A philanthropist and Rotary International’s Polio Ambassador to Nigeria, Sir Emeka Offor, has vowed to sustain his support for polio eradication until the scourge is totally eliminated on the surface of the earth.
Mr Offor made the declaration on Wednesday during the unveiling of a Polio Bill Board he sponsored and donated by his Foundation located by the Pedestrian Bridge, Police Sign Post, Lugbe, Airport Road Abuja
He also said he is now better encouraged and determined to keep the advocacy on until Nigeria is certified polio free in March 2020.
Sir Offor said he is certain that the World Health Organization would certify Nigeria as polio-free by march 2020 because, according to him, there has never been any polio outbreak since the last three years.
According to him, the development stemmed from the sustained immunization and advocacy in the country.
Although Nigeria is close to be certified polio-free, Mr Offor avowed to sustain the tempo until polio leaves the surface of the earth.
‘‘I feel better now and more encouraged and determined. We are going to continue the advocacy until polio is eradicated from the surface of the earth. If that is not done, we have not finished yet.
‘‘With what I am seeing now, I think we are there already. Since the last three years, no news of outbreak has been heard.
“Everybody is working hard and all parties are together. The advocacy team is continuing and we are happy.
‘‘Though we are close to being certified polio free that is why we are here, we will continue, everybody must continue, to create awareness until we get to where want to be. It should not be left to Rotarians alone till the last day, March 2020.’’
On the benefit to Nigeria, Mr Offor said: ‘‘It is a very big milestone if we achieve that, it means no child will die of polio again.
“Achieving polio eradication will mean so much to me and to Nigeria,” he said.
On the inspiration behind his support, he said: ‘‘I have looked through how I got to this place. I have lived more than what I have in front.
“Even if I have acquired a lot, if I do not do the right thing, supporting the indigent people, one day I will leave it in the hands of people that do not know what to do with it.
“It is better now I am living I do what I should do and people that need this help will benefit from it,” he said.
In his remarks, the District Governor, Victor Onukwugh, said the decision by the Rotary International to raise the billboard on the airport road, Lugbe was informed by the need to impact on the people and the need to publicise what they have been doing in the world to drive polio out of existence.
He informed that, ‘‘Sir Emeka Offor has been at the forefront of the advocacy and has so far given up to $4 million to this course. Till date, he remains the greatest donor in Africa for this course”.
In terms of sustenance of the gains so far made, Mr Onukwugha said the Club is resolute and would stop at nothing to ensure that Nigeria is declared polio free by March 2020.
‘‘Even in the height of insurgency, Rotary went to the warfront to immunize children in the camps.
“It is not just an Abuja thing; Rotary has been fighting.
‘‘We are already polio free; we are only waiting to be certified. The only hindrance is if there is new occurrence.’’
On her part, the past Assistant Governor, Evelyn Onyilo said if Nigeria is declared polio free it would save the country the problem of having crippled children.
‘‘We cannot afford to see our children suffer like that. We want healthy children and healthy nation. We want to depopulate the issue of physically challenged people in Nigeria.
‘‘You cannot quantify the benefits, by being polio free means we will have more productive people in the country, more healthy people and healthier country.
“Polio is a disease that affects mostly children from 0 to 5 years. So far, there has been sustained immunization to make sure that polio is eradicated in Nigeria.
“Right now, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only countries in the world that still have polio but in the case of Nigeria, there has not been any virus in the past three years.
“With this development, Nigeria is on its way to be listed as one of the countries that is polio free.
“Rotary international has been in the forefront for more than 30 years now in this polio eradication campaign and has produced result,” he noted.
The new sign board erected on Airport Road, Lugbe is one out of many sign boards erected by Sir. Emeka Ofor Foundation across the country.
Other sites include: Oraifite, Onitsha, Awka, Asaba, Umuahia and Port Harcourt.