·Eyes projects in waterside and Borokiri areas of Garden City
By Ignatius Chukwu
Excitement was high in one of the halls at a quiet leisure and resort facility in Old GRA in the Garden City.
The location is known as BCON (Boys Company of Nigeria) on Yola Street in the state capital.
Tuesday evening, top Rotary Club leaders from near and far within PH converged to continue the reactivation task.
Led by Virginia Major (Past District Governor) and Mudiaga Iyomi (a past president and now membership chairman), the members came together to revive one of the most cherished and sensitive clubs that seemed to falter, the Rotary Club Downtown.
By the time the revivalists and other members were walking out and driving home that evening, joy seemed to swell in their hearts for a job that seemed well done, what with new members and quests described by almost everyone as high net worth.
Rotary works to lift burdens in areas of a club’s coverage. Port Harcourt Downtown covers two cavities that seem diametrically opposed in fortunes. The area starts from the back of the Rivers State Government House with the Old GRA segments, Nzimiro areas up to the place described as Old Port Harcourt Township.
That is not all, the other cavity is made up of areas regarded as harvest of the less privileged with the Watersides, the Borokiri, and other such areas. It seems to be a capture of the haves and the have-nots.
In that case, their job seems cut out for the revived club.
The woman fast assuming the image of ‘Mother of Rotary’ in Port Harcourt, Major, who made waves as one-time District Governor of District 9141, tried to lay the carpet on what is to happen soon in the mixed zone.
She told BD Sunday: “What we are trying to do is revitalize it, and ensure it goes in the right direct.
“There is so much to be done, and the areas include the Old GRA, Amadi Flats, Government House, State Secretariat, the Old Port Harcourt Township, Borokiri, Waterside areas, all are under this area.”
The pharmacist and grandmother said there is so much need in these areas. “It is important that this Club is awake to the point where they are able to do necessary needs assessment and do what they can to support the less-privileged people in their catchment area.”
She does not see any challenges in the composition of the coverage area of the Club, but sees it as a good thing, rather. “A lot of things we do in the communities require partnership with government agencies. You can see membership here including very high government persons who understand technical things that will help our approach.”
She said it a good thing that they have this combination. “We may have to interface with government officials and we are not asking for money but for technical inputs and direction.
“If you want to do anything on Environment, you have to go to the Ministry of Environment and talk to them. They might be able to give us technical tips to make things happen; same in basic education, etc.
“You can’t really do much without getting the nod of these agencies and ministries. Yes, it is a good thing that we have the high net worth end and the very poor people at the other end. It will help us to do well.”
The 10-year-old Club may have faltered and is now bouncing back, but expectations seem very high. “Oh, I expect between now and June, 2023, the Club is going to be very strong. Most of their incoming officers have been trained and more will be trained in April 2023. They are already working on some sustainable projects, on fundraiser, needs assessment, etc”, Major declared.
She said it is a time for them to concentrate on planning. “I believe sometime next month, they will have their strategic planning session, a retreat, they will plan all the goals; which way; do they want to grow, do they have projects, where do they want to see themselves in the next three years, etc? By July 1, 2023, they will hit the ground running.”
The quality of membership seems to excite the revivalists on a mission from other clubs. She said the membership quality is impressive and they have confidence in their ability to do very well. “That is the reason we are going out of our way to ensure that this club stands on its feet.”
In his remarks, Iyomi, member of Rotary Club Port Harcourt Airfield who had served as president, served as assistant governor, and currently serving as district chair for Rotary, agreed with the excitement of Major.
Iyomi, who presided at the meeting supported by Larry Ebhota, president-elect, flanked by the likes of Shadrach Edet, said his mission is to be the eye of the District to support the rebranding effort of this club which had gone down at a time.
He explained thus: “In December 2022, the Club was deregistered, but the District decided to make efforts to revive it. As district membership chair, the lot fell on me to make efforts.”
He said Past District Governor (Virginia Major), took it upon herself to lead the task and use her knowledge of lots of members to mobilise.
“Today, we are happy that the Club is actually coming up. We have people of very high net-worth in the club who have indicated interest to become members and to work hard.
“We are happy to have a robust beginning and look forward to a strong future, probably stronger than some other clubs based on the pedigree of those we can see here.”
He mentioned the core areas of Rotary that would be unleashed in service to the needy areas of the catchment as Peace & conflict resolution and prevention; Basic education and illiteracy; Maternal and child health; Water, sanitation and hygiene; Disease prevention; Economic and community development; and Environment conservation.
Iyomi dropped a big hint, revealing how Rotary Clubs in Nigeria have been working hard to ensure that Polio remained subdued, having been kicked out of Nigeria. “We have eradicated polio but what we do now is continuous advocacy, advisory, etc, to keep it to zero so it doesn’t return.”
Club Downtown created two committees to prepare for inauguration in July and another to draft its bye-laws. These would help the revived club to hit the ground running, according to the revivalists.