New US$1 million contribution to be matched 2-to-1 by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

LISBON, Portugal (June 25, 2013) – Prominent Nigerian business leader and philanthropist Sir Emeka Offor announced yesterday a new gift of US$1 million to Rotary’s PolioPlus program, which provides funding and other support for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). The announcement comes as more than 20,000 Rotary members from 160 countries gather in Lisbon for the organization’s annual convention.

Offor’s gift is the first million-dollar gift received toward a newly-extended fundraising partnership between Rotary and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This collaboration – dubbed End Polio Now – Make History Today -- could generate up to $525 million towards polio eradication efforts over the next five years. Through the agreement, the Gates Foundation will match 2 for 1 every dollar Rotary commits up to $35 million per year to polio eradication through 2018. Thus, Offor’s gift generates $3 million for the eradication effort.

All funds raised will support critically-needed immunization activities in polio-affected countries. The eradication initiative’s recently unveiled endgame plan is expected to cost $5.5 billion to implement. In April, world governments, NGOs and individual philanthropists pledged $4 billion to fund the effort. Securing the remaining funds will ensure that no polio immunization campaigns will be cut or scaled back, and puts the world on track for global eradication of the disease by 2018. 

Nigeria is one of three countries—including Afghanistan and Pakistan—that remain polio-endemic. Until active transmission of the wild poliovirus is interrupted in the endemic countries, other areas remain at risk from so-called “imported” cases that can cause sudden polio outbreaks.

“There is no reason why any child should suffer from this terrible—yet preventable—disease,” said Offor, Executive Vice Chairman of the Chrome Group, an Abuja-based oil and gas service conglomerate and founder of the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation, which focuses on poverty alleviation through literacy and education programs in West Africa’s poorest communities. “I hope that my gift to PolioPlus will inspire other donors to support the fight to end polio in Nigeria, and throughout the world.”

This is Offor’s second major contribution to Rotary’s polio eradication effort. In celebration of World Polio Day on October 24, 2012, Offor set a strong example for others in Nigeria’s private sector with his $250,000 gift to Rotary’s PolioPlus program.

Offor has contributed a combined total of more than $2.1 million to Rotary in support of the organization’s global humanitarian and educational programs. His gifts make him the largest contributor from Africa in Rotary’s 108 year history.

In February 2013, Sir Offor contributed $250,000 in support of Rotary initiatives to enhance maternal and child health and another $250,000 for education and literacy projects. 

In October 2012, Offor contributed $250,000 in support of Rotary’s peace and conflict resolution studies. The gift provides support for students from Nigeria and other African countries who attend the Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. The Center offers a three-month professional development certificate in peace and conflict studies to approximately fifty peace fellows annually. Five other Rotary Peace Centers throughout the world offer master’s degree programs.  

Rotary will honor Offor at a 30 October 2013 celebration at its international headquarters in Evanston, Ill., USA. 

“Rotary is proud of the commitments made by Sir Emeka Offor and others, to support Rotary’s highest priority,” said Past Rotary Vice President John Germ, who leads the organization’s fundraising efforts for polio eradication. “We remain committed to a polio-free world, and this gift helps to get us one step closer.” 

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