Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair-elect Wilfrid Wilkinson (left) presents Rotary International’s Polio Eradication Champion Award to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. Photo courtesy of the Nigeria PolioPlus Committee
Rotary International has recognized Goodluck Jonathan, president of Nigeria, with its Polio Eradication Champion Award for his leadership and dedication to achieving a polio-free world.
Wilfrid Wilkinson, incoming chair of The Rotary Foundation Board of Trustees, presented the award to Jonathan on 23 April in a ceremony broadcast live on Nigerian national television.
“On behalf of Rotary’s 1.2 million members worldwide, including nearly 6,000 in Nigeria alone, I would like to express the solidarity of Rotary members in standing firmly beside President Jonathan and the Nigerian people in the polio eradication effort,” said Wilkinson. “I am honored to recognize the commitment of President Goodluck Jonathan for support of a polio-free Nigeria and a polio-free world.
Under Jonathan’s leadership, Nigeria launched its National Emergency Action Plan — a comprehensive strategy to accelerate progress toward polio eradication. Jonathan also increased funding for the eradication effort, from US$17 million to $30 million annually, for 2012 and 2013.
The number of polio cases in Nigeria plunged 95 percent between 2009 and 2010, to 21 cases from 388. However, an upsurge to 62 cases last year emphasized the need for continued vigilance.
“One thing I promise the Nigerian child, and also the Nigerian father and mother, is that if we cannot solve all the health problems in this country now, one thing this present administration is committed to is to eradicate polio by 2015,” Jonathan said. “I have already told the minister of state for health, [which] directly oversees this aspect, that we must do all that we can to eradicate polio in the next two years in this country.”
Jonathan joins a roster of distinguished leaders who have been recognized with Rotary’s Polio Eradication Champion Award, including India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari, and David Cameron, prime minister of the United Kingdom.