Rotary Ambassador Sir Emeka; Journey to End Polio Now

 

 

Written by Dr. Edwin Ndukwe

 

In August 2013, after surprising Rotarians and the world with a recent mega donation towards the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Sir Emeka was conferred the Rotary International Polio Ambassador to Nigeria, the first ever.

 

 

 

Sir E as he is fondly called, the impetus for joining Rotary and committing his resources hinged on pure altruism. As a result, when he learned of Rotary's plan to offer him the role of an Ambassador, he humbly declined. "All I wanted to do is support immunization efforts so that my children and others may be protected from the debilitating disease." However, after much convincing, he agreed to accept the challenge.

 

 

 

Setting aside the daily grind of his massive business empire, Sir Emeka readied the rudder to steer the boat of polio machinery to the shores of END POLIO NOW in Nigeria. In Sir E’s proverbial parlance, “It is the hand that made the fish bend.” The implication is that Sir Emeka sought the intellectual wit of a dynamic Rotarian, the District Governor Nominee, from district 9140,  Ijeoma Pearl Okoro

 Sir E said, “Ijeoma helped me to gain understanding of the true role of a Polio Ambassador. She gave me the courage to embrace my new commission as the Polio Ambassador to Nigeria without any befuddlement. I am very thankful that our paths crossed in the shaping of a roadmap for Polio eradication in Nigeria.”

 

 

 

Flattered and humbled by Sir Emeka’s candid remark on her part, Ijeoma said, “I saw in Sir Emeka; the heart of a child, the courage of a lion and the stillness of a wise Igbo man. I knew then Providence has unveiled a new visionary. I, therefore, unclasped my hands to lend him the support he needed to advance the objectives of Rotary International towards Global Polio Eradication Initiatives.”

 

 

 

“Charity," they say begins at home or better yet, should begin at home. Therefore, Sir Emeka’s first port of call in his Ambassadorial role was no other place than the quiet and convivial paths of his quaint country home, Oraifite in Anambra State. Amidst the volcanic and epochal drumbeats of the Ogene and the Udu familiar to his people, old men and women, widows, young mothers with their newborns in their arms assembled at his Foundation’s headquarter in Oraifite to learn of the danger of polio and to have their children under 5 years old immunized. Over 150 infants and children were successfully immunized during the outing. The event became the springboard for a number of immunization drives, advocacy projects,   culminating into the establishment of a Polio Ambassador Office dedicated to Rotary International at the instruction of Sir Emeka Offor and at no cost to Rotary.

 

 

 

At the convention in Sydney, Australia, where Sir Emeka donated another $1M to Polio-Plus End Game Strategy, he recognized that significant strides have been made by Rotary and its partners towards making the world ultimately polio free, but he expressed his continued determination to see the fight to a successful end.

 

 “Rotary is proud to be working with 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 and RI Presidents "Lights up Rotary"

 

 

 

Written by Dr. Edwin Ndukwe

Sydney, Australia 2014- Polio Summit drew to a flamboyant and colorful end today, June 4th. The world and indeed Rotarians celebrated their friendship, their courage, and their determination to pull resources towards promoting peace and conflict management, prevention of maternal and child death, education and literacy, and certainly polio eradication. The central theme of the summit, the "END POLIO NOW" and the "END GAME strategy" are well alive in the hearts of Rotarians as was seen throughout the various activities organized at the AllPhones Arena and at each of the plenary sessions.

The highlights being the pledge of $100M towards polio eradication by the Australian government and the independent donation of $1M by Sir Emeka Offor sparked a new enthusiasm among Rotarians. More than ever, they believe and therefore are determined to rid Nigeria and the rest of the endemic countries of Polio disease.

In his outgoing message, the RI President Ron Burton said, "Together, we can dream big and we can achieve. We can change whole communities for the better, not for a day but for a lifetime." His message reverberated through the walls of the arena, drawing a vigorous applause and leaving attendees to reclaim their belief that in a healthy collaboration, a great success can be achieved towards the end game strategy.

Similarly, the incoming RI President Gary C.K. Huang believes in working together. He called on members to spread the awareness of Rotary in their various communities. Endorsing a new theme, "Light up Rotary" for his tenure, which will begin in July, he encouraged Rotarians to "Use your hand to help, use your head to make sure you are helping in the right place, and use your heart to make it sincere. Without your heart, nothing else matters."

"Without your heart, nothing else matters," is so true a statement. Sir Emeka Offor embodies all of that. For two consecutive years and in between, he has given his resources to Rotary International for Polio eradication. Beyond resource provision, Sir Emeka has put his booths on the ground, criss-crossing the country of Nigeria and using his gentle hands to administer polio vaccine to young infants. His heart is certainly in it.

Sir Emeka Offor announces another $1M dollar contribution to Rotary International for Polio eradication

 

Press Release by Rotary International

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.

Offor, Carter Center to jointly fight River Blindness in Nigeria

 

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Sir Emeka Offor meet in London

 

LONDON -May 30, 2014-

The Sir Emeka Offor Foundation and the Carter Center have strengthened ties to wipe out onchocerciasis (river blindness) disease in Nigeria. The Executive Vice Chair of the Chrome Group and founder of the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation, Sir Emeka Offor, met for the first time with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn, in London recently to discuss their respective organizations’ partnership to eliminate onchocerciasis, which they both agreed is an often neglected disease that causes immense suffering in Nigeria.

During the meeting, the teams explored ways to strengthen their combined efforts to stop the needless suffering caused by the preventable parasitic disease. Nigeria accounts for 40 percent of the world's onchocerciasis.

"Together, the Offor Foundation, The Carter Center, the Nigeria Federal Ministry of Health and State Ministries of Health are working to wipe out this disease from seven states in Southeast and South South Nigeria (Abia, Anambra, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, and Imo states)," the statement said.

Last year, Sir Offor donated a total of $250,000 to The Carter Center. Earlier in the year, a team of field scientists from the Carter Center paid a courtesy visit to Sir Offor’s corporate headquarter in Abuja, where he explained his intentions to support the efforts of the Center towards their continued health work in Nigeria.

There has not been any official statement yet from both organizations as to the outcome of the May 30th meeting in London, but the SEOF views the meeting as very productive and promising for the goal of RB elimination in Nigeria.

Source: Written by Dr. Edwin Ndukwe

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