Interviewed by Funke Olaode
Can we have an insight to your background?
I was born in Lagos and I am married into a popular family in Lagos, the Sasores. My father was a medical doctor. I attended St. Gordric’s College, Hampstead London, I studied Law at University of Lagos, and I was also at the University of London and attended the Harvard Law School where I completed a programme on Negotiation. So, I am an advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitration, UK, and an accredited mediator of the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution, UK. I currently work in a law firm as an associate.
Would you say your parents influenced who you are today?
It was a privileged beginning. When I returned from England, I worked at Lever Brothers, Portland Cement Company. I later studied Law at the University of Lagos and started practicing as a lawyer. I served the nation in different capacities: as special adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on exports programme. I was appointed Director-General of Nigerian Export Promotion.
How do you feel becoming the President of Rotary Club of Lagos?
I was invited to the club by Mrs. Hairat Balogun in 2008. I have been active since I joined this noble gathering. I am happy particularly when one knows what the club stands for. For me, it is an opportunity to serve the less the privileged. I served as chairman of Micro Credit Committee which grants loans to small scale operations. In July, we organised micro finance credit for Sangrouse Market traders and the butchers later joined them. Today, the micro-credit fund has enormous growth of 1500 per cent.
As president what are your plans?
In the Rotary Club, we have a theme for each month. For instance, our theme for September is basic education and illiteracy. We recognise education as the bedrock of development in any society. It is obvious that education at the basic level is the first step towards creating a community aware of its rights and enabled to take advantage of economic opportunities that abound. Recently, our club has just obtained the Lagos state government approval to carry out a pilot project called ‘Lab-in-a-Box’. This is in collaboration with JANYAA Foundation of India. It is aimed at improving the knowledge of secondary students in Science and Mathematics. We also plan to promote the reading culture.
Why are you so passionate about humanity considering your comfortable background?
I know that all fingers are not equal. Under our economic/community development project, we have adopted Itamarun, a village on the outskirt of Lagos at Lekki Free Zone. It is a local community that is in need of basic amenities. For instance, they don’t have electricity there and drinkable water. It is a beautiful setting situated in a coastal area that is overseeing the high sea. We first visited the place on a sanitation day and taught them how to keep their environment clean.
We swept the entire village with them. We built an incinerator for them. I was chairman of economic and community development, I saw that the major occupation of the women is trade in palm kernel which they cracked by hand. I asked them how long it takes to fill one drum and they said 10 days. I knew that they needed help. So, I arranged with my team and we got them a palm kernel cracking machine. This project of the Rotary Club of Lagos was a major empowerment tool for the local women. We asked them to form themselves into a cooperative which they did. We built and installed mechanised palm kernel cracking centre for them and a drum of palm kernel that used to take them 10 days to fill now lasts a few hours.
If you can rate your satisfaction with life, out of 10 what would you score yourself?
I will score myself seven over 10. I believe there is room for an improvement.
If you could turn back the hand of time are there things you would do differently?
I don’t have regrets. I wish I had joined the Rotary Club earlier. I also wish I had started law much earlier, as a profession.
What is your philosophy of life?
Giving my all in whatever I am doing. Love the neighbour as thyself; support and take care of others. Always strive to assist the humanity. This is one of the purposes of existence.