Linus Aleke :
The activities of Rotary Club International have been acknowledged and eulogized by government, corporate bodies, benefiting communities and individuals across the globe.
Unlike government establishments that are sometimes accused of marginalization and partiality, Rotary has maintained its unbiased stance as beneficiaries of its benevolence cut across races, religion and political persuasions.
Nonetheless a fierce debate has trailed the perceived factors that may have given birth to their activities across the globe.
While some posits that their existence as a nonprofit organization is born out of genuine motive and intentions to provide assistance to less privilege individuals and communities around the world.
Others attribute it to failures of government to live up to its true responsibilities of providing basic amenities, security and quality education to its citizenry, more especially the third world nations.
However supporters of the former were quick to pick hole in the argument of the later when they observed that the presence of Rotary clubs in virtually all nations of the world invalidates the postulation that government’s ineptitude gave raise to rotary activities in developing countries.
Advancing this school of thought further, the District Governor Rotary 9125 Dr. Mike Omotosho said that though government of some third world nations may have performed below expectation, Rotary club is relevant in every clime no matter how developed and efficient the government may seem.
He noted that Rotary is that gift to humanity which brings together men and women of like minds who maintain optimum interpersonal relationships through leadership development, act with integrity, serve with love and work for peace.
Rotarian according to him, “advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, support of education, alleviation of poverty, eradication of polio, and provision of scholarship and portable water.”
He equally explained that the over 1.3 million Rotarian across the globe believe that it is only on truth and fairness that goodwill and permanent friendship can be built for the benefit of all humanity.”
Also validating the argument of those who said workings of Rotary Club International are born out of sincere motive to serve humanity is this quote from scripture.
“Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at table. But when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, ‘why this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for a large sum, and given to the poor’ but Jesus aware of this said to them, ‘why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me, for you will always have the poor with you but you will not… (Mathew 26; 6-11)”
Those were the words of the greatest teacher and master that ever lived on the surface earth. ‘You will always have the poor with you’ does not preclude developed nations. So the question begging for answers is whether the ever widening gap between the have and have-not is pre-ordained by God or just the creation of a bad system of thing. I guess the above quote provides a valid answer.
However the chronicle of humanity is no doubt inconclusive without the episodes on widespread poverty, incessant warfare, hunger and deprivation, malnutrition, illiteracy, homelessness, absence of portable water, epileptic power supply, insecurity, corruption, and perennial outbreak of deadly diseases among many other tales of woes.
Nevertheless, the above listed phenomenal seems to be worse in developing nations as funds budgeted annually to address some of those inundating challenges are stolen, salted away and diverted into private pockets. Meanwhile concerted efforts to recover some of these looted funds in the past were unsuccessful.
In Nigeria for instance, a huge percentage of the populations and corporations are government unto themselves. This is because they provide their basic amenities, such as electricity, borehole to provide portable water, private security, clinics and schools, etc to themselves. This is all because government had failed in her primary responsibility and duties to the citizenry.
In some rural or semi urban centers where the inhabitants are not able to provide these basic social amenities to themselves, they resort to drinking dirty waters from flowing rivers or stagnant streams or well. Contend with darkness at night fall and suffer in penury without hope in sight.
A scenario some observers alleged is responsible for incessant outbreak of communicable diseases which often times claim lives of many in the process.
It is nonetheless in realization of the need to assist these vulnerable groups that some non-profit and voluntary organizations are going out of their way to fill this huge gap created by these government inefficiencies.
One of such organizations that have provided and still providing succor to the inhabitants of FCT is the Rotary Club International.
Recounting some of their effort at giving back to the society, the President, Rotary Club of Abuja Metro Mr. Mike Tyonongu Kohol said that the club has successfully built schools, clinic and recreational facilities to some rural communities within the territory as part of the association’s resolve to better the lives of the less privilege in the country.
According to him, “First and foremost our activities in Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have affected the lives of many within the environs. Before we adopted Surka village as our focal point, the inhabitants of the area were drinking from a running river. We sank borehole for them to meet their need for clean drinking water. We also discussed with the community leaders on ways to meet their other needs such as healthcare, education and recreational needs.
“As we speak, we have constructed a primary school, clinic and a football pitch for the community. In addition to that, we have also given micro credit to members of the community through a Micro Finance Institution owned by one of our member without recourse to hurdles of providing collateral, and that has improved their lives tremendously.”
On the worrisome situation of the Internally Displaced Persons in most camps in Abuja following the insurgency in the north east and the need to provide relieve materials to supplement government effort, the Rotarian expressed displeasure at the organization of the camps.
His words, “We personally reached out to these IDPs but there is a little problem with the organization of the camps. The camps are not permanent, therefore the only meaningful relieve you can give them on the interim is just food and water. The property they are living-in is owned by different persons. Thirdly, the day you are prepared to visit the camp with the view to providing some immediate succor and relieve, all the people doing menial jobs around the vicinity will flood the camp.
“If the IDPs were 100 originally in a camp, on the day you are scheduled to visit the camp with relieve materials, all the labourer working around the place will metamorphose into IDPs and you will find over 4 to 500 persons. Meanwhile you have planned for only 100 so what do you do with the remaining 300?
“So it is a serious problem because identifying the real displaced persons from the crowd becomes a huge challenge. We have tried to collaborate with NEMA so that anything we provide will get to the real people it is meant for; this is because we cannot overstretch our strength.
“Therefore we are still waiting for NEMA, particularly the Zonal Director, Mr. Chonoko to fashion out a blueprint on how to identify the real IDPs and get back to us. We have also spoken to few of the abducted Chibok girls who earlier escaped from their captors and we are working out plans to equally offer them some assistance to continue their education.”
Giving credence to the aforesaid philanthropic gesture of Rotary club, the Charter President, Rotary Club of Abuja Metro noted that the club has contributed more in the area of health.
“There are over 20 rotary clubs in Abuja. My club the rotary club of Abuja Metro, have provided dialysis machines for the two tertiary health institutions in FCT, i.e. the National Hospital and University Teaching Hospital Abuja. To assist people with kidney ailment who cannot travel abroad for treatment to be treated with the medical equipment. There are other hospitals and institutions that have also benefited from the humanitarian benevolence of Rotary Club across the territory.
“We are instrumental to the eradication of polio in the country. That is in addition to our effort in ensuring a reduction in maternal and infant mortality. Providing assistance to handicapped children; working hard in the area of malaria prevention, providing classroom blocks to some rural communities in Abuja amongst many other humanitarian activities. What rotary does is basically to fight poverty, illiteracy and underdevelopment.” He explained.
In concluding this write up, a quote from an Igbo adage is apt it says “If you eulogize a warrior for doing well, he will strive to do more.” Therefore, Rotary Club International and particularly Rotary Club Abuja Metro deserve the commendation of all.