If We Get People in Power into Rotary, Nigeria ‘ll Be Better

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Dotun Lampejo

Dotun Lampejo is the current Opportunities President of Rotary Club of Ikeja, Lagos, whose appointment came during the COVID-19 pandemic. The man, with characteristic optimism and confidence has set off seeking opportunities for the club in what many see as a plague. Managing Partner of Lampejo Solicitors, a commercial law firm in Lagos, Lampejo, is passionate about giving life meaning and no other place would he prefer, than the Rotary Club International to add value to lives. He shares the Rotary Club goals and objectives with Olaoluwakitan Babatunde and speaks on other related issues

Congratulations on your Investiture as the 53rd President of Rotary Club of Ikeja. How do you feel?
Becoming Rotary President is a call to service, and becoming the President of Rotary Club of Ikeja is also humbling, taking into the 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!

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 6 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.

How do you measure success in your interventions?
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?
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, and we visited the Ikeja Junior Secondary School with an Optometrist to conduct eye tests for the students and provided free eye glasses for 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.

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, who later became the President of the Nigerian- British Chamber of Commerce, of blessed memory. I went for a few meetings and liked the people and was also impressed with some of the guest speakers who spoke 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’m 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.

How do you think the Rotary Club can be further projected?
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, but it is very fulfilling when you see smiles on the faces of beneficiaries of our projects.