Soboma Ajumogobia: A Rotarian’s Call to Service


Last weekend, Soboma Ajumogobia, the younger brother of former foreign affairs minister of state, Odein, was installed as the 51st President of the Rotary Club of Lagos. Samuel Ajayi reports that the calibre of those who witnessed Soboma’s investiture was an indication of the fact that truly, the Club is the number one Rotary Club in the country

A s Soboma Ajumogobia, the newly installed President of the Rotary Club of Lagos, adjusted his bow tie over a suit blazers of black top and white trousers to complement an evening that was his by all standards, he must have concluded that being Rotarian is much more than attending Rotary events or project commissioning. It is also appreciated via the kinds of event of Friday July 7 this year at the classy Metropolitan Club by Kofo Abayomi, Victoria Island. It was a gathering of crème de la crème of the society as they came together to witness the investiture of Ajumogobia as the 51st president of Club.

Accompanying Ajumogobia to the event was his delectable wife, Rita, a high court judge. It was not the dressing of Ajumogobia that defined the evening but the quality of those who graced the occasion. On hand to chair the occasion was former top banker but now the chairman of Main One Cable Limited, Fola Adeola. Adeola, a former chairman of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, told the gathering that his contact with Rotary movement could be traced back to when he was a pupil of Saint David’s  Anglican Primary School on Lagos Island when one Rotary club used to meet at a place very close to his school.

“I used to see them,” the former banker stated as he give his speech during the investiture. “They had impact on me and I promised that when I grew up, I would always help Rotarians any way I can.”

For Adeola, that was the beginning of his romance with Rotary movement and he told those who were present at the gathering that being at that occasion was not really convenient for him as he just came to the country the night before. But because he could not just say no to Ajumogobia, he had to be present at the occasion.

Admonishing the new president of the Rotary Club of Lagos, he said the new position was a call to service and he would be holding the position in trust as he would only be “first among equals.” In the same vein, he said the name Ajumogobia did not belong to him, Soboma, but he was holding it in trust; hence the need to protect that name.

Perhaps, Adeola had his reasons. Ajumogobia was assuming the leadership of a rotary club that was not only rich in history but also boasts of illustrious past presidents, both alive and from here departed. The first president of the Club was the late Chief S.L Edu, a Lagosian of repute and father of Chief Yomi Edu. In fact, the late Edu was the pioneer president of the Club between 1961 and 1962. Another past president was the late Chief H.O Davies. Davies was president between 1965 and 1966. Another late past president was J. Akin-George who was president between 1971 and 1972. Among living past president was a lady lawyer, Hairat Balogun, though president between 2012 and 2013, she was the first female president of the Club. Adeniyi Sowemimo, the current director of projects of the Club, was president between 2005 and 2006, while Larry Agose, former corporate affairs adviser of brewing giants, Nigerian Breweries Plc, was president between 2015 and 2016 and was succeeded by Gladys Sasore, a lawyer and former presidential adviser, who was the second female president of the Club who interestingly was the one who handed over to Ajumogobia last week.

With this rich presidential succession heritage, Ajumogobia had his job cut out for him to surpass these illustrious past presidents in the area of projects execution. But anyone who knows Ajumogobia would attest to the fact that he was more than capable of meeting expectations and surpassing them.

 Born on December 1st, 1963, Ajumogobia, a native of present day Rivers State, had the best upbringing anyone of his generation would always dream of. He had his early education at Corona School in Lagos and later attended the prestigious Government College, Umuhahia, in present day Abia State. Soboma, as his colleagues like to call him, actually completed his secondary education in Tanzania as his father, who was then with UNESCO, had been transferred to that East African country.

The new President of Rotary Club of Lagos attended the University of Salford, in Manchester, United Kingdom, where he bagged a bachelor’s degree in Biology but also with double honours in Physiology and Zoology. Soboma started as a banker with Chase Merchant Bank Limited, the Nigerian affiliate of Chase Manhattan Bank in New York, in the United States of America.

Ajumogobia had risen through the ranks in his chosen career and today he is a management consultant and he runs his own outfit. Perhaps, the Club could not have had a better president that the younger brother of former minister of state for foreign affairs, Odein Ajumogobia, who was also on hand to honour his younger brother with his presence during the night of the investiture.

The new president will be inheriting the leadership of a Club that is steeped in the Rotary tradition of service to humanity. From Randle Avenue School in Surulere to Ansar Ud Deen Primary School, Isolo; Community Primary School, Ilupeju, to Lagos Model College, Agbowa, Ikorodu, all in Lagos, Rotary Club of Lagos has always invested in building the lives of the nation’s future leaders for positive development. For instance, the Lab-in-a-Box Project which the Club started last year was meant to ease the learning of sciences in secondary school, especially in the junior classes. The Club donated a complete set of tools to Lagos State Model College, Agbowa, Ikorodu, in May this year.

In the area of community intervention and human development, Ita Marun, a small village of Epe Expressway along the state Free Trade Zone, stands out as an example of Rotary’s contribution to humanity. A village of less than a thousand people, Ita Marun is a classical example of being close to opulence but living in abject neglect. With no water or electricity, people of the village were left to their own devices in making something out of life. This was until the intervention of the Rotary Club of Lagos which donated an industrial borehole, solar powered street lights, incinerator and a palm kernel extracting machine for the women of the village whose main vocation is palm kernel extraction. The Club also organised an interest-free micro credit scheme for the women of the village.

–This is the Club Ajumogobia would be leading in the next one year. And the calibre of guests at his investiture was a testimony of a Rotary club with a difference.