*Rotary is an invitation to endless opportunities
*My aim was to finish my tenure and hear people saying Jumoke Bamigboye was the best
Chief (Mrs) Jumoke Bamigboye, current Rotary District Governor for District 9125, is the heartthrob of the former Military Administrator in Bauchi and Osun state, Col Theophilus Bamigboye. The beautiful and elegant Chief Jumoke Bamigboye is undoubtedly a lady of many parts.
The wife of former military administrator, turned politician who is a lawyer,and a Magistrate in Kwara judiciary is a great adjudicator and, an apostle of decency and humility.
Mrs Bamigboye is not only a highly committed educationist, she’s also a disciplinarian, an astute administrator, a master planner, a farmer, a valiant entrepreneur, and a staunch naturalist who is well focused, hardworking, and a determined professional.
Among these sterling qualities, Mrs. Jumoke Bamigboye is the first female in the history of that district to occupy the exalted office. Rotarian Jumoke Bamigboye district 9125 constituency covers 23 northern states including FCT. She recently toured her constituency and granted Sunday Vanguard interview in Ilorin on the essence and outcome of her journey.
What was the essence of your tour to the 23 northern states as Rotary governor of District 9125?
Rotarians were like a goal in between. We needed to supply the PPEs, we needed to enlighten people about what covid was about, especially when Nigerians even never wanted to believe there was a covid. So sensitization and surveillance of who has and who does not have was an assignment that had to be carried out.
So we are supporting the frontliners and Nigerians and making sure that everybody gets to know what the covid19 was all about. And in most cases, in all the 23 Northern states we supplied sanitizers, face masks and then the main thing education; letting people know the impact of covid19.
While in Abuja were all out there going from one club to the other. I could see how rotarians were renovating the primary health care centres, police station. I’ve seen Rotarians do water projects, I’ve seen Rotarians go to supply school needs and all.
They’ve done a whole lot this period and by the time I left Abuja, I was really happy that Rotarians in Abuja, actually impacted the community there and opened opportunities for members of the communities. So I left for Abuja to kano through Kaduna.
I went to Kaduna, its the same story everywhere, they are doing all they can within their limited resources to assist govt to impact on their community. I saw a club that donated school desk, to a primary school in Kaduna. I also saw one that fixed an orphanage home with computers and ICT and materials to expose them to the E world that we are.
I left Kaduna and went to Kano, the same story. So I went to Kano, headed down towards Jos, Plateau State, it was the same thing and I want to give my appreciation to the First Lady of Plateau state for a wonderful reception, being ready to partner with Rotary to reach out to the community.
I left that and was also in Bauchi state. Wonderful governor, he also is partnering with Rotarians to see that we impact the community. I went to Gombe, the same thing and I want to also give kudos to the emir of Katungo for his wonderful reception and for making us feel at home.
We have just one club in Katungo but the impact was felt right from where we entered the town, we knew that those in the community were receptive to Rotary and that is because of what they are doing to impact the community. The same thing the Emir of Daz, wonderful reception.
And then we’ve gone up to Jalingo, same thing and we’ve gone to Niger state, Osogbo, Oyo and we have very pleasant experience in Ibadan axis and they are doing wonderfully well in all areas of focus. Don’t forget we have seven areas of focus: Maternal and Child Health, Peace building and Conflict Resolution, Community economic development, Water sanitation and hygiene, Basic education and literacy, and protecting the environment.
All these areas of focus, Rotarians are reaching out and making an impact in their communities and opening opportunities to their communities.
In specific terms, can you please tell us some of these projects you commissioned in the course of your tour?
I’ve mentioned all of them. I commissioned a water project, and many others I earlier highlighted.
What is your relationship with the state government? Covering 23 states, is there any difference among those governors you visited in those states?
I’ve mentioned some of the governors I met and while on the visit, rotary enjoys good relationships with the governors. Don’t forget when we had the issue of the stability of Polio vaccine, we ran to the governors forum to say they should talk to the people that they need to accept the vaccine because initially, it was a problem accepting it.
Some people believe the rotary wanted to sterilize people, reduce population and the rest. So we needed to run to them to help us with advocacy and right from the moment I’ve been having very cordial relations with the governors.
I just mentioned the Bauchi state governor, the wonderful reception he and his wife gave me. Kebbi state, he was there with us throughout the visit and really supported us. We also went to Kano and Ekiti states. So we have a very good working relationship with the Governor’s Forum and the governors.
How does the COVID-19 pandemic impact rotary to fight Polio?
What I can say is that our fighting polio and fighting polio to a standstill in Nigeria has also impacted our fight against covid19, because you can see that fighting covid19 basically is not just about identifying who has. It is also about addressing those they have had contact with.
So the surveillance system we use in fighting polio is the same thing they are using in fighting COVID-19 through contact tracing and all that. So the structures we had in place when we were fighting polio is what has really helped Nigeria to fight covid19 to this point.
So each day we see some numbers on the television, we get scared. Can you imagine how many millions of people we would have had as victims of the covid19 virus in Nigeria If we did not start the way we started to fight covid19?
We would have been having serious issues on our hands. So I give credit to the government of the day, the NCDC for setting the template from the beginning on how to fight covid19. So, the same structure we use for polio is what we are still using in covid19.
It is the same thing we used to Ebola that we were able to stop Ebola from entering Nigeria. So you can see we all work hand in hand. We can’t separate one from the other.
Talking about Rotary as a club, what perception do you think the public has about Rotary and what is it supposed to be?
People see Rotary from two perspectives. Some people say Rotary is a cult. Even when I wanted to join Rotary, someone told my mother, her daughter is about to join a cult. But rotary is not a cult. We don’t have secret meetings. If there is any group that is transparent it is Rotary, because guests are welcome to our meetings.
So there is nothing occultic about Rotary. Some people said Rotary is a religious organization that is trying to promote Christianity. Rotary is non-religious, non-political, even though members on their own private lives are into one thing or the other. But it does not affect Rotary.
We don’t discuss politics at meetings, we don’t discuss religious beliefs in Rotary meetings. We are not religious and we are not a political organization. Rotary is a humanitarian organization, we are using the little we have to impact our communities. I went to Jalingo, the pressman said when he grew up he knew Rotary to be a club of very rich people and I said it is not.
Rotary is a club for people that are rich in heart, those that are willing to give out. And I also want to say this, Rotary is not just a club it is an invitation to endless opportunities. What I can tell people out there that are not Rotarians, they can never imagine what they are missing; leadership, professional development, enhancement of businesses and most importantly, networking.
We have over one point two million Rotarians across the world. And so if you are a Rotarian, you can imagine having one point two million friends and you never can tell the opportunities that are waiting for you to have into. Please join Rotary.
You said Rotary has endless opportunities, I want you to be more explicit about that.
Opportunities for professional development, leadership; look at me, a very shy girl from a humble background, leading 23 states and I can talk to anybody in the world. Rotary has given me that leadership quality that I can stand up anywhere and talk without any fear.
You can imagine if you are an electrical engineer and that you have electrical engineers across all the countries that we have Rotary. You can never imagine what opportunity that is waiting for you. You have people of like minds that you can network with, you get to open your business just beyond the shores of Nigeria and all that. Rotary is for professionals, community leaders, business persons. Those are the opportunities in progress.
Getting to this status in Rotary, what were the challenges?
To get to the office of a District governor, you must do immense commitment and dedication. It does not just drop on the table, it’s a build-up of years of hard work, transparent service, dedication. That’s what has happened over my 30 years of being in the family.
For you to get to this opportunity, it’s not just an opportunity you get with money, what you do in Rotary speak for you. When it gets to this point, everyone will look at your track record. So its years of dedication and commitment that really brought me here.
As a district governor, what difference do you want to make in this office?
What I never told you is that I am the first woman to occupy this office in my district. And so what do I want to bring? I want to make a great difference, I want the world to believe that a woman can do it. I want to leave a trail for any woman that wants to come to this office to see that it is what she can do.
I don’t want to finish and people will say they gave me an opportunity and I couldn’t do anything. Above all, I want to use Rotary to create an impact in my community. Women, children, those are always my first love as a mother. I want to go to Bauchi state and feel at home because of what I’ve done there.
I want to go to Plateau state and I want to look back and see a track of achievement so that’s what I want. My aim is to finish and hear people say Jumoke Bamigboye was the best governor. The year 2020 was tough but we made it. That’s what the world wants to hear.
As a mother, you must have surely dedicated a lot of attention, motherhood and all that. Do you want any of your children or siblings to be a part of Rotary?
My husband is a Rotarian. In fact, my last born goes everywhere with me as far as Rotary is concerned. If I have a way of donating the whole of my family to Rotary, I will gladly do it because rotary has impacted me positively and I want to see that same impact on my children so I will gladly do that.
What advice do you have for the members of the public with respect to their perceptions about Rotary? How many percent of Nigerians do you wish should join Rotary?
For the members of the public, government cannot do it all. It is only in Nigeria that we sit that government should do everything for us. Government cannot do it all, we need to come together and help our people, our community, impact their lives. And how can you do it? You have a platform like Rotary.
You know where your money is, you
know what your money is doing and most importantly, you get to know those that benefit from what you are doing. Now there’s are so many of our people out there that have the money, but have not inculcated this idea of giving part of it to helping the community.
Those of them who think of doing that, you send the money to the wrong hands. You give money to somebody to do something for you and the person doesn’t do it or he goes and does a shady job and then the community doesn’t benefit from it. But when you are in Rotary, whatever money you put goes straight into what you want it to be used for. And quality jobs would be done and it would impact positively on your community.
So what will you rather do? Won’t you rather want us to be together to do this work? You can imagine five people will wait to do a job, and the burden on them but if you have so many people come together to do that job, it becomes lighter. Our government needs us to support the government, our community needs us to support the community. So I want to call on well-meaning Nigerians wherever you are, find a rotary club and join.
Those who are not well-meaning Nigerians, what advice do you have to them?
I will not talk about anybody that is not well-meaning or what do you call it. Nigerians naturally outside rotary are known to be very accommodating, known to be people who can give.
So why won’t you want to be in the club when you know that what they do is humanitarianism? So I’m calling on all Nigerians including you to join rotary and create the impact.
Covid-19 is real and still all over the world. What is your advice to us on it?
Covid-19 is very real. It’s next to us. Initially, we were saying there’s no covid19 in Nigeria. I remember one time I watched a television programme and some Nigerians were saying show us those in the isolation ward, but now there are names, there are faces that we know.
We know people who have suffered from covid19. we know those who have died from it and so I keep telling people it is better to be safe, better for you to be on your mask than for you to be in an isolation ward battling with death.
It is better for you to go on with your sanitizers, it is best for you to observe social distancing. And above all, all of us Nigerians should advocate and tell everybody that covid19 is real.