By Ugochukwu Anieto
December 23rd, 2008
The much talked about cabinet reshuffle in the largely docile administration of Musa Yar’dua has come and gone. All fears over who losses his position or who keeps what have gone. It is still bad news for Nigerians and all lovers of the truth that Dora Akunyili has been made the minister for information.
I have no doubt in my mind that neither Musa Yar’dua nor Goodluck Jonathan is in any way the captain of the capsizing ship Nigeria. To this day, I cannot say who calls the shots or whence the person can be found. Decision making is an obvious indication that Nigeria is still under the evil reins of little brained or simply mischievous cabal. If this is not the case, then why should Dora Akunyili be made the Minister for Information? Dora took over NAFDAC, an agency saddled with the responsibility of enforcing good standards of food and drugs in Nigeria, an organization comparable to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US. An organization pivotal to the wellbeing of millions of helpless Nigerians who cannot afford the cost of quality medical care beyond the shores of Nigeria. As at today, Nigerians can with some measure of confidence buy drugs from local pharmacies, courtesy of the several crack down on fake drug dealers by the Akunyili led NAFDAC. Akunyili attracted honour to Nigeria while she served as the head of NAFDAC as hundreds of associations honoured her in recognition of her fight against corruption. NAFDAC existed merely in name prior to Dora’s entry. People imported fake and adulterated food and drugs into Nigeria with impunity, poor Nigerians lost their lives to this wickedness comparable only to the current attitude of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. Law and order started trickling back to the health sector courtesy of Dora; emergency millionaires who collaborated with disgruntled foreign partners to make Nigeria a dumping ground for adulterated products started disappearing. Nigeria’s image as a nation that truly cares for the wellbeing of its citizens improved as the drug battle continued with Dora at the helm of affairs. She survived an assassination attempt in her own hometown, withered the storm of sabotage when the same disgruntled people set NAFDAC facilities ablaze all to kill the fight against the monumental corruption. It was at the height of the drug war that young Nigerians who had cardiac problems where operated upon at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Enugu under the benevolence of Kanu Heart Foundation, some of these innocent ones lost their lives to the meanness of our drug merchants. The drug meant to kick start the heart after the operation failed to do its work simply because it was substandard. It could have been worse if not for the diligent campaign by NAFDAC against fake drugs. Till today, not withstanding the misuse to which Olusegun Obasanjo subjected Dora to, by employing her in several of the numerous "campaigns" for this incumbent administration, Dora still represents the face of the "new Nigerians" who are incidentally few. Dora fought the good fight in NAFDAC and so deserves our collective praise.
Making Dora, Nigeria’s minister for information is a clear indication that her efforts are not fully appreciated by this government of which Yar’dua is the imaginary head as he holds no real opinion of his own in the affairs of this greatly endangered nation. Why Dora should be given a job as the chief spinner of a government by deception whose foundation is entrenched in rigging beats my imagination. It shows that it takes nothing more than common sense to actually lead a nation; unfortunately the same common sense does not appear common in this case. I am certain that kindergarteners would make a better decision on what portfolio should be appropriate for Dora. It took all the deep thinkers in the economic think-tank of Yar’dua to appoint Dora the minister for information- shame! If Dora becomes minister for information, then what should the likes of Dele Sobowale be made? Minister for solid minerals I suppose. Nigeria cannot survive when we downplay important issues, choosing to politicize it rather than follow a formidable pathway that would ensure productivity. Dora Akunyili succeeded as the Director-General of NAFDAC, an agency under the ministry of health I presume; conventional wisdom dictates that Dora should have been made the minister of health to ensure the much needed improvement within our moribund health system, since NAFDAC is all about health why would she not assume the role in the same ministry where disgruntled Nigerians shared "excess budgetary allocation" under the watchful eyes of Iyabo Obasanjo (aka Mrs Akinlawon). Dora may see this as an honour but to me it is the height of irresponsibility by this government, Way back in 2006 Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had to practically walk out on the government of Olusegun Obasanjo for the same reason of deploying her from her domain in finance to external affairs. Though this was not cited as her reason for resignation, we know the economics guru had better jobs to do at the World Bank than to continue hanging around the rudderless government of that time. Akunyili stands a better chance to go back to the University of Nigeria where she has a respectable position of Professor of Pharmacology than to do this dead end job that would likely turn her into a compulsive liar. It was the same position occupied by the likes of Mr. Nweke (jnr).
I have a deep and abiding reverence for Professor Akunyili but it is now time for her to bow out, now that the ovation is loudest. Where this government cannot give her the right portfolio, I suggest she should look at the global opportunities that fit her ranks or better still go back to her first love, the classroom. It is only mischief that would warrant that she be made the information minister. She is gainfully employed and so does not need to hang around Aso rock for survival. I reiterate that Yar’dua is not in charge of the affairs in this country, the way he is handling the Nuhu Ribadu case is yet another pointer to this fact but this is a topic for another day. I lay no claim to Solomonic wisdom.
Newcastle Upon Tyne