Honesty is a virtue that is very scarce in today’s Nigeria. Despite that, some individuals have chosen to stand out among the populace and the result is that honesty pays. One of such persons is Professor Dora Akunyili who was an acclaimed Pharmacist, an erudite scholar and a technocrat.
She grew up like most children, excelled in schools and worked at local and national levels
When Dora was Zonal Secretary of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), a special trust fund that is given a percentage of Nigeria’s oil revenue to be used in providing infrastructural facilities for the entire country, she had a medical ailment and was asked to go to Britain for surgical treatment. She was given 17,000 pounds: 12,000 for surgery, 5,000 pounds for treatment, tests and others. In the end, it was found that the surgery would not be necessary. The hospital refunded 12,000 pounds because they considered the surgery unnecessary.
When Dora got back home, she wrote and refunded the unspent 12000 pounds meant for the surgery to the head of PTF, the organisation that sponsored the treatment. People were surprised that she returned the money to her employer because others before her kept whatever was outstanding.
General Muhammadu Buhari, who was a former Nigerian head of state, was chief executive of PTF, commented on her letter: “I did not know there were still some Nigerians with integrity.” She paid the money into the organisation’s account. People wondered why she had to make the refund. No office holder has ever done such before.
In 2001, President Olusegun Obasanjo who had just been elected Nigeria’s President was disturbed by the level of drug counterfeiting in the country and wanted someone untainted; to head the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control ( NAFDAC), the regulatory agency in charge of the prevention of drug counterfeiting and sales of expired drugs which has led to the death of many.
NAFDAC was not performing because the drug barons were just buying their way through and impunity was the order of the day.
Obasanjo got wind of Dora’s story from someone who knew Buhari. Weeks later, President Obasanjo personally called her on the phone, “I am Obasanjo…” Initially, she felt it was somebody playing pranks until she was convinced that it was His Excellency himself. She recognized the voice as being the one she has heard on the radio and TV before. President Obasanjo invited her for discussions praising her integrity and urged her to head the NAFDAC because she was a pharmacist.
Her name was presented to the legislatures for approval to Head NAFDAC. Dora’s nomination met with some stiff opposition from people on account of ethnic background; which sounded cogent because political appointments were spread over ethnic and regional considerations in Nigeria; the Minister of Health was also from the same ethnic group as Dora Akunyili. Others also opposed her nomination because of her gender; the argument was that she will not be able to handle the agency. President Obasanjo was dogged in his choice of Dora and she was made the Director General of NAFDAC.
She performed excellently well in that capacity even at the risk of her life. She won accolades from within and beyond the shores of Nigeria for her tenacity and achievements at sanitizing the agency and restoring the glory of Nigeria’s pharmaceutical industries.
Gains made in dishonest manners are short-lived. In all situations, it is good, to be honest.
Given the same situation Dora found herself in when she was at PTF, would you have returned the money when everyone else would have taken it?
Let us hear from you in the comment section below.
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