True meaning of life is positively impacting humanity, says MCC, Chief Ayobola Samuel

MCC, Chief Ayobola Samuel.

True meaning of life is positively impacting humanity, says MCC, Chief Ayobola Samuel.

Having worked closely with his immediate community as a civil servant, Lion (Chief) Samuel Ayobola knows how much people need intervention to improve their quality of living. Thus, in this chat, with BLESSING UMEBALI, the Lions Clubs Multiple Council Chairman, 404 Nigeria, talked about leaving a legacy of positive impact on humanity and also applauded the idea of the government collaborating with NGOs among other issues.

How have you been able to utilize your administrative role to streamline operations and enhance efficiency within the organization over the past few years?

Having served as a District Governor before, I am quite familiar with the management of a District. This knowledge and experience actually put me in good stead for coordinating the affairs of the 6 Districts that make up the Council. The experience was also brought to bear in managing the Multiple Council. Initially, we had a rough start but with the adoption of dialogue, we were able to resolve a lot of contending issues, stabilize and bring efficiency to the districts in particular and the Multiple Council in general.

Can you provide examples of the impactful services or Projects that MD has spearheaded to benefit the Community?

The MD is not a District and we must therefore, situate its responsibilities within the context of its mandate. It is the District Governor that has a two-year period to prepare for his tenure and within that period plan the core projects he or she wants to embark upon. On the assumption of office, he or she will embark on a fundraising ceremony to gather resources together to actualize his plan. The office of the Council Chairman is not so. He or see gets elected towards the end of the Lions year. So, there is no much time to plan for any fund mobilization.
Besides, the role of the Council Chairman is to coordinate, or if you like, call it oversight functions on the District Governors.

In most cases, the Council Chairman relies on a grant from the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) to fund projects over which we have no control. It may however, interest you to know that we have submitted an application to them for a grant to do sight first outreach in six States of Ondo, Edo, Lagos, Kwara, Delta and Ogun. The Board of Trustees of LCIF will be meeting in May to consider the applications before them. I hope and wish we will be successful with our application and be able to make an impact in the lives of the people during this Lions year.

What is your perspective of the current government’s approach to collaborating with NGOs like Lions International to address poverty alleviation and hardships in Nigeria?

I can assure you that partnership or collaboration with NGOs is the way to go when viewed against the backdrop that no government, no matter how benevolent or well-endowed can satisfy the needs of the people alone. It is a good development that most governments realize this and have been following this noble path. That is why in most cases, they refer to such NGOs as development partners. The collaboration has in most instances yielded positive outcomes, which should be encouraged. The Executive Governor of Kwara State corroborated this imperative recently when he came to commission the Diabetes Screening and Treatment Center funded by the LCIF and constructed by District 404B2 during the District Governorship of PDG Dr. Ademola Adedoye.

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How is your administration actively working to attract Nigerians to join and contribute to the organization mission?

Incidentally, the current and the most important mission before the organization now is mission 1.5 million, the kernel of which is to grow our membership to 1.5 million by 2027. We in MD 404, Nigeria are poised to key into this milestone and play our part in making the goal a reality. During this tenure, we have embarked on aggressive publicity, using avenues such as social media, the traditional media of newspapers, radio and TV stations, printing and distribution of fliers, erection of Bill Boards, and working through New voices of Lions Clubs to create more visibility for our brand and activities to attract new members. Also, as we have always done, we make it a point of duty to invite members of the public to our project groundbreaking and commissioning ceremonies to give a better understanding of who we are and what we stand for. These steps have actually been yielding the expected returns.

What specific initiatives or programs has your leadership implemented to foster leadership development and enhance the skills of members?

As it is often said, no organization can grow beyond the quality of its leadership. This imperative has shaped our commitment to improve the capacity of different categories of Lion leaders so that their knowledge, skill and capacity can be upscaled as no one can give what it does not have. The first step was to appoint a GLT who knows his onions as the MD GLT coordinator to handle our training and retraining programs. He is PDG Dr. Ademola He is PDG Dr. Ademola Adesoye. Immediately afterward, we organized a training program for the first and second vice District Governors in November, 2023. In January, 2024, we organized an ELLI (Emerging Lions Leadership Institute, meant for those aspiring to serve at the leadership level in the Clubs. This is a good initiative as the training for this category of leaders was held last in 2020, when I was the MD GLT coordinator. Let it also be known that arrangements are in top gear to organize RLLI (Regional Lions Leadership Institute). This training is for Club Presidents. It will take place in Ibadan during the MD Convention taking place in the month of May.

What drives and sustains your commitment to volunteerism within the organization?

The realization that riches, fame and status are ephemeral. The true meaning of life is impacting and positively affecting humanity, such gestures will outlive one. So, through God’s grace upon my life, I will keep touching lives of the needy around me.

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Could you elaborate on some of the challenges you have encountered since your tenure as the MCC and how you have addressed them?
I have encountered three major challenges since I assumed office as the MCC in July 2023. The first challenge was the lack of clear understanding of the workings of the restructured Council from the enlarged Council that we were used to by the MCC and the District Governors.

” Lions in Nigeria have devoted many years of their existence to rendering services in the areas of sight preservation by distributing free eyes glasses, sponsoring glaucoma and cataract surgeries, free white canes distribution to the needy ; diabetes screening and treatment; catering for children who are victims of childhood cancer; disaster relief; whether natural or man-made; relieving hunger; youth development “

This led to some crisis at the beginning of the year but we’re able to weather the storm. I am happy to say that through dialogue, we have been able to overcome this. The second challenge has to do with poor funding. The only source of income for the MD is the N500 per capita levy from Lions. Due to the poor economy, payment of subscription, of which this levy is part of has been a major headache. As a result, having enough resources to fund the council and its activities has remained a herculean task. To stay afloat, we have to think outside the box to source for extra funds.

Thirdly, like all organizations, we have our own fair share of conflicts between Districts and intra-districts. However, with our skill in conflict resolution mechanisms, we have been able to amicably resolve some of these conflicts successfully.

What strategies do you employ to effectively resolve conflicts or disagreements among members or within the organization?

We have employed two-pronged steps. We refer some to conflict resolution and disciplinary committees and at times we constitute a joint committee of the Board of Trustees and Council of Governors to look into the issues where the matters involved are beyond what the Disciplinary and conflict resolution committee can handle.

Looking back on your tenure, what legacy do you aspire to leave behind within the organization and the community?

For the organisation, the legacies that I want to leave behind will include laying a solid foundation for the MCCs coming behind to build upon. Secondly, it is my desire to ensure that the organisation puts in the front burner and shows dedication to the core values of excellence, fair treatment, recognition of diversity, and mutual respect for which our association is well known.

L-R: Fellow Lion; IDE, Princess Adetope Tychus; DG 418, Kate Baaba – Hudson; FVIP, Fabricio Oliveira; PID, Eli Chiti; PID, Engr H.O.B Lawal and MCC, 404 Nigeria, Chief Ayobola Samuel , during the visit of the First Vice International President in Lagos, Nigeria

For the community, the best legacy will be to see and accept us as a leading global service organization that is poised to improve the health and well-being of the people they have volunteered to serve, strengthen communities, and support those in need through humanitarian services.

How do you envision the future growth and impact of the organization under your continued leadership?

Certainly, the future of the organisation is very bright. In a recent release made by the International President, Dr. Patti Hill, she alluded to the fact that with mission 1.5 million, we have witnessed a growth never seen in the past 20 years. This trend will make available more hands and resources to serve more people and continually sustain our commitment to our communities. At the MD level, we are also part of the success story revealed by the International President.

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MCC, Chief Ayobola Samuel with International President, Patti Hill, during the MD interactive session

We have continued to form new Clubs to replace the cancelled Clubs, we have embarked on ensuring members’ satisfaction to stem members dropping and like I mentioned earlier, we have taken conflict resolution seriously so as to sustain the interest and instil confidence in our aggrieved members.

PDG, Lekan Babalola; PAL LCIF, Engr. Olaitan Onolaja ; CP, Ekiti Unique Lions Club, Asiwaju Oyedeji Olajubu; DG , Prof. Dayo Fagbohun; MCC, Chief Ayobola Samuel; DG, Layi Fadairo and PRC, Chief Esther Benson, all at the 2023, International Convention held in Boston , USA.

Finally, the future of any organization depends largely on how the youths are treated. We have always encouraged the growth of our youth arm, the Leo Club. We have keyed into the association’s Leo-Lion conversion program so that we can harvest these young ones into Lions Clubs.

In terms of branding Nigeria as a Nation, how has the association community service initiatives undertaken by the Lions Clubs in Nigeria contributed in shaping the perception of Nigeria as a Nation committed to positive social change and development?

Lionism is 60 years old in Nigeria. Initially, some people have different perceptions about the Association. Some saw it as a cult, while some saw it as an elitist Club, meant exclusively for the very rich, if you like, multi-millionaires. But over the years, the wrong perception is fast disappearing.

DGE, Taiwo Fatoki; IPDG, Lady Kema Ashibogun; MCC, Chief Ayobola Samuel ; DG, Samson Abodunrin; IPCC, Obo Mesembe Edet; and Lion Debo Afolayan all at the public presentation ceremony of DG Abodurin in Lagos.

This is because we have demonstrated that there is no discrimination in our recruitment process. There is no bias towards anyone. Whether you are a Christian or a Muslim; whether you are a doctor or you are an artisan, there is no barrier. The two conditions required for membership are the heart of service and having a sustainable means of livelihood.

Secondly, Lions in Nigeria have devoted many years of their existence to rendering services in the areas of sight preservation by distributing free eyes glasses, sponsoring glaucoma and cataract surgeries, free white canes distribution to the needy ; diabetes screening and treatment; catering for children who are victims of childhood cancer; disaster relief; whether natural or man-made; relieving hunger; youth development, in particular, our Lions quest program and environmental protection among several other programs.

Lion Adeleye Adelaja; Lion Joyce Akpata; MCC, Chief Ayobola Samuel; PDG, Dr.Ademola Adesoye and Lion Debo Afolayan, during the ELLI training conducted by MD404 Nigeria in Ikeja, Lagos.

Apart from these life-changing programs, we have embarked on so many projects in different sectors that have contributed in no small measures to the socio-economic situation in Nigeria. Such projects include the accident clinics, Olushola Dada Dialysis centre in LUTH, several Diabetes screening and treatment centers in Offa, Kwara State, Ede in Osun State, Ado Ekiti in Ekiti State and Ogoja in Cross Rivers State. These and many more have brought succour to many people and the impacts have reshaped their perception.