“The full meaning of NAFDAC is National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control,” Uncle Victor, our primary four class teacher said with an air of sophistication. We were overwhelmed by his intelligence. How could he know that kind of long acronym?
Every child who watched television had an idea of the organisation called NAFDAC. whether you saw them as policemen, arresting criminals or as people who just liked to burn bad stuff, you knew NAFDAC. My dad used to randomly ask me the meaning of this acronym, so I had to memorize it. I memorized the meaning, and the face behind the organization that shook Nigeria, Professor Dora Akunyili.
I didn’t want to be a professor when I grew up, or the director of NAFDAC. No. I wanted to be a newscaster like Aisha Bello-Mustapha and late Ekaette Okon, but I wanted to be Dora Akunyili. I didn’t want her portfolio, I just wanted to be her. Her strong, powerful, no-nonsense, visionary person. She, who slayed dragons and made the pits of hell tremble.
Prof Akunyili was the dream. We cited her in the importance of female education debates. Her and no one else. Maybe because I was a small town girl, I didn’t know a lot of female game-changers back then, but she was enough reason to want to pass exams.
Prof Akunyili made it easy to dream. I don’t know if she ever fought for women’s rights. She just made it all so normal. It was normal for a woman to be so badass and intelligent and powerful and successful. It was real. It didn’t appear difficult or impossible for women to be great because she was. Her name was pure inspiration.
So as we celebrate women all over the world, remember Prof Dora Akunyili and be bold. Be bold for change!