As an undergraduate of Mathematics at the University of Benin, Ehi Braimah, the new President of Rotary Club of Lagos, District 9110, was known more on the campus as Football enthusiast and analyst. It did not come as a surprise to his friends and family when he came to Lagos and approached Dr. Sunny Obazu-Ojeagbase, Publisher of Complete Sports and instantly began a career as a Sport Reporter. Then, his path crossed that of the Nite Shift Coliseum boss, Guv’nor Ken-Caleb Olumese, and the budding journalist again shifted ground to embrace the world of entertainment and events management. Looking for what to do to inspire his immediate environment and serve humanity, Braimah found the ideals of Rotary Club attractive and he joined the international organisation. This entrepreneur shares his journey through life with Raheem Akingbolu
Six years after he joined the Rotary Club of Lagos, Ehi Braimah, the Chief Executive Officer of Neo Media and Marketing, has not forgotten how the motto of the international organisation – ‘Service Above Self’, got him thinking about the essence of life. Since his first day as a member, Braimah hasn’t looked back. A man of many roles, the club, according to him, has further taught him how to plan his day-to-day activities and excel both in his business and social services. For his commitment and painstaking interest in service to humanity, this Edo State born businessman will on July 6 assume office as the President of the association.
Speaking to THISDAY on what endeared him to the club, Braimah said after reading about the life history of the founder of the club, Paul P. Harris, a Chicago, United States, attorney, he got hooked to the objectives, the four-way test and the six focus areas of the club.
“As a person, I’m passionate about humanity and I see Rotary Club as a good platform to contribute my quota to community development and touch lives. To me, if a country or a business organisation key into the objectives of Rotary as well as the six focus areas of the club, the world will be better for all. They include; the development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service; high ethical standards in business and professions and the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations, and the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society.
“The last is the application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian’s personal, business, and community life and the advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service. Above all, I think the four-way test, says it all; is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned? These are sacrosanct principles that could change the world.”
As a businessman, with interest in event management, entertainment and hospitality, one wonders how Braimah combines these with the activities of Rotary Club, but according to him; it is easy, depending on how one plans his day to day activities.
“I will say we multi-task and this is the time to do it. By the time we are 75, we will slow down and into full time retirement. Now we have full time energy and it’s time to work. When you see the dream of the founder of Rotary Club, Paul Harris, since February 23, 1905, it is clear that there’s nothing in this world but to continue to serve selflessly. I enjoy serving selflessly and that’s the vision behind the founding of Rotary. It’s a global humanitarian service organisation. That’s why the motto of Rotary is “Service above Self”.
“We believe that if we put smiles on faces of people around the world, the world will be a better place. Talking about my schedule, even my wife is telling me, must you get involved in that project? I was recently elected Vice President of Nigerian American Chamber of Commerce. I was even running my MBA programme overseas and it is a 30 months programme, though more of correspondence course. It’s about having a list and allocating time for them. It is a form of planning. When you plan, it helps; otherwise you end up doing nothing. At the end, you can rank your performance,”
Speaking about structure of the club, he stated that Nigeria has four districts in line with the way the global body is structured. He also pointed out that the club has zones at international level. “In Nigeria, we have four districts. My club belongs to district 9110 which covers Lagos and Ogun States. In these districts, we have 105 clubs. Every club has a president but a district has a Governor. We have district 9141, which is largely south-south states, excluding Akwa Ibom and Cross River that belong to 9142 for the south-eastern states. Then, we have district 9125, which is for Abuja, North and some parts of the Western Nigeria. Rotary year starts July 1- June 30 every year. Rotary encourages a lot of capacity building so you enrich the knowledge of Rotarians in service. We are guided by the four way test so that we don’t depart from the vision of the founder. What informed my decision was that I like to serve selflessly. There’s reward in it but most people don’t know.
“People who do charity receive a lot of blessings from God. Fingers are not equal, which means some people will always be in need. There should be a programme to support such people and Rotary offers that platform. In Rotary globally, we have six focus areas. One, basic education and literacy, second is economic and community development, the third one is disease prevention and treatment, then water and sanitation. The last two are maternal and child health and peace and conflict prevention/resolution. We have 1.2 million Rotarians in over 35,000 clubs around the world. It’s about impact. We transform communities. These are the motivations for Rotarians.”
Asked about his plan as President of Rotary Club of Lagos, Braimah said under basic education and literacy, he has about seven projects because the club likes to spend more time on education, healthcare and clean water, pointing out that those areas were critical for members of the club globally. “If you go to economic empowerment, we have the micro credit scheme where we give credit free loans to market men and women in some areas of Lagos, including Oke Arin and Ita Marun community bordering the Atlantic. In the coming year, we are adopting a school there with one partner to build and equip the school. I also have what I call two star projects. One is under maternal and child health. What we plan to do in this direction is to donate medical equipment for paediatric and anaesthesia department of the Onikan Health Centre Maternity. It’s going to cost about N4million. Another star project is the distribution of treated mosquito nets to 1000 households. That’s costing another N4 million. The locations we are looking at are; Ita Marun, Surulere, Obalende, Ijesha and Yaba. You will agree with me that Malaria is a killer in Africa. So we support whatever that can be done to help guard against it.”
On the values the association has added to his life, the 58th president of the club summed it up in few words: “It has redefined the essence of life in me and I’m happy about that”. He stated that Rotary was about touching lives in different communities and that in every community, there would be one Rotary Club not too far away. “Every club is supposed to look at the needs of that community. We do needs assessment so as not to give people what they don’t need. At times, we collaborate to ensure sustainability in some of the projects.”
He said as the oldest active club in the whole of Nigeria, the Rotary Club of Lagos always aspire to be a pacesetter.
“Installation ceremony and inauguration of board of directors was held on July 6th at the Cosmopolitan Club Lagos. It served as a fund raising and dinner event. I also used the opportunity to share my plans for the following year with members. This allowed those coming for the first time to know what Rotary is all about. Let me quickly add that Rotary largely lives on corporate and individual donations,” he said.
The chairman at Braimah’s installation was Udeme Ufot, while the guest speaker was Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi.