Announcer: Since we broadcast the first part of our interview with Prof. Dora Akunyili, the bottom of our show, Tonight Show with Dr. Damages, has fallen through. We have been threatened by friends. We have been embraced by enemies. It was, however, the ridicule we suffered in the hands of those who were indifferent that really touched us. They said that we jumped the shark. Waking up the indifferent is an accomplishment we are most proud of.
Someone even sent the Nigerian Navy Seals to come and get us. We did not wait for the arrival of the Seals on tokumbo warships picked up from the U.S. Salvation Army. Our host, Dr. Damages, quickly relocated from his hilltop mansion in the Hamptons to a highrise in Brooklyn where his home boys take turns to keep vigil for any silent chopper in the sky above the Statue of Liberty.
In our 20 years of producing this show, last week has been our longest week.
Just as we were about to come on air, our executive producer informed us that all our sponsors had dropped us. Though our broadcast network is willing to keep the show on the air without commercials, we know it will be hard to provide our guests with their peppermint; our writers their coffee; and our stage hands their meat pies.
We’re, therefore, sad to report that we have suspended further productions of this show. The reason is not because we have capitulated to the establishment. No. Far from it. The real reason is that our host has decided to apply for the position that just opened up at the IMF. He is the only one who can stop Olusegun Obasanjo from getting that position.
So, as it turns out, this second part of our interview with Dora Akunyili is our final show.
In months to come, we shall revamp the show under a new host.
This final show has been heavily edited to take out scandalous details. We hope it appeases the sensibilities of our friends and enemies alike. Please enjoy the show. Thank you for being a faithful viewer of our show all these years. We’re very grateful… and now your host, Dr. Njakiri Damages.
Dr. Damages: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Let us start from the very beginning. Who’s Dora Akunyili?
Dora Akunyili: Well, my brother, in my humble opinion, I’m one of the hardest-working women in the world. Don’t forget that I’m saying this with all humility. I am a woman trying to make her way in our complex world.
Dr. Damages: Hard working and brilliant?
Dora Akunyili: Well, everybody who has met me says that I’m brilliant – in fact, a genius. I accept their judgment with all humility. It’s God who gave me brilliance (she raises her rosary). But I just don’t just go about saying that I’m brilliant because I don’t want to upset those who made First Class. I did not make First Class.
Dr. Damages: Are you talking about people like Charles Soludo?
Dora Akunyili: (Frowns) Don’t even mention that name in my presence. Unless you want me to throw up on this stage.
Dr. Damages: Why? He’s married to your late sister’s daughter.
Dora Akunyili: Please, let us discuss something important. Anything else will do. He made first class, but does anybody describe him as brilliant the way they describe me? Look, even if I made third class, I would still be better than that one. Do you know that I was close to being the second Nigerian to receive the Nobel Prize? Where was Soludo? That stupid man- enemy of peace.
Dr. Damages: That’s pretty heavy claim – about the Nobel Prize and all. But we’ll get to that later. You seem connected one way or another to many players in Nigerian politics.
Dora Akunyili: I keep up with my network.
Dr. Damages: More like oil it.
Dora Akunyili: Nothing wrong with that.
Dr. Damages: You’re right about that. So how are you connected to Chris Ngige?
Dora Akunyili: I ran against him in the 2011 Anambra Central senatorial election.
Dr. Damages: I know that. Tell me something I do not know.
Dora Akunyili: What do you want to know?
Dr. Damages: Did you know the man before he became your opponent in that election?
Dora Akunyili: He once stole the mandate of Anambra state people in 2003. He became the governor of my state, so I knew him. He was governor when some assassins conspired to kill me because of my work at NAFDAC. They shot at me, but my God was awake.
Dr. Damages: Yes. That incident really solidified your reputation.
Dora Akunyili: It did? I was very lucky. The God I serve said that it wasn’t my time. Those guys really wanted to end my life.
Dr. Damages: Where are they now?
Dora Akunyili: Who?
Dr. Damages: The alleged assailants?
Dora Akunyili: You call them alleged? They were guilty!
Dr. Damages: But were they not freed for lack of evidence?
Dora Akunyili: Don’t mind the judges! Sometimes they’re confused. But as a woman who doesn’t know what it means to tell a lie, I can assure you that the two men were – they are – guilty as I charged.
Dr. Damages: But the policemen around you said nobody ever shot at you. They did not see any gun. Even former Inspector General Tafa Balogun found holes in your story. They thought you made it all up as a publicity stunt.
Dora Akunyili: That’s why God punished Tafa Balogun. How can I, Professor Dora Akunyili, tell him a story and he thinks there are holes in it? Listen, the Swedish people nearly gave me a Nobel Peace Prize because of my extraordinary courage before and after I was shot at. Why would I make up a story like that? A smart woman like me cannot reduce myself to that level. I never wanted publicity for my work to begin with.
Dr. Damages: So it wasn’t a media stunt? It wasn’t part of your scheme to attract a Nobel Prize?
Dora Akunyili: Oh, please. That’s what my devil-inspired enemies say. Some of them also lied that I made up the story to persuade Baba to give me a huge security vote.
Dr. Damages: But I understand that President Obasanjo – Baba – gave you a huge security vote after that alleged shooting incident?
Dora Akunyili: Alleged? Don’t annoy me oh! As for the security vote, Baba was going to approve it anyway. It had nothing to do with the attempted assassination. Look, the police were hopeless. You know Nigerian police and their inefficiency. That was why Baba handed the case over to the SSS. The two men who wanted me dead, Maxwell Nnakwe and Frank Okoye, were kingpins of fake drugs. That’s all I know.
Dr. Damages: But our research department found out that Frank Okoye, who’s from Ukpor in Dunukofia LGA, was an informant to NAFDAC – helping the agency to unmask merchants of fake drugs. How did you end up naming your informant a suspect in an assassination attempt?
Dora Akunyili: My brother, don’t believe everything you hear. The fact that he was an informant does not mean he didn’t succumb to a temptation to be used by the devil to finish me off. Some of my best friends are agents of the devil as well. My enemies are many. They stretch from my police orderlies who refused to hear gunshots through Tafa Balogun to some officers within NAFDAC. They’re determined to ruin my name. But God will deal with all of them. Everything they throw at me shall be returned back to senders in God’s name. (She raises her rosary again).
Dr. Damages: Would you describe Mrs. Chinyere Ukaegbu as one of your enemies?
Dora Akunyili: That woman! She had the audacity to doubt the shooting incident. Who did she think she was? The board of NAFDAC agreed with me that she deserved immediate and ignominious dismissal for her crime.
Dr. Damages: It was a crime for her to tell people she didn’t believe your story?
Dora Akunyili: I believe in 100% loyalty. If you don’t believe my story, you should not be a director at NAFDAC. The board of NAFDAC, in their great wisdom, agreed with me to get rid of her quick quick.
Dr. Damages: But some board members have confided in me that you forced them to rubberstamp your decision. They said you were too close to Obasanjo and that you flaunted…
Dora Akunyili: (Interrupts) Is it a crime to be close to Baba?
Dr. Damages: Well, the board members said they knew it was callous to sack a woman who had put in years of service and risen to the position of director. However, they went along with your wishes because you made it clear you were going to ask your Baba to fire those who dissented.
Dora Akunyili: All I know was that the board agreed with me 100% to fire the woman. I don’t show mercy to those who’re disloyal – or loyal only to 99%. The woman was close to retirement age, but it didn’t matter to me. She deserved to be dismissed without benefits. It served her right. It was also a warning to others like her. Bad belle people like her stopped me from winning the Nobel Prize.
Dr. Damages: Excuse me! So the shooting was then a stunt to win the Nobel Prize?
Dora Akunyili: No, oh no! (She leans in and whispers into Dr. Damages’ ear). Please, you have to edit that out.
Dr. Damages: Was it true that directors of NAFDAC called you Mummy? And that a classmate of yours, who was the director of operations, had to kneel down anytime she talked to you?
Dora Akunyili: It’s God who made me their mummy. Only God gives and takes power. After all, did I not constantly kneel down for Baba?
Dr. Damages: And for Chief Lamidi Adedibu – when you wanted his help to get a ministerial position.
Dora Akunyili: He lied, that dirty old man!
Dr. Damages: But he challenged you to sue him if you were sure that he lied.
Dora Akunyili: Eh, but Baba begged me to forgive him.
Dr. Damages: You seem to have more enemies than usual. Why is that?
Dora Akunyili: It comes with success. Even my husband’s folks in Agulu hate me. They say, those tribes of witches and wizards, that I use juju to control my husband. Imagine! They don’t know that Chike, my husband, is a gentleman. He no longer listens to idle gossips about me. He isn’t intimidated by my success. He is such a quiet man. He encourages me to be successful. The only thing that upsets him is failure. I advise women to do whatever is needed to become successful. Success gives women immunity from spousal battery and all forms of abuse.
Dora Akunyili: There’s this rumor or gossip that armed robbers once attacked you while you were at PTF?
Dora Akunyili: They did oh, my brother. And they stole all the PTF money I had on me in that attack. I don’t know why good people like me always encounter bad people. It is the price we pay for being good.
Dr. Damages: I understand that you had personal reasons for fighting fake drugs at NAFDAC.
Dora Akunyili: Oh yes. Fake drug sellers were responsible for the death of my sister, Fidelia.
Dr. Damages: I thought she suffered from sickle cell?
Dora Akunyili: But it was fake drugs that struck the last blow.
Dr. Damages: I see.
Dora Akunyili: Also, fake drugs threatened marriages.
Dr. Damages: They did? How so?
Dora Akunyili: It had to do with tampons. I discovered that some fake drug makers put STD on tampons and sold them to unsuspecting women.
Dr. Damages: They did what?
Dora Akunyili: They put STD in tampons.
Dr. Damages: Why would they do something like that?
Dora Akunyili: So that women would buy their antibiotics when they started suffering from STD.
Dr. Damages: You believe that?
Dora Akunyili: I know that.
Dr. Damages: You believe that STDs can survive on the tampon? For how long?
Dora Akunyili: Have you forgotten that I am a pharmacist? I know what I’m talking about.
Dr. Damages: And you know someone who caught STD that way.
Dora Akunyili: Oh, yes. Many women I know were victims. It did not end there. Some of these women suffered great beating from their husbands because the men thought their wives got the STD from sleeping around. Meanwhile, it was the tampons that they used that caused it.
Dr. Damages: Why didn’t you alert the country about such a public health crisis?
Dora Akunyili: I didn’t want women to panic. I had no alternatives to the tampon for them. Doing that would have been like taking radioactive rosaries away from Catholics without having something to replace them.
Dr. Damages: You’ve received over 400 national and international awards for your work.
Dora Akunyili: Who’s counting? I thank God for people who love me.
Dr. Damages: Well, they were all listed on your NAFDAC profile. One of the awards is called Christian Integrity Award. You got that in 2003. What is Christian integrity?
Dora Akunyili: Christian integrity is standing up for what is right even when it goes against conventional wisdom.
Dr. Damages: Give me an example.
Dora Akunyili: I groomed a successor at NAFDAC. He was a good friend of mine. All was set for him to get the position. Then I found out that he would destroy the work I did at the agency. I walked into Obasanjo’s office and told him to drop the man. And he did. I did not blink. I did not care about birthday bashes he threw for me or money he gave me in the past to buy shares. It was the right thing to do and I did it. That’s Christian integrity.
Dr. Damages: Why was President Yar’Adua initially reluctant to make you a minister?
Dora Akunyili: He was then sitting on his high moral stool.
Dr. Damages: What does that mean?
Dora Akunyili: I heard that he bought into some of those stories floating around about me. Those are stories that my enemies go about telling. When they see a beautiful woman who is also smart they assume that any man who smiles at her must be doing something with her. Because they cannot say I’m dumb, they say that I flirt around. Because they cannot say that I am timid, they say that I have ego. Because they cannot say that I am ugly, they say that I flirt around. Flirt around, flirt around, that’s all they say. Pathetic, devilish traders of gossip!
Dr. Damages: Was your final hour strike against him a revenge for the way he initially treated your nomination?
Dora Akunyili: Oh, no. Not at all! I was just doing what was in the best interest of the country. Someone had to step up and say that it was time for him to resign.
Dr. Damages: Your critics say you were just being your opportunistic self.
Dora Akunyili: Satan works through my enemies. But let me assure you that it was not about me.
Dr. Damages: But you turned against the man who made you a minister?
Dora Akunyili: It was the right thing to do. Christian integrity demands that. That’s the whole truth.
Dr. Damages: (Stares at her)
Dora Akunyili: What again? What now?
Dr. Damages: You tell me.
Dora Akunyili: I mean, the Americans told me the man was as good as kaput. So, I had to seize the opportunity, so to say. But it was for the good of the country, I swear. I can kiss the rosary if you don’t believe me.
Dr. Damages: I believe you.
Dora Akunyili: You don’t look as if you do.
Dr. Damages: I do. Tell me: were you an agent of the Americans?
Dora Akunyili: What kind of nonsense question is that?
Dr. Damages: I’m just asking.
Dora Akunyili: (Stands up). You know what? I’m done with this interview. I think it was all a mistake coming here.
Dr. Damages: You can’t leave now. We haven’t discussed how Ngige stole your Senate seat.
Dora Akunyili: (Eyes sharpened, nose turned up in disgust). I don’t care. I’m going to the tribunal to take back my seat.
Dr. Damages: But wasn’t it reported that your husband advised you not to go to the tribunal?
Dora Akunyili: Ehm, I’m not going to the tribunal. But APGA, in its wisdom, decided to go.
Dr. Damages: When we come back, Auntie Dora will tell us about the famous wedding of her son, life as a grandmother, and how to keep coming back when everything else fails as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Dora Akunyili: (Storms off the stage. She turns around before disappearing altogether). Anu-ofi. Stupid man. Nonsense. Useless son of your father. You’re just a fly on the wall. I will deal with Charles Soludo, Chris Ngige and all those liars who are feeding you with false information about me. We shall see!