By Sunday Ani
Recently, the Rotary Club of Amuwo, Lagos, rolled out the drums to mark the 2017 World Understanding and Peace Day, which also coincided with the 112th anniversary of Rotary International.
It was an evening of colour as Rotarians from within and outside Amuwo gathered in Festac, Lagos, dressed in gorgeous attire, to mark the event.
President of Rotary Club of Amuwo, Annie Essienette, described the event as an avenue for members to promote tolerance and global friendship.
“We typically invite friends, neighbours, family members to join us on a day like this and even encourage members that have foreigners in their midst for us to come and reason together,” she said.
Essienette stressed the need for Nigerians to embrace peace and imbibe the virtue of tolerance, lamenting that most of the problems bedeviling the world today were caused by intolerance: “We invited a guest speaker to talk to us about the need to tolerate one another, eschew bitterness and promote peace wherever we find ourselves, because most of the problems that we have in the world today are all traceable to lack of tolerance.
“If we decide to tolerate one another, the world would be a better place because I can’t be like you no matter how much I try. If we can all learn to live in peace, I think the world would be a much better place and that is what we have come to promote here, along with the ideal of Rotary, which is to build goodwill and better friendship, and we do this on February 23, every year.”
On the impact of the annual celebration, she said: “First of all, it gives us an opportunity to talk about Rotary, because a lot of people don’t understand what it means, they think it is just another social club. So we use this opportunity to tell them that Rotary is not a social club but a humanitarian and service club. It is a club of professionals who volunteer their time to give back to society through mentoring and eradicating diseases by taking care of our environment.”
The guest speaker at the event, a socio-spiritual consultant and founder of Precious Jewel Ministry, Princess Juliet Binitie, while delivering her lecture, charged Rotarians in Nigeria to be prepared to contest for elective political positions in 2019. She specifically tasked the elite club members to ensure that they occupied as many legislative seats in the national and state assemblies as possible in 2019 because the present crop of legislators had failed Nigerians.
She said: “I want to see more Rotarians entering the political space in 2019, particularly at the legislative level, whether at the state or federal levels. We don’t need this present crop of legislators in 2019. We need men who understand that tolerance includes fighting for good laws and policies.”
Binitie urged the Rotarians to lead the campaign for tolerance as the only panacea for peaceful co-existence in Nigeria, adding that tribal consciousness had done more harm than good to Nigeria’s peaceful co-existence.
“We want to hear from Rotary in days to come, how different ethnic nationalities in Nigeria can live peacefully. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Rotary club should lead the way to show that, with tolerance, we can marry our weaknesses and strengths intelligently to make Nigeria a better place,” she said.
She stressed that the self-centred spirit of Africans, which has led to hunger and poverty among the people, must be done away with, to avoid conflict and engender peace on the continent in general and Nigeria in particular.
Noting that the problem with Nigeria could only be solved by Nigerians, she called on the Rotary Club, as an elite body, to rise on the responsibility, saying: “You can no longer look through your television at the happenings in our nation; you must get involved, be active and be a participant for change. We need a transformational leadership and not the transactional leadership, that we have today.”
The high point of the event was the induction of five new members, who were charged to ensure that they sustained the growth of the club by carrying its torch for the next generation.