nigerian Populace. The primary one was about his government abusing human rights. The proof was the brutal hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa. Similarly, he executed several others from Ogoni for opposing the exploitation of natural resources (Crude Oil) that damaged their environment. Furthermore, some politicians like Olusegun Obasanjo and Moshood Abiola were imprisoned with the accusations of treason, and also the laureate winner Wole Soyinka was given death sentence in absentia, causing him to remain in exile till 1999. Abacha promised Nigerians a return to democracy, but his actions were anything but democratic as he succeeded in forcefully conniving with the country’s five parties to endorse him as their presidential candidate, that was when it became clear that the election would have no element of fairness. He went further to ban political activities of any kind, fired a large portion of the military, controlled the press, and assembled a personal security force of about 3,000 men. Abacha’s sudden death in June 1998 facilitated the quick process of returning the country to civilian rule.
    Personal Presentation
    He had a very strict personality and carried himself with so much confidence amidst all the corruption under his regime. The name General Sani Abacha sent chills down the body as people were scared to speak bad of him for fear of being assassinated or severely punished.
    Team Building
    Here lies the explanation of Abacha’s desperate hold on to power. No dictator leaves power voluntarily, except when faced with an opposition mass action or the threat of one (Ogunde, 2005). This flows from the fact the man and his cohorts started to imagine what terrible things could occur to them after leaving power. Hence, they were willing to do anything to stay in power and as the saying goes: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. He built a power thirsty team who sometimes carried their own personal vendetta in his name. there was no supervision from Abacha’s part on these types of issues because nobody dared to question his right-hand men.
    Measurable Accomplishments
    As the “most successful coup plotter” in the history of Nigeria’s military, Gen. Abacha’s military career was characterized by a string of successful coups. At the age of 23, Abacha then a 2nd Lieutenant with the 3rd Battalion in Kaduna, took part in the July 1966 Nigerian counter-coup from the conceptual stage. He was also involved in the orchestration of the 1983 coup d’etat that brought Gen. Muhammadu Buhari to power, since he was more than prominent. He later partook in the coup that ousted the same Gen. Buhari in August 1985. And because of how successful the coup was, Abacha was named Chief of Army Staff; as General Ibrahim Babangida became the head of states and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

    Akunyili, D. (2009, July 27). Interview: Dora Akunyili, Nigeria’s minister of information and communications. (T. Iyare, Interviewer) Retrieved from
    Harding, A. (2006, May 6). Dora Akunyili: scourge of Nigerian drug counterfeiters. Retrieved from The Lancet:
    Nation, T. (2016, June 7). Dora Akunyili – Exceptional leader worth remembering. Retrieved from The Nation:
    Odusanya, R. (2019). Sani Abacha’s Biography: Life story, Political career, controversies and personal life. Retrieved from Legit:
    Ogunde, O. (2005, August 30). Nigeria: Abacha bonapartism – five years on. Retrieved from Marxist:
    Udodiong, I. (2019, November 3). Everything you need to know about Dora Akunyili, the ‘iron lady’ with almost 1000 awards. Retrieved from Business Insider by Pulse:
    Vanguard. (2017, June 8). PROFILE: Late Prof Dora Akunyili. Retrieved from Vanguard Nigeria:

    Writing my eulogy is something I never imagined but here I am, telling you all gathered here on my behalf how to behave since I have been called to meet my Father above.
    Kobe and Giana Bryant; I write this thinking of how greatly their deaths impacted me. The deep sense of sadness I felt knowing that these angels were called to glory. I didn’t even think to ask God Why, but I tried to ask How?
    Kobe wanted to be remembered for the impact he made on society. One of my favorite quotes of his says “it’s the one thing you can control. You are responsible for how people remember you- or don’t. So, don’t take it lightly.”
    Oh death, where is your sting? Is this all you could do? Make my family and loved ones become candidates for good cry memes?
    Whoever that is reading this speech should do it with a lot of swag. I know you’ll be crying and all but, I will always be in your heart.
    I want to be remembered for being full of life. I want to be remembered for my love for people and a clean environment. I want to be remembered for not enjoying sitting long hours to make my hair so please make this event brief.
    I want to be remembered for the smiles I put on your faces. Most importantly, don’t give up. Death hasn’t won because I will be back with a new body. I am ADANNA which means “The first daughter of the father” so fear not, I am in a safe place. And now, my watch has ended.
    P.S: how do I send you all the selfie of my new body though?

    The group was diverse with people from different countries and different backgrounds. While we discussed about the leaders that made positive or negative impacts, it is safe to say that the phrase “we are the leaders of tomorrow” is a scam!
    Tomorrow is now and it’s here. But unfortunately, the people who told us these things continue to rule with their ancient methods and continue to silences our voices. Many of the leaders discussed did great things at very young ages and achieved great feats in their careers as well. It was an interactive session even though we faced challenges of time difference.

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