Emeka Offor announces another $1m contribution to Rotary for polio eradication
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, June 3, 2014 - For the second consecutive year, Nigerian philanthropist and business leader Sir Emeka Offor (affectionately known as Sir Emeka) has donated US$1 million to Rotary’s PolioPlus program, which supports global efforts to eradicate the disease.
Sir Emeka announced his gift today at the organization’s annual convention, which is taking place this week in Sydney, Australia, and has drawn more than 18,000 Rotarians from 150 countries. Last year’s gift was also announced at Rotary’s convention, held in Lisbon.
The eradication effort is a personal commitment for Sir Emeka, who hails from one of the three countries where wild polio has never been stopped (the others are Afghanistan and Pakistan).
“Polio was common during my childhood in Kafanchan, Kaduna State, Nigeria,” explained Sir Emeka, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Chrome Group, a Nigerian oil and gas conglomerate. “My friends, classmates, and their siblings all fell victim to this terrible disease. As a young man, I vowed I would someday do something significant to end polio in Nigeria.”
Sir Emeka has made good on his promise. This new gift brings his total contributions to Rotary to $3.1 million; however, he has done far more than simply donate money to fight polio. Since last year’s contribution, he has been increasingly active as Rotary’s PolioPlus Ambassador in Nigeria. Sir Emeka works with a team of Rotary leaders to liaise with the Government of Nigeria through the federal and state health systems and primary health centers in local government areas where polio eradication efforts are most needed. They also work with religious and traditional leaders whose support is needed for successful immunization campaigns. Furthermore, two months ago, Sir Emeka opened a PolioPlus Ambassador’s Office at no cost to Rotary in Abuja, Nigeria. This office, which was commissioned by Rotary Trustee Chair Dong Kurn Lee, serves as a hub for Sir Emeka’s PolioPlus ambassadorial activities in Nigeria and supports the work of Rotary’s National PolioPlus Committee.
“Rotary is proud to be working with a business and humanitarian leader like Sir Emeka Offor,” said Past Rotary Vice President John Germ, who leads the organization’s fundraising efforts for polio eradication. “With Sir Emeka’s support, Nigeria has made significant progress and is closer than ever to eliminating polio within its borders. We are confident we will eliminate this disease from the world and ensure no child ever again has to suffer from its crippling effects. ”
Sir Emeka’s support comes at a critical time for global polio eradication efforts. Nigeria in particular has seen tremendous progress in recent years and is closer than ever to ending the disease. In 2013, the country had only 53 cases of polio, a record low for a nation that, as recently as 2012, was home to more than half the world’s cases. However, conflict and insecurity continue to pose challenges to polio eradication. Sir Emeka’s new gift will help Rotary fund critically-needed immunization activities to ensure the disease is stopped for good.
The $1 million gifts from both 2013 and 2014 are eligible for matching funds under the End Polio Now – Make History Today fundraising campaign, carried out in conjunction with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Under the agreement, the Gates Foundation will match 2 for 1 every dollar Rotary commits to polio eradication, up to $35 million per year. Thus, Sir Emeka’s $2 million in support of PolioPlus leverages $6 million toward polio eradication.
Beyond last year’s $1 million gift, Sir Emeka has previously supported Rotary’s polio eradication work through a $250,000 gift to celebrate World Polio Day, and has also generously contributed to Rotary’s maternal and child health, peace and conflict resolution and educational programs. His gifts make him the largest contributor from Africa in Rotary’s 109 year history.
In addition to his support for Rotary, he is the founder of the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation, which focuses on poverty alleviation through literacy and education programs in West Africa’s poorest communities.