Celebrating leadership that strengthens Rotary’s core

This speech was presented at the conclusion of the District Conference of Rotary District 9125 held in Abuja, Nigeria from 18th to 22nd of May 2022.

This has been an excellent conference and one of rare distinction. Congratulations to District Conference Chair Chiddi Onuogu and his team. The program covered every relevant aspect of Rotary, updating members on important initiatives and progress.

Rotary Interntional President Shekhar Mehta will surely be pleased to hear about it and to know that his theme ‘serve to change lives’ has been fully embraced.

The impressive public image initiatives, which included daily coverage in national media, helped to reassert the stature of Rotary in the region.

And what is really close to my heart is the polio immunization activities we carried out on Thursday morning and it empathized the fact that our job is not done until we wave bye-bye to this disease. The leadership of Past District Governor Tunji Funsho, the National Polio Plus Committee Chairman, continues to reaffirm our commitment to the End Of Polio.

We were besides ourselves when, during the conference itself, you inducted into Rotary two high caliber gentlemen. It is clear that they joined because you presented Rotary at its best – people of action who implement extensive projects across Nigeria. You also sold Rotary by demonstrating a bright future embodied by the young, strong and vibrant Rotarians and Rotaractors that you have here.

With the leadership troika – District Governor Ayo, District Governor Elect Goddy and District Governor Nominee Sagab.

But it is the celebration of your leadership that Rotarians enjoyed the most. The Governor’s cocktail party; the all white club-hospitality night; the cultural evening, with the majesty and colour of traditional dress from all corners of Nigeria, which cement your reputation as a cultural superpower; all these special occasions have sparked a fire within our hearts and will drive a passion for Rotary for years to come.

The celebrations have fortified our commitment to one another and our cause, while aligning the stars for the most complete success. They also fulfill the purpose of Rotary – a fellowship of people united in the ideal of service and the development of international goodwill and peace.

The support you have from your Past District Governors is outstanding and you have a host of luminaries that are serving beyond the district as they exert positive influence across Africa and the Globe.

A shout out to Past Rotary International President Jonathan Majiyabe and the Global First Lady Ayo who welcomed us into their home with elaborate hospitality. Past President Jonathan remains an icon and inspires the next set of Rotary International Presidents, many of whom, may I add, are on this continent; not only are they on this continent, but they are in this district. And not only are they in this district, but they are in this very room!

Past Rotary International President Jonathan Majiyabe and his wife Ayo continue to inspire future leaders.

To Immediate Past District Governor Jumoke, they say that your legacy is sealed by your successor and I can’t think of a more monumental establishment of your legacy than through the visionary and pragmatic leadership of DG Ayo.

And on behalf of the Rotary International President, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every club president in the district for their dedication, commitment and belief. None of this would have been possible without the confidence Rotarians have placed in you and the personal sacrifices that you have made.

We will now express our gratitude to specific people who made our visit particularly rewarding.

Dr. Jennifer Neka is the strong silent type and has been at our side throughout the conference. She has been an Interactor, a Rotaractor and is now a Rotarian. She provides an excellent example of Rotary’s influence now and in the future.

Our Aides Chris & Nkem have become true friends and they have made our stay comfortable and enjoyable. They are both driven individuals who espouse inspired vision and distinguished character.

Chris is a enlightened leader who exudes charm and invariably upholds Nigeria’s claim to the best Jolof rice through his Chriscane Suites. He is not only a builder of prominent buildings around the city, but also of an enduring culture within Rotary. His future in Rotary is excessively bright.

We thank you for your generosity and friendship. 

The hospitality of Past Assistant Governor Chris and his wife Nkem was extraordinary.

District Governor Ayo and his wife Moji are the perfect hosts. God surely blesses his family and this prepares them for greatness, and thus it is no surprise that they are breaking records in the districts history.

It is Impressive that the growth in membership has been done within existing clubs. Many think that consolidating club strength, instead of focusing on club extension, leads to a lower growth rate, but he has proven the naysayers wrong by showing that one can deliver massive growth within standing clubs. It is an excellent case study for the learning and development team at Rotary international who train future district governors.

Their generosity and grace will stay with us forever and we are truly in their debt.

DG Ayo and his wife Moji helped to cement our connection to Nigeria that is established in our hearts.

We would like to end with a quote from Wole Soyinka that emphasizes what we have seen in this district, and espouses DG’s Ayo’s humility and quiet confidence.

“A tiger does not proclaim his tigritude, he pounces. In other words: a tiger does not stand in the forest and say: ‘I am a tiger’. When you pass where the tiger has walked before, you see the skeleton of the duiker, you know that some tigritude has been emanated there.”

God bless you all and enjoy the rest of your evening.


2 thoughts on “Celebrating leadership that strengthens Rotary’s core

  1. Thank you so much Joe for the wonderful impact you and your beautiful wife Jane made during our district conference on your visit to Abuja. We are forever grateful

    Liked by 1 person

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