CEM REPORT | There are great clubs and Foundations that have made remarkable developmental impact in humanity such as Rotary Club International, Lion’s Club International, Island Club, Ikoyi Club, People’s Club, John Mac Foundation, Ford Foundation and many others. These clubs would have long gone into oblivion but for their determination in the pursuant of their objective anchored on human welfare and wellbeing in the various spheres they are found.
Usagbe Club of Nigeria like the other clubs have set out an objective propelling it to carve its name on the golden floor of humanity. Being the spark that gave birth to the club, their commitment to human welfare and community development since inception has continued to solidify.
In the words of the current President of the Club, Paul Inape Izenuwa, “the formation of Usagbe was a miracle, it was never planned, it came and God instituted it and it has not only come to stay, it is waxing stronger and expanding.”
In 1984, a group of 14 men came together to raise money to support a friend whose house was razed by fire, a gesture that offered an impressive relief for the victim. These men decided to come together as a club to support each other and those who may need help in such a dare situation. This is how the Club was berthed. The club has not only held this welfarism central but has gradually and consistently expounded it into full blown community development objectives with extension to collaboration with governmental authorities.
The Deputy Governor of Edo State who grazed the Club’s 2022 Retreat/Convention held in Lagos recently, as an Acting Governor, remarked that Government of Edo State is excited about Usagbe club’s interest in community development and that they have been consistent.’
He continued by saying that “If there are more of this kind of organizations, not only will they keep the government on its toes, there will be more collaborations to develop the society. What has been lacking over time is communities and other stakeholders taking ownership of their community development. Usagbe has been consistent in the pursuant of their community development and my prayer is that other associations will be able to emulate them.”
How has the Club contributed?
In a side interview, Paul Izenuwa highlighted some of the developmental works being done by the Club. He said:
“One of our areas of focus since I became President for about a year and half has been first, security of lives of our people. This was the major issue and in the front burner when I took over and the Club confronted it. When we found out that the successes needed to be expanded, we went into alliance with other key groups and clubs in our community. We started with clubs and groups in Weppa and Wanno which has led to a joint committee under our leadership that provide Logistics support to security agencies and vigilante groups.
“We have bought vehicles to aid the job of the security agencies and vigilante groups. On a regular basis, we send support to enable their smooth operation. Before we came, there was near total absence of vigilante on our roads, but now, they are there on a daily basis courtesy of the efforts we have put in.
“Welfare of our members is also now very paramount since we now have an increasing number of aged members, some of whom are now retired. For this, we have come up with some welfare policies that will keep them as members and also able to survive. It is not proper to remove anybody from the club because he is no longer buoyant. We recognize the efforts and contributions made by them in the past. Such people now enjoy some exceptions and some packages as well.
“In the area of education, we have increased the beneficiaries of our scholarship scheme. We are encouraged to do this having seen the impact is has created. Some of those who benefited are medical personnel and others doing well in their chosen career s. One of them headed the optical group that conducted the free eye care in our last free health care outreach with many others fully involved in the annual health care program. That is a strong indication that we are succeeding.
“In healthcare, we have expanded the free health care outreach to two locations instead of the single location we had it before. In addition, we have contributed to the facility upgrade of the health center in our place when they had problems with facility.
“Regarding our collaboration with the government, a government relation committee will be set up and members announced at this convention. The committee is meant to keep in touch with government. For the first time, the communique from this convention will be sent to the Governor and a follow up will be done, an improvement on the past.
Chairman of the Lagos Chapter of the Club, Felix Oyakhaho wrapped up the discussion on the deep interest in developing their community by saying; “We are all from different works of life; medical, legal, hospitality, oil and gas and virtually every profession. What bind us together is our root because we are from that community. In as much as we commune as brothers, we must also be committed to our community. If we don’t do it, nobody will do it for us. We do the ones within our capacity and influence other authorities to help us out.”
How is the Club keeping its members together?
This commitment in the things of the community was truly demonstrated throughout the event in the comportment with which both the high and mighty and the sufficient conducted their activities. A common palpable character exhibition was readiness to serve and obedience to rules and order without exception.
The commitment of the club to members’ welfare is key to this oneness. The club consistently seek ways to keep their members’ growth trajectory. It is for this purpose that the club set up a cooperative society, in order to facilitate the financial growth of its members and to promote the capacity to do business among the sons and daughters of Weppa, Uwanno & Uzanu.
Core objectives of the Cooperative include (1.) To provide excellent financial services to its members (2.) To focus on viable business opportunities in Weppa, Uwanno & Uzanu such as agriculture, tourism, education, human capacity development etc. (3.) To invest in small and medium scale factories and production lines of viable, economic and bankable products (4.) Provides real estate and other investment opportunities for the collective gain of members.
One style that have also yielded the desired cooperation in the club is unhindered communication regardless of affiliations. This was attested to in the remark by the Honorable Minister for State for Budget and Planning, Clem Agba while feeding questions from Continental Economy Magazine at the event.
He said “One thing Usagbe has tried to do is bringing brother together regardless of our divers viewpoints. It is important to stay in one room and discuss, it is only then that you can arrive at the best decision. Now because everybody has participated in the decision process, it becomes easy to execute.”
No one can refute the fact that such decorum can only be achieved by a long established and sustained culture built on clear structure and principles. Felix Oyakhaho confirmed my supposition while speaking on what it takes to lead this group of eminent people. He said;
“The Club has built a kind of structure with rules that is binding. Generally, the Club has instituted discipline through these rules that are firm. The Club has kicked out some people regardless of their eminence for breaking those rules. The Club is meant for those who are ready to obey the set and binding rules, if you must be a member, then you must obey the rules. The people here have self-discipline and so I don’t need to do much to keep my unit together.”
What guide the Club’s recruitment process?
The structure referred to by the Lagos Chapter Chairman starts from the recruitment process which has been described as rigorous. The induction process of new and young members into the club at the Retreat/Convention, vivified the rigor nature of the entire recruitment process and the ardency with which it is conducted. Those processes must be meant to access their loyalty and discipline, motive for seeking membership, willingness to contribute the 3Ts and organizational aspiration.
Taking from the President’s response to membership criteria, the listed criteria stays above the financial capacity of intending members though the largest percentage of members of the club are top industry leaders and very well placed in government. The basic is ability to fulfill the required financial obligation, which means you should have stable source of income.
The President said: “Against perception that Usagbe is meant for the elite and the wealthy, the Usagbe is meant for those that can at least take care of themselves and then able to offer a contribution. The most important is that, the Club is meant for those that are able to offer their 3Ts; Time, Talent and Treasure. You may not be rich, but you may have a talent that can be put to use to benefit the club and the community.
“We have those that are not too strong financially, only able to afford the basic, but they are very committed. We all work for the growth of the club and development of our community. The truth is that we have those that are wealthy, but that is not the basic criteria otherwise we would have removed those that are no longer buoyant. What those ones can no longer give in terms of wealth, they give in terms of time and guidance and other talents they are endowed with.”
Abu Agbonoga, a past president of the Club sees Usagbe scaling up what they have started. He sees the club in a more robust partnership with government in the next ten years to impact more largely on the socio-economic development of Weppa and Wanno