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By Isaac Taiwo
29 June 2018   |   4:12 am
The 37th District Governor of District 9110, Rotary International, comprising Lagos and Ogun states, Dr. Wale Ogunbadejo, will on July 1 bow out of office for the 2017/2018 service year.

Rotarian Adewale Ogunbadejo

The 37th District Governor of District 9110, Rotary International, comprising Lagos and Ogun states, Dr. Wale Ogunbadejo, will on July 1 bow out of office for the 2017/2018 service year. He spoke to ISAAC TAIWO on the period of his stewardship and how he was able to successfully steer the ship of the district.

How do you feel ending your tenure?
First, I give thanks to God for permitting me to have been chosen as a District Governor-Designate and granting me the good health of eventually serving out my term as District Governor. I remember that we had a Rotary International President-elect who never got sworn in, the late Samuel Owori. He was celebrated at Atlanta as Rotary International President and a few weeks later, he was dead.

There is every reason to give thanks to God that I am still alive today. One thing is to assume the mantle of leadership, another thing is to have a good health to weather the storm of a grueling, hectic time in service and to be alive till now. Therefore, I am grateful to God who saw me through.

How were you able to successfully manage two states, Lagos and Ogun as District Governor?
Well, I am not the first person to manage the two states. In fact, I am in 37th position as a District Governor for District 9110. Normally, as an organization grows, more people join and it is likely that among the new comers are unenlightened people who become Rotarians. I did not have any problem in both Lagos and Ogun states because we have known ourselves for the past 15 years that I joined Rotary. I have served the district at various levels and I have been able to associate myself with them. They have been able to know my ability and capacity and right from the point I was nominated, I have been enjoying their co-operation.

How many clubs did you meet on ground and how many are you leaving for your successor?
I met 103 clubs and added four. There are three in the pipeline and I hope we may still be able to get at least two of them chartered before I leave. The good thing is that they too are very eager to be chartered. We tried to be detailed as much as possible because we do not want clubs we would create that would die within one or two years.

We are being careful not to take anyone who after few months or years would withdraw. A ‘wealthy’ man may not be a good Rotarian but a man just managing with a heart to give would be a good Rotarian. It is in the heart. The figure of Rotarians all over the world has remained constant at 1.2 million for years now.

Some have nearly turn Rotary to a human trafficking organisation while others joined because they want to run out of the country since they know that Rotarians travel every year for convention. We want those who want to serve humanity. Some schools of thought advised to establish about seven to ten clubs but I declined because I would rather have new clubs that would stand the test of time of 20, 30 years than those that within three years, would have gone into extinction.

What were some of the projects carried out during your tenure?
One is Igbogbo Vocational Centre, which happened to be the greatest project for me during my tenure. We laid the foundation on October 11, 2017 and commissioned it on May 14 this year. We also discovered that many parts of the two states lack primary health centres. We collaborated with other foreign districts in Brazil and USA to raise funds to the tune of $68,000 for the project. The project has been approved by our foundation.

Very soon, we are going to have eight new primary health centres in Lagos and Ogun states; five in Lagos and three in Ogun. We also did more than 2,000 free cataract surgeries sponsored by three clubs, including Rotary Club of Lagos Palmgrove Estate, which did about 1,500; Rotary Club of Lagos Island, 500 while Rotary Club of Ikoyi also collaborated with Indo Eye Foundation and did between 200 and 300.

There was this eight months baby, the only child of her parents who benefited from the project as well as other adults. I feel a great sense of relief seeing the smiles on the faces of the hundreds of beneficiaries.

What is the relationship between Rotarians and Rotaractors?
They are our youth wing between the ages of 18 and 30 who are preparing to become Rotarians. Many of them are in the universities and polytechnics. Towards grooming them, we recently had Rotaractors – Rotarians conference and we are trying to prepare them for tomorrow’s leadership.

One of our key values as Rotarians is the four-way test. If everybody can truly imbibe the four-way test, both those in leadership at all levels and every Nigerian, the nation would be better for it.

What is the latest on polio eradication?
Rotary alone has spent more than 1.6 billion dollars to eradicate this disease. The hope is there and we would get there. We are very close, Nigeria will soon be out of the remaining three polio endemic countries. This year, districts in Nigeria have contributed more than $330,000 to eradicate polio.

Rotary Foundation
The Rotary Foundation was founded in 1917 while Rotary International started in 1905. Rotary foundation is the engine room of Rotary International. It started as an endowment fund.

It is the vehicle that is used to do good throughout the world. It bounds all Rotarians together and through it big projects are carried out, and through it polio is being fought to its knees.

Every year, we sponsor 100 graduates to study peace and conflict resolutions in six countries in the world for Diplomas and Masters, among other social interventions.

We decided this year that as pacesetters, we want to make a million dollar for the foundation. Despite the foreign exchange rate that has not helped matters, we have been able to raise $500,000, which is about N180 million and we are expecting more from some big Rotarians.

Any project the big donors desire to spend the money on is what we would do. We would manage effectively every donation made. For every dollar donated, 90.1 per cent would be spent on project while 0.9 per cent would be spent on administration among others.

For our contributions to Rotary Foundation, we have different levels. Every Rotarian is expected to contribute a minimum of $100 a year. Anyone that contributes a thousand dollars would be called a Paul Harris Fellow. We have pin that would be given and the certificate would also come from the foundation. It can be used anywhere, especially for tax purposes. Beyond $10,000, we have major gifts. Anyone can donate $25,000 or more as major donors. The pictures of the donors would be at International headquarters of Rotary forever.
By 2025, I want the endowment fund to rise to two billion, two hundred and twenty five million dollars.

Non-Rotarians can also contribute, individuals, Non-governmental Organisations (NGO’s) and others can collaborate with us to do projects. It would be spent accordingly. Every money put under the six areas of focus in Rotary, which include Peace and conflict prevention/resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, and economic and community development.

How would you describe the position of a District Governor?
It comes with great responsibility for whosoever is ready for it. I see it as a position of responsibility to service others, first to the Rotarians and through the Rotarians to others. One has to be a servant to others. We spend our money, time and treasure to serve others. We are volunteers, so a District Governor can only inspire others and not be a boss to other Rotarians. One has to be seen as one with passion to be followed.

What drives your passion for service?
What drives my own passion is that I believe each one of us is here for a purpose and one can only be passionate when he has realized the purpose of why he is living. I derive my joy before being a Rotarian in helping others. I believe I am here to offer help to whosoever needs one. I believe I am a child of God born into the world to serve and help others. That is what fuels my passion to help humanity.

I would like to be remembered as the governor who came, who called himself a pacesetter, who desired to set the pace for the next one hundred years, who was surrounded by love and goodwill and was able to do the best he could to achieve the goal of making a difference in the lives of people around him and beyond.