Posted by Elizabeth Edozie on Mar 25, 2019
The District Governor Elect, Rotary International, District 9110, Nigeria, Jide Akeredolu has told club presidents-elect at the just concluded Presidents-elect Training (PETS) 2019 held at Orchid Hotel in Lekki, Lagos, that the district “will make maximum use of technology” next Rotary year 2019-20.
PETS is an annual training designed by Rotary International to prepare the President-elect of the various clubs in the various districts for their year. The 2019 edition- a joint seminar with the Rotaract Club Presidents-elect, held on Thursday, March 21 - Saturday, March 23, 2019.
DGE Akeredolu, while presenting the 2019-20 Rotary International (RI) theme, stated, “Rotary leaders are aware that Rotarians are under strain, physically, financially, and otherwise. And it is affecting membership retention.  We will look for every possible way to reduce the strain on you Rotarians.  Achieving more with less, taking maximum use of technology, to make it easier to be a Rotarian.”
Speaking further, he said, “But there is work to do, we just need to deploy easier ways of achieving the same goal, cut off a lot of the chaff, and come out stronger, more focused. This way, we can stem membership attrition, increase Foundation contributions, and engage in bigger, bolder projects.  
“Rotary is indeed a family. Yet too often, the structure of membership or the demands of leadership seem to place Rotary out of reach for today’s younger professionals”, he noted, adding that “Rotary can and should be an experience that complements our families, our jobs and businesses, instead of competing with them”, he added.
The DGE noted that the RI President-elect Mark Maloney at the International Assembly, emphasised that Rotary leaders should focus on members, and look for ways to make Rotary more attractive and less burdensome to young and busy professionals who are being left out with the way Rotary is run at club, district and even RI levels.  “I am going to do just that”.
“It’s going to be tough, because I have heard phrases like ‘this is how we do our things in Rotary’.  That will have to change.  One of the main things I am going to focus on is to change the way we do things, making it easier to be a good Rotarian without sacrificing your job, your business, or your family”, he said.
DGE Akeredolu, in his presentation, further noted that in the past, especially in Europe and America, companies commonly mandate their management staff to join voluntary organisations like Rotary, bankrolling all the costs of membership, because they see that the connections and benefits that will come to the company from their top management being in Rotary.  
“The contacts you make in such organisation will rub off positively on the fortunes of the company.  Even their corporate profile. It was good for business, not just corporate social responsibility.  All that has slowly eroded, almost vanished, as organisations now see their staff’s Rotary membership as a problem that competes with them for their staff’s time and devotion”, he stated.
“Some careers, and businesses have suffered as a result of Rotary membership. I have heard a Rotarian moan that his boss literally told him to choose between his job and ‘this your Rotary thing’. Many are not complaining, they just leave.  We must start to change the culture of Rotary, if we want to survive as an organisation.”
The DGE stressed that “in the new Rotary year, and with an inspired membership, we will embark on services that mark us out as people of action. Polio is still our flagship project. We will not reduce our resolve until Polio is eradicated from the face of the earth. The last case of polio in Nigeria was in August 2016. 
“The World Health Organisation requires a country not to have a single case of polio for three consecutive years to be certified polio-free. By the grace of God, the certification will happen during the next Rotary year, and with the Nigerian National PolioPlus Committee, we should have a huge celebration.
“I first thought that the certification will come exactly on the 22nd of August, so that the party will start on the 23rd, but we were informed in San Diego, that it’s not that straightforward.  World Health Organizattion will still do a lot of checking and rechecking, so that they don’t make any mistakes.  So, the official paper may not come out until around November/December”, he further stated.
DGE Akeredolu however revealed that the RI President-elect has promised to be in Nigeria for the celebration, whenever it takes place. “Anytime it happens we will be ready to roll out the drums and have a great show. This landmark, properly managed, can bring with it exciting opportunities and new challenges.  Many organizations will seek to associate with us. Rotary’s visibility will be high, and we have the potential to become a global powerhouse for doing good.” 
The DGE who also noted the challenge with the next flagship project of Rotary after the eradication of Polio, disclosed that an idea being pushed vigorously by Past RI President Ravi Ravindran, is the eradication of cervical cancer. 
“Cervical cancer is unique in being a cancer that is almost completely preventable by vaccination. It is known to be caused almost exclusively by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Vaccination of girls just before they become sexually active can prevent HPV infection, and consequently, cervical cancer. We are keying early into this vision, by planning a global grant project on HPV vaccination in our district”, He stated emphatically.
The Presidents-elect were trained on various aspects of Rotary by Rotarian speakers and district leaders. The participants were also trained by international guest speakers- Olunike Oladele who made a presentation on “Public Speaking” and Dr. Godwill Agbawa who spoke on “Motivating Volunteers”.
Present at the seminar was District Governor Kola Sodipo and his spouse, Nike as well as other district leaders with some of their spouses. The participants were however privileged to have Rotary International Director and RI Incoming Vice President Yinka Babalola speak to them.
There was also time for the participants to unwind at the welcome cocktail and old school night organised by the PETS 2019 planning committee, led by Okechukwu Uche-Ukah.
To download the 2019-20 RI Theme Presentation by DGE Akeredolu, visit: