The newly elected President of Rotary Club of Lagos Island, Rotarian Sanjeev Tandon in this interview with Ugo Aliogo, spoke about the new position and plans to build on the legacies of his predecessors
What are your plans for this new position?
We are having a couple of projects which we are going to take up this year. The first project is the project Ishk. The focus of this project is to provide artificial limb projects (global grant project). The project is being carried out in joint partnership with Rotary Club of Singapore and Tolaram Foundation. The project is expected to provide 1,500 artificial limbs at free cost. We will also embark on the adoption of Teslim Elias and Union Baptist School, Adeniji Adele Road, Isale Eko, Lagos. There is also the project for the mission. Here, the focus is on two dimensions. First, we will partner with Rotary Club Palmgroove to carry out a minimum of 1,000 cataract surgeries at no cost. The second part will be our partnership with Geeta Ashram to carry out a minimum of 500 cataract surgeries at no cost. The club will also organise blood donation camps in collaboration with ‘Kewalrm Chanrai foundation’ ‘Tolaram foundation’ and other corporate houses. There will also project Haryali (Green). It is a mega tree planting initiative where we plant a tree to save a life. There will be diabetic camp, clean water facilities, polio awareness rally/programme and cancer awareness programme- breast cancer and prostate cancer.
How do you assess the growth of Rotary in Lagos Island?
The growth of the Rotary in Lagos Island is amazing. In the Lagos District 9110, the club is the best. We started the club in June 2016 with 30 members. Within one year we have increased to 14 members. The moment you surpass 100 you call it a mega club. It is the first mega club in Lagos and Ogun Rotary districts. In the Lagos and Ogun districts, they are about 90 clubs, amongst these clubs, our membership is the highest. In terms of helping the society we participated in the mission for vision alongside Rotary Club of Palmgroove. Also, in 2016 we conducted three blood donation camps; this year we are doing six blood donation camps. This is aimed at supporting the Lagos Blood Transfusion Unit. In 2016, we signed an agreement with the Rotary Club of Singapore for financial support to procure artificial limbs. We are going to launch the project this year.
What is the amount of support you received from Lagos State Government and Private Individuals?
The Lagos State Government has supported us in projects such as blood donation. Government doesn’t come to us to ask for where they can support. We go to them to seek for support. For instance in Sagamu, Ogun State, we carried out free surgeries. We approached the Commissioner of Health in the state who decided to support us after seeing what we are doing.
In the areas of education and immunisation, how far has the club fared?
We did polio awareness rally along with the district last year. Our attraction on the polio side is limited also. Our attraction on the polio side is limited to the rally zones. We advertise and make sure that the awareness rally is done by our club. The rally was successful, but more problems are still in the Northern part of the country. We were able to measure the success of the rally through the feedback from the community. Also, we get the results from the Coordinator of the Polio Plus side; they send the result to us.
What were the things that the last administration could not do that you want to achieve in your tenure?
Every President comes with his or her own plan. There is a strategy plan for Rotary clubs by the international body for the next five years. In that plan, they give the broad guidelines. Based on those guidelines we decide our own strategy, and we prepare how to achieve our strategy plan based on the guidelines given by the international body.
The guidelines by the international body are they drawn to meet society needs?
These guidelines are definitively linked with the society. The international body gives the broad guidelines. For the community, the Rotary Club has to select the project they are interested in. The international body will not decide the project that you will do. Every club has their area of jurisdiction. But it must be in line with the guidelines of the international body. In our Lagos Island club, we have youth wing where we help youths develop leadership skills and build themselves. Through the training, we help them build the spirit of discipline. They will be given some chance to develop their own projects and their leadership skills. The district governor will decide their own guidelines and come to the club president.
For the cancer awareness programme, what has been the progress?
Well, I cannot quantify who has benefitted or not. On our path, we aim to organise the rally for people to see what we are doing. We distribute the pamphlets so that it will reach thousands of people. This will help keep them inform about our activities. After that, the second step is having the facility. Our job is to create awareness through radio talks, camps and rallies. We are here for social community service, not for the name. We have by-laws which governs the leadership of Rotary. The by-laws might differ from one Rotary Club to another. The reason is because the schedules of the different Rotary clubs are different. But the constitution doesn’t change. The international body provides what is to be done. For instance in my club, I might want three vice-presidents, while in another they might want one vice-president. We are bringing in women into Rotary. We want members to come with their spouses so that they become Rotarians. We are also looking for young leaders also because very soon the old will leave.