By Morenike Taire
Thereâ€™s no doubt about it: the Rotary Club is a pack of leaders, and from amongst these leaders has emerged a new leader for the Rotary club of Lekki Phase 1. On Saturday the 26th of September 2009, Dr. Josiah Ebhomenye-a man of no mean achievement and reputation as well as the Managing Director of Research International Market Trends, a foremost market research organization in Nigeria_ was installed as the 3rd president of the Club at the Golden Gate Restaurant, Ikoyi Lagos amongst friends, family and other notable Nigerians.
Rotarian Ebhomenye, who had been elected since last year, avers that the Rotary club has never suffered the succession crises usually associated with change of power in government. According to him, succession is arranged in such a way as to make crises impossible, since presidents are elected, agreed upon and tested a year before they are actually sworn in.
Asked why this is so, he suggests it is because Rotary is a charitable organization whose members work for the common good and calls on government to borrow from this. Excerpts:-
People tend to think of the Rotary club as an elitist organization. Is this perception right or wrong?
The reason people think this is that to be a member of the Rotary club you have to have a number of things at hand.
You have to have the time and you have to have the resources and because the motive of Rotary is to help the less privileged you canâ€™t help the less privileged with an empty pocket. You canâ€™t become a Rotarian without the ability to help. Another reason is that people hardly know about Rotary because itâ€™s not publicized.
They donâ€™t come out to publicize themselves. You can only know about Rotary from what theyâ€™ve done for society.
What is the essence of all that, or is Rotary a kind of government on its own?
(laughs) Itâ€™s a meeting of like minds. There are some people in the world; unless they do good they will not be able to sleep well.
Even in Nigeria we have people who are willing to help others. You have to have the milk of human kindness in your heart. If you have achieved so much as a person you should be able to say let me extend a bit of my resources to people who canâ€™t have them.
Yours is a relatively new club. Why a new one, why not simply join an old one?
Having to travel will make it inconvenient for you. Rotary looks round the environment Â for example, Lagos and try to identify areas where there are no (Rotary) clubs.
People move from one place to another. There were Rotarians before who were in Ikeja, Shomolu, and so on. Having relocated to Lekki they feel itâ€™s more convenient to have their own Lekki branch rather than travel.
There is no limit to the number of Rotary clubs you can have anywhere in the world including Nigeria. The essence is service to mankind.
Do you need any special approval, whether from the District governor or anywhere?
There are rules which you have to abide with. For example the president has some rules to study. If you have memorandum for organizing meetings you have to study that. They will send a trainer to hold meetings with you depending on the frequency of meetings and he starts to take you through the rules and regulations. The president has some rules.
You seem to have so many female members. It was not so long ago that Rotary started admitting women.
Youâ€™re right. Initially it was the Rotarians who were mainly men, then you had the Wheelers. They are still there.
If you like you join the womenâ€™s group and if you like you join the men. I think itâ€™s the location. If you look at them a lot of them are bankers, engineers and so on and you find most businesses in VI and Lekki areas so itâ€™s easier for them to come than other places.
I was more worried, actually, about the others who donâ€™t have so many. One should think the situation in your club is what should be and not the exception.
I think people should commend us for that because during the meeting we had at the District Office a lot of clubs were actually begging for people to help them to get women into their clubs but weâ€™re lucky that we have a lot of women. Weâ€™re recruiting more women.
Do they have any special function?
No, the same. Once youâ€™re in Rotary whether youâ€™re a man or a woman you have the same function.
Are there any special advantages? Some people say women are better managers.
Thereâ€™s no special advantage. If a lady is elected president fine, she may even do better than the men but for the time beingâ€¦
In your acceptance speech you listed so many projects to do. Donâ€™t you think theyâ€™re too many for a year?
Rotary recommends continuity, which is why itâ€™s different from government. When you appoint a president or minister they start something, another one comes in and starts another thing.
For example, the school weâ€™re looking after. If you want to provide a borehole, you provide exercise books, computers and if at the end of one year you could not finish everything the person succeeding you will continue.
Even in the avenue of service. Each person is responsible for doing something like project service director. Between two or three years he should remain so that his project will be concluded. We will do what we can within one year and then another person will take over.
Is the 4-Way Test really workable? For instance I was wondering, is it really possible to be fair to all concerned at the same time?
This is the difference between being in Rotary and being in another organization. It is one of the key principles of being a Rotarian. Once you are called a Rotarian itâ€™s believed that youâ€™re above board. Youâ€™re honest in everything you do. Iâ€™d be very surprised to see a Rotarian being caught for corruption.
Personally, sir, what are your guiding principles in your private as well as your business life?
My principle is very simple. Everything I do I want to be successful. At the same time I want to be sure that people weâ€™re dealing with are happy and they benefit from what I am teaching them or what Iâ€™m able to deliver. Thatâ€™s my mission.
Rotary has been involved for a long time in the kick polio program. Weâ€™ve had problems in Nigeria. Is Rotary doing anything about that?
One of the things Rotary is supposed to be doing is prosecuting the Polio program. 10 years ago we had over 25 countries in the world that were polio infected while now there are only 4_ Pakistan, India, Nigeria and Afghanistan.