Date: Tue Jul 01, 2003
11:30:20 MNJ US/Eastern
To: "Petina Dixon" DixonP@rotaryintl.org
Subject: Rotary International's First African President
Rotary International's First African President Takes Office
(EVANSTON, Ill. USA- 1 July 2003) - Jonathan B. Majiyagbe, a Nigerian
lawyer, takes office on 1 July as President of Rotary
International, a 98-year-old service organization with
more than 1.2 million members and a network of 30,000
community-based service clubs in 166 countries. As the first person of African origin
to lead Rotary, Majiyagbe's presidency is historic.
"This will be a big boost to Rotary in Africa," says
Abdulrahman Tunji Funsho, a Nigerian Rotary member. "It proves that Rotary is an international organization
of equal people and that selecting a leader is not based
on a particular race or religion."
"He is the right president at the right time," says James
Lacy, chairman of the trustees of The Rotary Foundation
of Rotary International.
"I can't think of anyone better suited for
Majiyagbe has chosen "Lend a Hand" as the theme of his
Majiyagbe: "We will Lend a Hand to alleviate
poverty, educate the illiterate and relieve the scourge
of disease, and we will Lend a Hand of fellowship to all
of the family of Rotary. I will encourage Rotarians to help meet
the basic needs of the many people who live in desperate
A member of the Honourable Body of Benchers, Majiyagbe is also
a former member of the interim judicial service committee,
Kano State, a past vice president of the Nigerian Bar
Association and a member of the International Bar Association.
He was chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of Kano
and now serves as the Chairman of the Nigerian Red Cross
Society, Kano Branch
Dedicated to the global effort to eradicate polio, Majiyagbe has
served as Chairman of the African Regional PolioPlus Committee
and member of the International PolioPlus Committee.
Rotary's PolioPlus program, launched in 1985, is
an aggressive public/private partnership to assist international
health agencies and governments to certify the world as
polio free by the year 2005, Rotary's centennial anniversary.
Rotary has committed more than a half billion US
dollars to the eradication effort. To date, more than
two billion children have been immunized against the deadly
has contributed more than US$171 million toward immunization
activities in Africa
A Rotary member since 1967, Majiyagbe is the past president and
a current member of the Rotary Club of Kano. Rotary International
has 874 clubs and 23,000 members located in 51 countries
throughout Africa. Rotary International has been an important
presence on the continent since the first club was established
in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1921.
Raises US$88,557,000 To Battle Polio
Fundraising Drive Exceeds Campaign Goa
(BRISBANE, Australia) As
part of Rotary's 20-year commitment to end polio by its
100th anniversary in 2005, the humanitarian service organization
announced that its 1.2 million members successfully raised
over US$88 million; surpassing its original goal of US$80
Last year, Rotary embarked on its second major fundraising drive
entitled, "Fulfilling our Promise: Eradicate Polio,"
to help raise critically needed resources to purchase
oral polio vaccine, and to help cover operational expenses
and poliovirus surveillance.
During the announcement to more than 16,000 Rotary members gathered
in Brisbane, Australia for Rotary's 94th annual international
convention, Bhichai Rattakul, 2002-03 President of Rotary
International said, "Thanks to the remarkable commitment
and generosity of Rotary members worldwide, we are closer
than ever to wiping out this crippling and deadly disease.
Rotary was the first to have the vision of a polio-free
world. Today, we are just as committed to this legacy;
our gift to the children of the world."
The funds raised this year are in addition to the US$500 million
Rotary has committed to polio eradication since 1985,
when Rotary launched its first fundraising drive with
the goal of US$120 million. By the end of that campaign, Rotary more
than doubled its goal and created its PolioPlus program
- the largest private-sector support of a global health
initiative ever. In addition, over one million men and
women of Rotary have volunteered their time and personal
resources to help immunize more than two billion children
in 122 countries
A highly infectious disease, polio still affects children mainly
under the age of five, in countries located in South Asia
and in parts of Africa.
Polio can cause paralysis and sometimes death.
As there is no cure for polio, the best protection
is prevention. For as little as US .60 cents worth of vaccine, a child can
be protected against this crippling disease for life.
Great strides have been made in polio eradication. In the 1980s, approximately 1,000 children
were infected by this crippling disease every day. In 2002, 1,919 children contracted polio
in seven countries (India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Afghanistan,
Niger, Somalia and Egypt), down from the 350,000 cases
estimated in 125 countries in 1988. The Americas were declared free from polio
in 1994, as well as the Western Pacific region in 2000,
and Europe in 2002.
Once eradicated, polio will be the second disease
after smallpox ever to be eliminated worldwide
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is spearheaded by the World
Health Organization, Rotary International, the US Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United
Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
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