Emeka Offor And 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 has been declared free of wild polio virus after Nigeria, the only polio endemic nation in the region has been free of it for three 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 two 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 Emeka Offor is 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 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, March 1, 2014 at Sir Emeka Offor Foundation headquarters in Oraifite. Sir 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. 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 in other children while growing up made him to resolve to assist polio survivors to 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. His foundation has also given out thousands of mobility aide to polio survivors across the country. His efforts in the fight against the scourge impelled President Muhammadu Buhari to write him a letter of thanks for his contributions.
Obi Ebuka Onochie, obiebuka360@gmail.com