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ROTARY EXTENSION A KEY TO THE FUTURE OF ROTARY IN NIGERIA BY: PAST DISTRICT GOVERNOR CHIEF WILLIAMS O. ADJEKUGHELE PRESENTATION AT INTER – CITY MEETING HELD AT ABUJA ON THE VISIT OF ROTARY INTENATIONAL PRESIDENT SAKUJI TANAKA TO NIGERIA ON 13 TH JULY 2012 .
PAST DISTRICT GOVERNOR CHIEF WILLIAMS O. ADJEKUGHELE
PRESENTATION AT INTER – CITY MEETING HELD AT ABUJA ON
THE VISIT OF
ROTARY INTENATIONAL PRESIDENT
SAKUJI TANAKA TO NIGERIA ON 13TH JULY 2012.
The membership figures in the Districts in Nigeria as presently stated, is not encouraging. There is no doubt that some Districts have done quite well while others lag behind.
There is no doubt that Rotary has made giant strides in Nigeria over the years. We moved out of District 9100 which was then made up of the whole of West Africa, to constitute Nigeria as District 9110 in 1982.
By the end of 1982-83 Rotary year, the clubs in Nigeria became too large for one District and an application was made to Rotary International during the year 1983-84 to split Nigeria into two Districts and by the Rotary year 1984-85, District 9110 and 9120 were born.
The growth of Rotary in Nigeria continued at a phenomenal rate that by the 1986-87 Rotary year, Nigeria was again split into four Districts of 9110, 9120, 9130 and 9140. Our projection then was that by the year 2000, Nigeria will have at least six Districts.
Rotary blossomed until the early 1990s when we started to notice a lull in certain parts of the Country, especially in Districts 9120 and 9130.
The idea of spreading Rotary over the surface of Nigeria in those days was not for showmanship, but the Rotary Leadership then were die hard service minded people, who believed that one of the best ways to bring quality of life to the rural areas was to bring Rotary closer to them.
The construction of boreholes, clinics, classrooms and provision of medical and educational materials, agricultural inputs and assistance, etc to rural areas helped in some measure in alleviating hunger, providing quality education and improving the health of those we could reach.
These programs and projects were carried out in large scale at that time, without Special Grants or Health, Hunger and Humanity (3H) grants from the Rotary Foundation. They involved personal sacrifices and our ability to mobilize resources within our various communities.
Looking back, we were ingenuous in designing and executing major projects with 100% local content.
I emphasize these projects because they in themselves became tools for recruitment of Rotarians in various communities and clubs sprang up from those communities.
The success of Rotary extension depends largely on the leadership. The experiences of the defunct Districts 9120 and 9130 should be a lesson to us. If we do not take extension seriously, there may not be Rotary in Nigeria in the future. These merged Districts which has produced District 9125 is declining and the immediate future leaders have a great responsibility to reverse the trend.
When Rotary blossomed in Nigeria, women were not admitted into Rotary. We now have women and I dare say the population of women Rotarians in Nigeria is getting more than those of men. We therefore have better opportunity to increase our membership and we must tap into this.
We must reposition ourselves by looking into projects in our country that will make us both relevant and attractive in our communities and the nation at large.
Rotary is supposed to influence the public with our beautiful ideals of service and the greatest challenge we have in Nigeria today is corruption. The ideals of service, the ideals of honesty, the ideals of fairness, the ideals of goodwill, the ideals of peace, are various ideals that Rotary pride themselves of and have been highly appreciated by our rulers, politicians, traditional rulers managers of conglomerates who have at one time or the other felt that if these were practiced worldwide, there will be a perfect society.
We cannot afford to let go these assets of ours, which we ought to use to change our society and make it a better place.
I had said earlier that to reasonably assess the future, we must look at the past and the present. Having taken a look at these, how can we plot the future?
In my opinion, we need a complete re-orientation of Rotarians to enable them focus on the true ideals of Rotary.
It is gratifying to see some of the projects exhibited at some conferences. In some Districts, exhibition of projects are no longer done because there are no projects to exhibit and the communities can no longer see worthwhile projects they can identify us with.
We need to turn to our immediate communities to identify projects that will alleviate hunger, improve health and promote goodwill and peace. We need to concentrate our contributions to these areas and Rotarians should be recognized for their contributions to and participations in local projects than anything else.
Looking forward, Rotarians in Nigeria must go back to the basics. We must redefine Rotary in its true concept. What is Rotary and what is expected of us Rotarians.
As I have said, the greatest war in Nigeria today is the fight against corruption and Rotarians must be at the forefront of this war. We have the tools to fight this war.
The first tool, is the second object of Rotary, which is to encourage and foster “HIGH ETHICAL STANDARDS IN BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONS, THE RECOGNITION OF THE WORTHINESS OF ALL USEFUL OCCUPATIONS, AND THE DIGNIFYING OF EACH ROTARIAN’S OCCUPATION AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE SOCIETY”
We must promote high ethical standards in all our undertakings and impress it on the society that it is the best way to achieve best practices in all that we do.
IS IT THE TRUTH?
IS IT FAIR TO ALL CONCERNED?
WILL IT BUILD GOODWILL AND BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
4. WILL IT BE BENEFICIAL TO ALL CONCERNED?
The strong application of these will go a long way to change our society and highlight the need to live in dignity and that a good name is much more profitable than illegally acquired wealth.
I suggest, that if Rotary is to be relevant in future in Nigeria, all clubs must undertake projects not of cash but the ones that work on our minds. We can start from the young ones in schools through Interact and Rotaract, by educating them on the dignity of labour and why honesty pays more than anything else. We can spread this through Rotary Community Corps to our rural areas.
Fellow Rotarians, the future of Rotary in Nigeria depends on our actions today and in the immediate future. We have the opportunity to design what the future should look like and lay the necessary foundation on which we can build on.
Every club President whose club has less than 30 members, should immediately plan to bring its membership to 30 or more during the coming year.
Every Club President whose club has 30 members or more must plan to add additional 10 members at least during the year.
Every Club President should make effort to form a new club within their area or places close to them that have no clubs.
There must be a Rotary Club in every State Capital during this Rotary year and all club Presidents adjoining states that have no Rotary Clubs in their State Capitals must take these up as a challenge.
Every Club President must immediately determine the status of his or her club as far as District and RI dues are concerned to ensure they are not under threat of termination. If your club is terminated, then you will be jeopardizing the effort of the Districts to improve on their membership status and derail District plans.
All Assistant Governors must take responsibilities for the action of clubs under their supervision and I recommend to the District Governors that any Assistant Governor whose clubs are not meeting up with the goals within the first three months of the Rotary year should be changed immediately and a more proactive Rotarian appointed for that area.
Every Assistant District Governor must write a monthly report to the District Governors on each club within his or her area with emphasis on membership growth and Rotary Extension activities that took place in the preceding month.
The era of glorified office holders must come to an end.
We did it in the past and we can do it again.