Posted by Arnold Grahl, Rotary International

Jonathan B. Majiyagbe, a past Rotary International president who was passionate about growing Rotary everywhere — especially in Africa — and about eradicating polio, has died at age 88. Majiyagbe, who died 27 May at a hospital in Abuja, Nigeria, served as Rotary International president in 2003-04. He was the first and so far the only RI president from Africa. The continent was declared free of wild polio in August 2020, due in part to his tireless advocacy and efforts.....

Under the presidential theme Lend a Hand, Majiyagbe called for alleviating poverty to be the top priority for his presidential term. "As Rotarians, we must open our eyes to see those around us who cannot afford shelter, health care, food, and other essentials," he wrote in the July 2003 issue of The Rotarian. "We must address these problems with compassion and pragmatism."

To represent this idea in the presidential theme logo, Majiyagbe "clearly wanted the two hands featured in the design to be on the same level so that the person receiving is equal in standing with the person giving the aid," said longtime friend and 2019-20 RI President Mark Daniel Maloney.

A lawyer by profession, Majiyagbe joined Rotary in 1967. He was a member of the Rotary Club of Abuja Metro and a past member of the Rotary Club of Kano. In addition to his term as RI president, he served as a director, Rotary Foundation trustee, and trustee chair. He served on several committees, including the International PolioPlus Committee, the Nigeria PolioPlus Committee, and the Reach Out to Africa Committee.

"He was an epitome of integrity and imbued with extraordinary intellect," said longtime friend Tunji Funsho, a past chair of the Nigeria PolioPlus Committee. "I will miss the warmth of his presence and drinking from his deep well of wisdom."

Funsho called Majiyagbe a mentor and role model, lauding his patience, humility, kindness, and forgiving spirit.

"As a man of faith, he kept service and charity close to heart," said Maloney, who served as Majiyagbe's presidential aide for nearly three years. "I observed Jonathan's remarkable skills and talents. He celebrated the eradication of polio on the African continent, a goal to which he faithfully worked well beyond his time as president."

Maloney also noted the great strength Majiyagbe exhibited after his first wife, Ade, died suddenly in June 2003 just as he was about to begin his presidency. Maloney and his wife, Gay, stayed with Majiyagbe during that time. "He persevered and gave life to the term, the 'family of Rotary.' He was keen for Rotarians to provide friendship and support to the families of Rotarians who had suffered a loss or illness."

Majiyagbe earned a law degree from the University of London and was a member of the Bar of England and Wales. He was principal partner in the firm J.B. Majiyagbe and Co., which had a wide commercial law practice in Kano and Abuja. Majiyagbe was also a senior advocate of Nigeria, a title conferred on those who have distinguished themselves in the practice of law.

He was a member of the Body of Benchers, the panel responsible for screening and admitting lawyers to the Nigerian Bar. He served on the interim judicial service committee of Kano State, was a past vice president of the Nigerian Bar Association, and was a member of the International Bar Association.

Majiyagbe was a former chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of Kano, chair of the Kano branch of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, and a member of the Kano Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture. In 2008, he was awarded the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He was also Major Donor and Benefactor of The Rotary Foundation with his spouse, Ayo. Majiyagbe received The Rotary Foundation's Citation for Meritorious Service and the Distinguished Service Award.

Majiyagbe is survived by Ayo, as well as his son, Folorunso, and three grandchildren. Memorial contributions may be made to The Rotary Foundation.