Lagos: How a private organisation joined in fight against Covid-19

In these days of combating Covid-19 through every means, private organisations are also joining in the effort. EDET UDOH writes on the recent effort of Lions Club.

On Tuesday April 28, Lions Clubs International Multiple District 404 Nigeria donated the sum of five million naira to support Lagos state government’s efforts in combating Corona Virus pandemic.
Speaking before the presentation of the cheque to a representative of the state government who is the permanent secretary, State Treasury Office/Accountant General, Dr Abiodun Muritala, the council chairperson, Lion Alhaji Abiodun Adedeji, said the donation was to support Lagos state’s fight against the deadly COVID-19 virus.
While mentioning some of the projects executed by the club in the state, Adedeji informed state government’s representative that the five million naira donation was not their first donation to the state.

Lions projects in the state

According to him, that was not the first time Lions have collaborated with the Centre of Excellence. “In the past, in our strong belief that government cannot do it alone, we have carried out, amongst others, the construction of Lions Motherless Babies Home at Lekki which we manage together with the state government; Ilupeju Lions Club Diabetes Centre at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) which from time to time we visit to donate items require as our club service projects; Cancer Screening and Treatment Centres at the same LASUTH, Ikeja; donation of equipment to Gbagada Eye Clinic by Ilupeju Diamond Lions Club and an edifice and imposing building housing Eye Centre at Isolo General Hospital.
“His Excellency, we are here again to present this token of five million naira to support your great efforts in combating this Covid-19 pandemic. We salute, recognise and appreciate your gallant moves since the outbreak of the evil disease. While others are converting their stadia to burial grounds, you have turned one of the state’s stadia to world class isolation centre. Well done, Sir.”
Also speaking, Lion (Engr) Hamed Olugbenga Babajide Lawal, Past international director and chairman of Nigerian Lions Charity Foundation (NLCF) from which purse the money was drawn, promised more donations for the state.

Members pledge more donations

This time, according to him, the donation would come from the Lions Clubs International Foundation, adding that the foundation had earmarked the sum of $30 million to support Nigeria in combating the spread of covid-19 and Lagos being where the index case was first identified and with the largest number of confirmed case would have the largest share of the materials that would be bought with the money.

Lagos gov’t expresses appreciation

Responding on behalf of the Lagos state government, Dr Muritala thanked the club for their donation, adding that the state would make good use of the money.
He said, “On behalf of Lagos state governor, His Excellency, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; the state commissioner for Finance, Dr Rabiu Olowo and the entire people of Lagos state, we want to appreciate Lions Club. What you have been doing in the state is not hidden; it’s what we can all see. You have done well most especially in the health sector and we are proud of you. We associate with your developmental programme. Any time you need our support, endeavour to call the state and we would be there to support you,” he said.

Importance of charity

Earlier in an interview with Blueprint, Alhaji Teslim Sanusi, past council chairperson (PCC), Multiple District 404 Nigeria, emphasised the importance of charity, noting that when the needy and the less- privileged in the society are taken care of, the rate of crimes and other vices would reduce.
He noted that if people are completely neglected the consequences may be alarming and other residents are the target.
“It is in the best interest of all to do charity, to help the needy and vulnerable among us. If you are rich and you ignore the poor, you may have yourself to blame. If you decide to enjoy your wealth with your family alone, the hunger in the society may come after you and this is the cause of armed robbery and kidnapping in our society today.”
Borrowing the word of Aristotle, he said, “Poverty is the parents of crime and revolution,” even as he called on Nigerians to support the needy in their midst.
Teslim said though charity can be done secretly, the advantage of open charity is to encourage others to follow suit.

Effect of Covid-19 lockdown on their activities

On whether the Covid-19 lockdown has affected the activities of lions in the current year, the District 404B2 governor, Lion Wesley Kafadiya answered in affirmation, “In fact the lockdown is seriously affecting our programmes and activities because our programmes and activities for the year are spread across every month.
“With this lockdown, obviously all the activities are in suspense but we are trying to work around it to ensure that clubs can reach out to their immediate communities to support them especially those who are vulnerable to hunger as a result of this lockdown.
“We believe that Lions as their call to duty can come to their assistance by relieving the hunger. Fortunately, relieving hunger is one of our global agenda and it’s easier for us to appeal to clubs not to shutdown but to cease the opportunity to reach out to their neighbours within their immediate communities, giving assistance where it is needed to relieve hunger and to sensitise them on measures put in place by government.”

Free face mask

To top it all, with the new directive that everyone should wear face mask, because we know there are so many people in the society who cannot afford a N500 face mask, some Lion clubs are already gearing up to produce it in large quantities and share to people in their communities free of charge.

Lagos the first beneficiary
In his contribution, Lion Bernard Eboreimeh, District governor, 404B1 Nigeria who gave reason the five million donation was made to Lagos, noted that state has the highest number of confirmed cases.
“Because we have seen the impact of Covid-19 on Lagos state and effort of the state government so far, that’s why we deemed it necessary to support Lagos state government. We would also do for other states but because Lagos for now is like the epic centre hence the donation,” he said.
The reason for the donation, according to him, is to assist the state in meeting the needs of the people especially during this critical period, adding that government cannot do it alone.

Taking care of the needy

On where the money is taken from for the donation, Lion Alex Irotuhme, past district governor explained that, “What the Lions Foundation in Nigeria does is to keep some funds so that if there is a disaster they would take some money for the amelioration of the effect of such disaster.
“The people out there know the Lions, and Lions have families; we are members of the society. To do something that would benefit the society, we must do it in support of government because government has the mechanism in place to reach out to members of the society.
“Apart from making donations, awareness and advocacies, as Lions we have a time in the year we set aside to feed the hungry in our communities. We hope others would join us to take care of the plight of the poor.

Protection against Covid-19 is a responsibility

Also speaking, Lion Lynda Odu-Okpeseyi, 2nd vice district governor, 404A2 Nigeria who represented Elder Nsikan Bassey said apart from the five million donation to the state government, there are other activities and projects to be carried out during the year and many more lined up for execution.
“You can see even with the lockdown we are donating this much. Different clubs from different states, zones and regions are also giving out palliatives; the recent one is the mounting of billboards with the inscription: ‘Wash your hands and use your face mask’. We have also donated food items to indigent people.
She said, “Corona virus is a phase and it would pass. For it to pass, we must obey instructions: wash your hands, maintain social distancing and use your face mask.”

Join us in serving humanity

Lion Tokunbo Aromolaran, District Governor-elect, District 404A1, who reiterated Lions resolve to continue with its humanitarian activities, called on other Nigerian with passion for humanitarian services to join them in meeting the needs of the needy and the less privileged persons in society.

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