Sir Emeka Offor; A Worthy Soldier In The Fight Against Polio

Charity is injurious unless it helps the recipient to become independent of it. - John D. Rockefeller Jr.

Today, the African region is being declared free of wild polio virus after Nigeria, the only polio endemic nation in the region has been free of it for 3 years. This moment’s success should not be taken for granted because in 2000 alone, Nigeria reported 637 cases of wild polio virus. Since then, there has been a consistent drop in cases occasioned by concerted efforts from different stakeholders. Globally, cases of wild polio virus fell by 99% from 350,000 cases in 1988 to 33 cases in 2018. The number of endemic countries also fell from 125 countries in 1988 down to just 2 today. The road to polio free African region was rough, bumpy and sometimes fatal. At a point in the fight against the scourge, there was vaccine rejection in some parts of the country as a result of misinformation. Molestation of health workers and insurgency were part of difficulties we overcame.

The declaration of African region wild polio virus free was made possible by concerted efforts from different governments, NGOs, health workers and cooperating parents. Notable among the NGOs that made this possible is Sir Emeka Offor Foundation. Sir (Dr) Emeka Offor is very instrumental in the eradication of wild Polio virus from African region and hopefully Pakistan and Afghanistan who are the remaining endemic nations will benefit from African experience. The African success story on polio cannot be complete without mentioning how Sir Emeka Offor used his foundation to show his commitment to the cause in varying forms all through to this day. The source of his determination, devotion and zeal in the fight against polio was revealed by him in an exclusive chat with reporters on Saturday, the 1st day of March 2014 at Sir Emeka Offor Foundation headquarters in Oraifite. Sir Emeka Offor, the chairman of Chrome group answered the question on many minds which was what drives his passion and resolve to seeing that polio is irreversibly eradicated since he was never a victim or anyone close to him. In a reminiscential mood he narrated his experience in the north where he was born and how some of his childhood friends were hampered by wild Polio virus. That experience shaped the mindset he brought with him in the course of ending Polio in Africa. In his words, “I have been willing to bring joy and relief to polio survivors and to bring whatever I can in making sure Polio is defeated in Africa and the world at large. I witnessed from my childhood in the northern part of the country where I was born, polio’s capacity to ruin lives. That is why I want to make sure that this particular disease is eradicated so that children will be free from it not only in our country but the world at large.’’ The debilitating power of polio he witnessed in other children while growing up calcified his resolve to help Polio survivors become self-reliant. As time passed, he found out that Polio can be prevented through vaccination which availed him the opportunity to help finance its eradication.

His quest to see polio eradicated globally brought Rotary International to his attention and he became a member of the organization. As a Rotarian, he has used Rotary International platform to donate over $2.3 million dollars making him African highest donor and his contribution prompted Rotary to appoint him Rotary International Ambassador to Nigeria. As Rotary International Polio Ambassador to Nigeria, his activities in the fight against Polio did not stop at donations but extended to his participation in every round of immunization, advocacy, celebrity endorsements for awareness and logistics for health workers. The Sir Emeka Offor Rotary hall under construction in Abuja is going on at no cost to Rotary as the foundation has taken to bear the full cost of the project. His foundation has also given out thousands of mobility aide to Polio survivors across the country and continues to support any activity or project aimed at making polio survivors become economically self-reliant. His donations and other efforts put into the fight against the scourge impelled President Muhammadu Buhari to write him a letter of thanks for his contributions. Sir Emeka Offor believes that as African region is declared free of wild polio virus, we should not let our guard down as all activities in the fight against polio like immunization, advocacy, sensitization and all logistical planning should continue in other to make sure there is no resurgence anywhere on the continent again.

Sir Emeka Offor Foundation which was founded in 1994 and incorporated in 2006 has a tripod focus on Health, Education and Empowerment and the foundation has massively done well in all these areas. Over $30 million worth of books have been distributed to primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in 19 African countries including Nigeria through the education program of the foundation. The foundation has empowered thousands of widows and giving out scholarships to brilliant students while those not educationally inclined have been fixed through skill acquisition program. The foundation equally intervened during this Covid-19 pandemic with the distribution of fourteen 40 feet containers of various hospital equipment including PPE and face masks to 14 different tertiary health institutions across the country.

Congratulations to Sir (Dr) Emeka Offor and his foundation, health workers, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rotary International, the government and all other stakeholders in this historic win over polio in our continent. In the words of Sir Emeka Offor, ‘until the world becomes polio free, no child anywhere can truly be free of polio virus.’ The two remaining polio endemic countries need the support of the rest of the world to finally archive poliomyelitis where the likes of smallpox and rinderpest are in history.

Obi Ebuka Onochie

Photo Credit: Alex Aghomi

WHO Declares Nigeria Polio Free

World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared Nigeria free of wild polio, following the completion of documentation for the free status.
Sir Emeka Offor Foundation committed over four millions of dollars towards eradication of polio in Nigeria. The Foundation commends all the stake holders involved in the successful eradication of this debilitating disease from our country. The Federal Government of Nigeria, Health workers, Volunteers, sponsors like Sir Emeka Offor Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other Foundations are the heroes for this moment.
This celebration does not mean we should let our guard down but continue to follow World Health Organization’s directives in maintaining our present status. Bill and Melinda Gates foundation commits double of any amount of money donated to Rotary international for Polio eradication which has seen Sir Emeka Offor Foundation’s donations Rotary International for the eradication of polio tripled. Rotary International has really worked very hard in the area of raising funds, public sensitization, surveillance, reporting and partnership with governments, individuals and foundations all over the world including Sir Emeka Offor Foundation.
On 21st August 2019, Nigeria marked three years without any case of wild Poliovirus. The declaration of Nigeria as Polio Free means that Nigeria has so far gone beyond three years without any child being paralyzed by the wild polio virus. In a meeting in 2019 with Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), Ambassador Andrew J. Young (Former US Ambassador to the UN) who was visiting Sir Emeka Offor Foundation shared the United States success story in eradicating Polio while also commending Nigeria in their effort.
Sir (Dr) Emeka Offor was very elated at the news of certification of Nigeria as polio free nation. Nigeria for years has remained the only polio endemic nation in Africa and one of the three countries in the world alongside Pakistan and Afghanistan. “I am happy that all our efforts in eradicating polio did not go in vain and this shows that we can achieve much greater things together’ Sir Dr. Emeka offor said today at the foundation’s headquarters in Abuja. Since 2013 Sir Emeka Offor Foundation committed the first one million dollars to end Polio, a lot have been achieved and many children’s lives have been saved and today Nigeria is totally free from wild polio virus.

Obi Ebuka Onochie

SEOF donates Hospital Bed sets to ABUTH Zaria

The Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital Zaria on Wednesday 20th May 2020 received 100 hospital bed sets worth 48.5 million naira from Sir Emeka Offor Foundation for its Covid-19 isolation center. Receiving the items on behalf of the hospital, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the hospital Prof. Ahmed Hamidu Umdagas thanked the Foundation for their kind gesture and promised that the items will not only be put to good use but will serve the community even beyond covid-19 era.

Sir Emeka Offor who was represented at the ceremony by AIG Chris Ezike Rtd, the Chief of Staff to Sir Emeka Offor gave a brief history of the Foundation and stated that the Foundation's investment in Heath sector is to augment government efforts which actually is one of the tripods the Foundation stands on. The other areas being Education and Empowerment which equally receive as much attention as Health. He informed the audience that in the last nine years, the Foundation has distributed books and other educational materials to Universities, Polytechnics, Colleges of education, Primary and Secondary Schools across Nigeria and 18 other African countries worth over $30 million. He also highlighted the Foundation's recent donation in support of government efforts in the fight against covid-19 pandemic. SEOF has distributed fourteen 40 feet containers of highly needed hospital equipment and materials to designated hospitals and health institutions across Nigeria including the military and the police. He informed the CMD of the hospital that 4 containers of medicines and supplies have already been procured and shipped by the Foundation for distribution to selected hospitals and health institutions in Nigeria, ABUTH being one of them.

The Permanent Secretary Kaduna State Ministry of Health Alh. Shuaibu Muhammed who represented Kaduna State Government conveyed the state government appreciation of the donation noting that the coming onboard of the ABUTH isolation center is a welcomed development to the government. He used the opportunity to reiterate the need for the enforcement and observation of social distancing and other Covid-19 protocols especially among Health workers. He enjoined health workers not to lose their guard while treating others as 19 health workers have tested positive for Covid-19 in the state, 7 of them are health workers in ABUTH.

In his own remarks, the Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria Prof. Kabir Bala who was the Special Guest of honor thanked Sir Dr. Emeka Offor and his Foundation for coming to their rescue with the donation. He also appreciated the Foundation for the books and education materials that have been donated to his University in the past calling on other wealthy Nigerians to see investment in health and education as a collective responsibility. He also stated that the manufacturing of hand sanitizers, face masks and detergents now take place in the University to meet the increasing demands for these items.

The highlight of the event was the commissioning and inspection of the isolation center by the Special Guest of Honor, Prof. Bala accompanied by other dignitaries.

By Obi Ebuka Onochie
Photo Credit: Alex Aghomi

Construction of Rotary Center Abuja Flagged Off

Groundbreaking for the construction of Rotary Center Abuja was done today by Rotary's Polio Ambassador to Nigeria and its African highest donor Sir Dr. Emeka Offor at Jabi Airport road near Baze University Abuja. Sir Dr. Emeka Offor used the opportunity to plant tree which will be part of the edifice beautification and act as wind breakers. The center will have two buildings one of which is a Conference Hall and the other is a multi-purpose seven-storey building.

Sir Emeka Offor Foundation has taken up the burden of erecting the 1,600 capacity conference hall which Rotary has named after the founder. The Sir Emeka Offor Rotary Hall will be completed in twelve weeks from today. The construction of the conference hall will be handled by A.G Vision Construction Limited at the cost of 70 million naira. The second building which will be built after the conference hall will be a multi-purpose building including lodgment services, meeting halls, restaurant, etc.

Among the entourage of Sir Emeka Offor were Former Senate President, Sen. Ken Nnamanni, Sen. Magnus Abbe, former minister of state for Health Idi Hong, SEOF Chief of Staff AIG Chris Ezike Rtd, Barrister Chike Ekpelle and Hon. Tony Nwoye. Jonathan Babatunde Majiyagbe who was Rotary International President from 2003 to 2004 and the District 9125 governor, DG – Dr. Victor Onukwugha were among Rotarians at the groundbreaking ceremony. The center when finished could become Rotary International headquarters for African region which is already granted but not commissioned.

By Obi Ebuka Onochie
Photo Credit: Alex Aghomi

You are here: Home SEOF Latest News and Events