COVID-19 is a plague for some and an opportunity for others —President,Rotary Club of Ikeja


Dotun Lampejo, the Managing partner of Lampejo Solicitors, a commercial law firm in Lagos, is the current Opportunities President of Rotary Club of Ikeja Lagos, whose appointment came during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With characteristic optimism and confidence In 50 yrs of our existence, no Rotarian has been publicly disgraced, he talks about what Rotary Club is all about and how it impacts the society, aspects of the Nigerian judicial system and related issues.

Congratulations on your Investiture as the 53rd President of Rotary Club of Ikeja. How do you feel and will you say it is dreams come through?

Becoming Rotary President is a call to service, and becoming the President of Rotary Club of Ikeja is also humbling, taking into account the calibre of the past Presidents of the Club.  These past Presidents’ performance and achievements have been stellar and one has to deliver the high standards the club is accustomed to.  No excuses!

With the on the 53rd anniversary of your club, Rotary Club of Ikeja and the launching of your club magazine, The Ikeja Wheel, what milestones in few words has the club had in 53 years?

Rotary Club of Ikeja was the eight Rotary Club in Nigeria and the second in Lagos and the District after the Rotary Club of Lagos. Rotary Club of Ikeja was formed by business leaders and CEOs of companies operating in Ikeja

In 1967,  Rotarian Phillip Dudeney, a member of the Rotary Club of Port Harcourt in the then Eastern Nigeria was transferred to Ikeja.  He discussed with his friend Rot A.S. Guobadia of the Rotary Club of Lagos, the possibility of creating a club at Ikeja.  After contacting R.I on the same issue, R.I authorized the duo to conduct a survey not only of the area but also of the possible candidates for Rotary.  Most of the people contacted were at that time members of the Rotary Club of Lagos.  As a result of his survey, a provisional Rotary Club was formed with 25 members.  A charter was eventually granted to the provisional Rotary Club of Ikeja on 31st August, 1967.

The Charter President of Rotary Club of Ikeja  was Chief Joe Harold who among other honours, had the traditional chieftaincy title of the Basapa of Otta in 1964 an CBE in 1966.

Today  53 years later, it can be said that Rotary club of Ikeja has made its impact in the Rotary World.

The Club remains a veritable reservoir from which the highest level of leadership in Rotary in Nigeria has been drawing.  The Club has sponsored other Clubs.  Till date a generational offspring of 60 Rotary Clubs in District 9110 have their roots and origins traced to the Rotary club of Ikeja.  No other club can boast of such a number of children.  Indeed, the Rotary Club of Ikeja can look back with pride on the 53 years of its existence.  It is our wish that the next 53 years will witness an even more positively meaningful and fruitful epoch within the /club, its members, its immediate community Ikeja and indeed our dear nation Nigeria.

We currently have a membership strength of 51. In our fifty three years of existence, the Rotary Club of Ikeja has developed externally to become a family of over 60 Clubs (including the Ikeja Club).

The Ikeja Club formed eight Clubs (the children) the youngest of which was Sagamu Central Chartered on 31st January 2003 and about 6 Clubs sponsored 22 others (the grand Children).  These 22 Clubs sponsored 22 other Clubs (the great grandchildren) and these in turn sponsored eight new Clubs (the great, great grandchildren). The Club, even though now a Great-Great Grandmother is still having children. On her 53rd Birthday, she still gave birth to Rotary Club of Ikeja- Alausa, chartered on 31st August 2020!

fifty- four of 61 of these Clubs together with the Ikeja Club share the original territorial area of the Ikeja Club.

The Rotary Club of Ikeja came second in the overall ranking just as you took over the presidency. What is the essence of this ranking and how do you intend to improve it during your tenure?

Rotary club of Ikeja has done very well. We did very well in all the six areas of focus. All Rotary clubs in Nigeria are divided into districts. This particular district is District 9110 comprising of all the over 104 Rotary clubs in Lagos and Ogun States.  Rotary club of Ikeja came second in the district and we won awards in nearly all categories. We contributed substantially to the Rotary Foundation, which is the body that amongst other projects deals with the eradication of polio.

Last year, our club and friends donated about US$34,000 to the Rotary Foundation.

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How do you measure success in your intervention initiatives?

We do this by how much we impact the society. It is not all about giving money but meeting the needs of the society. Of course, we look at all the seven areas of focus, Water and Sanitation, Child and Maternal Health, Basic education and Literary, Peace building and Conflict resolution,  Planet Earth and the Environment and others. You have to be an all-rounder as a club to win an award and then of course, your contribution to the Rotary Foundation is also key.

Are there particular things you have accomplished and what other things do you want to accomplish during your tenure as president?

It’s early days yet. This year we have already participated in the Planet Earth and Environment Project, by planting trees, we have donated empowerment tools to indigent artisans in the Ikorodu area like sewing machines, grinder and hairdryers and washers to enable the recipients start their own businesses. We have also donated food and sanitation materials to the Modupe Cole Home for the handicapped. We visited the Ikeja Junior Secondary School with an Optometrist to conduct eye tests for the students and provided free eye glasses to students and two teachers. We have a long list of other projects we intend to undertake this Rotary year, including the provision of interest free microcredit finance to young traders to start their own businesses.

Disease prevention and treatment is one of the areas of focus of Rotary Club. How has that played out in the light of COVID-19?

The situation is completely different now all over the world and everyone is learning about COVID-19, even the more advanced societies that we thought had all the facilities are not faring many better. It is a new challenge thrown at the whole world from the blues. No one is disadvantaged, we are all just learning about the virus. They are beginning to think that maybe in Africa we have more resistance because we are more exposed to the sun, and are not Vitamin D deficient. That may be why it is so severe for blacks resident abroad as they cannot synthesise Vitamin D efficiently in that climate because of their dark skins. Everybody is learning and we have to face it.  Those who will survive will be those people who can manage change. What is a plague to some is an opportunity for others. We have a team in the Rotary Club of Ikeja completely focussed on identifying the opportunities in this plague, taking advantage of themand adapting to this new normal!

It cannot be business as usual. No one could in November last year have imagined how highly in-demand and relevant Zoom would have been in our lives today, everyone would otherwise have bought shares in Zoom. So it is an opportunity for zoom, and a plague for others like those in travel and hospitality businesses.  It is a learning curve for everyone and we will take that challenge and make the best of it all.

What was the attraction to becoming a Rotarian?

When I came to Rotary, I did not even know what Rotary was all about. I was introduced to Rotary club of Ikeja in 2002 by the late Akin Olawore of blessed memory who later became the President of the Nigerian- British Chamber of Commerce.  I went for a few meetings and liked the people and was also impressed with some of the guest speakers at the meetings. I also knew quite several members who were already there, so I decided to join. I got involved in a number of activities and it became a way of life. You identify with the ideals of service. Rotarians usually do not misbehave, especially Rotarians of the class we have in the Ikeja club. We are men of integrity who identify with the ideals of Rotary. You internalise the ideals of Rotary without consciously doing so, and you just realise that you cannot do certain things; not even for fear of such things being heard, but because of you and the values you have. I like to learn and experience new things, so I always ask questions, maybe because of my science based background. Curiosity led me to the club and I believe that if we get people in power into Rotary, Nigeria will be a much better place with Rotarians in positions of authority.

You could then have been a scientist instead of a lawyer?

I was a science student and entered the university with science subjects mostly. I was the best chemistry and biology student in secondary school and also in my A Levels. I gained admission to read Law with my Science A levels. In those days all that was required for a Law admission were very good A levels in any subject and a Credit in English.

Was there another profession you aspired to belong to?

I wanted to be many things; doctor, pharmacist, architect, astronomer, and I am still interested in all those areas. I am passionate about astronomy and I follow it. I love research and like to try a number of things. I believe all these have impacted my career as a lawyer.

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How do you think the Rotary Club can be further projected for people to see it for what it really is?

We need the media to propagate what we’re doing. We need to be aggressive in getting our message out. Last year we tried with our publicity and this year we are really going out. We want people to ask questions about Rotary. We need to tell people what we are and what we stand for. We must bring our ideals and actions in sync with the four-way test of Rotary. Is it the truth?  is it fair to all concerned? Will it promote goodwill and friendship among us? Is it beneficial to all concerned. There are so many potential Rotarians in the society and we need them to join Rotary.

How does someone become a member of the Rotary Club?

You simply attend our meetings for a while and if you like the fellowship you can indicate your interest in joining the club. Rotary Club of Ikeja meets at Airport Hotel Ikeja on Mondays 12.30 for 1 pm and meetings last an hour.

Right now, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have most of our meetings on-line via zoom. Rotary club of Ikeja is special because we have introduced some standards therein. It is the only Paul Harris club. You become a Paul Harris Fellow when you contribute a thousand dollars to Rotary Foundation for the eradication of polio and other health related projects. It is the Club’s policy that every member be a Paul Harris Fellow. We also have quite a number of Major Donors who have contributed at least $10,000 to Rotary Foundation. This is not at all a requirement for membership of Rotary. Most Rotary Clubs do not do Paul Harris, and require only their membership dues.

To be a member of Rotary Club of Ikeja you must be of good character and the reason we don’t admit members until they have fellowshipped with us for a while is for other members to be at least acquainted with the prospective member and to ensure that such a person identifies with the ideals of Rotary. We have never had any of our members publicly disgraced in our 50 years of existence and nobody wants to be the first.

How do you balance work, Rotary presidency and the family?

Wow! Not easy! The way we run Rotary Club of Ikeja, it is almost a full time job. When you become a president of this club, it is a big sacrifice. It is very tasking but God has a way of compensating. It might seem as though your business may suffer, yet it is very fulfilling when you see smiles on the faces of beneficiaries of our projects.

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