By Henry Umahi
Today, family members, friends and associates of Sir Emeka Offor, the billionaire businessman and philanthropist, will clink glasses. They have every cause to. Looking at the achievements of this extraordinary man, anybody who knows him would not hesitate than celebrate him. At 62, he has a larger than life image, well earned.
Sir Offor has worked hard as a businessman and has lived a life for humanity. It’s his passion, which he expressed in theses words: “I want to make my mark. Actually, I want to make two marks. One as an excellent businessman, who has built a group of companies that will stand the test of time. Two, to be as good at giving as I am at turning a profit.
“I hope to set an example for the next generation of successful Nigerian businessmen who will know they can make money while also making a difference.
“As a young man, I vowed that I would someday do something significant to end polio in Nigeria.”
True to his words, Sir Offor, who was born on February 10, 1959 in Kafanchan, Kaduna State, but an indigene of Irefi Oraifite in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State, has made marks in business and philanthropy.
Over the years, he has displayed an uncommon passion for selfless engagements.
In the late 1990s, Offor established the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (SEOF), a non-profit, charitable organisation, with a vision to reduce poverty and create life-improving economic opportunities for those residing in Nigeria’s most marginalized communities through education, health, and empowerment.
SEOF was registered under the Companies and Allied Matters Act in 2006. The foundation’s goal is to assist the less privileged in the society, and also provide support in human capacity development, skills acquisition as well as the establishment of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and cooperative societies.
SEOF has made remarkable impact in the lives of several Nigerians through youths and widows empowerment, among other programmes.
In March this year, while some people, including the rich and the powerful, were hoarding palliatives meant for the poor during the lockdown following the outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, Offor donated medical equipment and books worth $30 million to hospitals and academic institutions in Nigeria and 18 other African countries.
The philanthropist extraordinaire and business mogul made the donation through the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (SEOF).
In a statement, Offor’s Chief of Staff, Chris Ezike, who is a retired Assistant Inspector General of police, disclosed that the first phase of books were being distributed to 80 universities, 22 polytechnics, 37 colleges of education, seven public libraries (one from each of the six geo-political zones, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), 180 primary and secondary schools across the country. He also explained that they had all received their support materials.
According to the statement, “over 14 containers of consumable and medical equipment have been distributed, with each of the following institutions receiving one 40 feet container each. Some of the institutions that have received these medical equipment and supplies are: National Orthopedic Hospital Enugu, Enugu State – one container; Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Teaching Hospital Awka, Anambra State – one container; Police Hospital Abuja – one container; University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital – one container; General Hospital Daura, Katsina State – one container; Federal Medical Centre, Bayelsa State – one container; Federal Medical Centre Katsina, Katsina State – one container; Gombe State Specialist Hospital Gombe – one container; Kebbi State Medical Centre Kalgo, Kebbi State – one container; Nigeria Police Force – one container; Nigeria Army – one container; Ogun State Hospital Ilaro, Ogun State – one container; Central Hospital Benin City, Edo State – one container; General Hospital Oraifite, Anambra State – one container and Emergency Deployment – one container.”
In fact, it has been the character of the foundation to distribute books and educational materials to educational institutions across the country.
In May, the SEOF donated 100 sets of hospital beds worth N48.5 million to the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH), Zaria, Kaduna State.
Few months later, in September 2020 to be precise, the SEOF disclosed that it committed $4.2 million to end the scourge of the wild polio virus in Nigeria.
Ezike made the disclosure in Jalingo, Taraba State capital, while handing over 100 hospital beds, accessories and medications valued at N72 million to the Federal Medical Centre, Jalingo.
The donation was done in partnership with the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, through her pet project, Future Assured Program.
Ezike said: “Today, Nigeria is free from wild polio virus and indeed, Africa is free; but the world is not yet free because two countries still have wild polio.
“We are grateful to the WHO, the president of Nigeria and all the people who felicitated with our foundation.
“As a matter of fact, our founder committed $4.2 million through Rotary International for the eradication of polio in Nigeria.
“Today, we are happy that this modest commitment has yielded fruit and we want to plead with everyone to keep polio at zero.
“It is not yet Uhuru which is why robust vaccination, surveillance and advocacy must continue.
“The structure we have used for the eradication of polio is gradually being transferred to mitigate against the challenges of COVID-19.
“We are in discussion with the Federal Ministry of Health and Rotary International to use the same structure to impact on COVID-19.”
In June 2020, the SEOF also donated medical supplies worth $380,000 to FMC Jalingo.
The SEOF has continued the distribution of beds, medicines, medicaments, to scores of public hospitals and health institutions across the country
In October, the SEOF distributed rice to Kebbi State flood victims. The organization also donated rice to other states “to mitigate the hardship those whose houses and businesses were affected especially at the time the price of rice which is a staple food in Nigeria is very high.”
In June 11, 2015, Offor donated $10 million to accelerate Jimmy Carter’s effort to help eliminate river blindness in the country. Offor said: “I am deeply honoured to work closely with The Carter Centre, through the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation to help eliminate river blindness in Nigeria.
According to report, “the $10 million multi-year commitment by Sir Emeka is the largest grant from an individual African donor in Carter Center history, and the new resources will fund two-thirds of the Carter Center’s expanded interventions against river blindness in Nigeria to help meet the five-year target to eliminate river blindness nationwide.
For his contribution to the uplift of humanity, Offor has won many awards. Recently he was honoured by The Sun for Humanitarian Service. Other awards and recognitions of Offor include: Knight of Saint Christopher of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion; philanthropist of the Year Award by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Anambra State council – 2012; humanity award from the Kpakpando Foundation for Physically Challenged Persons – 2012;
Alex Ekwueme Award of Excellence for his outstanding contribution to education in Nigeria and Africa through SEOF – 2012. In 2013, the Nigerian Library Association (NLA) conferred on Offor the Eminent Service Award. He won the International Service Award for a Polio Free World by the Rotary International in 2016.