It is a known fact that “all work and no play makes jack a dull boy”, but now, it is no longer jack alone but every hardworking individuals. For Ikoyi Club 1938, Mr Olusola Adeosun, Vice Chairman of the Club, in this interview with KAYODE ADELOWOKAN, Managing Editor of NEWSVERGE, spoke on how the club have been able to discipline in the last 78 years still protecting its old structures cum what makes the Ikoyi Club 1938 stands out among other clubs in the country. Excerpts;
Why do you think Ikoyi Club 1938 stands out amongst other social clubs in the country?
Ikoyi Club 1938 is a membership Club and it is a foremost recreational and family club in Nigeria, we have over 10,000 members of which a large percentage is active and it is unique club in that if you are a member, your wife, children, and family are a member by virtue of your own membership unlike what obtains in most other clubs.
In terms of size, we are the biggest, in terms of age, we have a couple of clubs that are older than us but we have surpassed most of them in terms of size and membership and of course, you will hardly find Ikoyi club in the news for wrong reasons because we maintain a disciplined lifestyle. You will only find us in the news for the good we do, but even that is still few and far and that is not because our good deeds are few but because we are very restricted about the way we handle publicity, but all of that is changing now because we have realized we are in a modern world and people should see us.
The club is made up of eight different sections, which can be likened to the setting of a federation. There is a main house which is just like the federal government that controls and co-ordinates all the sections, then, the sections are semi-autonomous they can also make decisions on their own. The kind of sections we have, nobody has it.
In some places, they have Ludo section, ‘Ayo’ section, dart section. The basic structure of the club evolved over the last 78 years. On September 29, 1938, The Lagos Golf Club and The European Club Ikoyi merged to form ‘Ikoyi Club 1938’. From onset, we had the golf as a game and we have swimming, the thing is once we have a critical mass number of members playing a particular sport, they will pull out of that group and form a section and so that way, we have a tennis section, swimming section, squash section, badminton section, but sports that have not been sectionalized will remain under ‘other sports’ section. So in our other sports section currently, we have the physical fitness training called aerobics, we have Taekwondo, Basket Ball, Five aside soccer etc.
So the club is organized politically along that structure and each of these sections have a chairman and an executive committee, just like you have a governor in a state and the legislative arm and they are all elected.
On the Club’s recent 78th anniversary ceremony
Someone asked me recently what is special about 78 years anniversary and I said well there is nothing special but something special about it. How many 78 year old institutions do we have in Nigeria? Even Nigeria is 56 years post independent and we can see how turbulent it is for us to stick together, so if you see an entity that has clocked 78 years in Nigeria and there is relative peace, it has stayed true to its vision from Day one, the vision is relevant 78 years after and will be relevant even in 50 years to come, I think that is quite remarkable and it needs to be recognized and celebrated.
The club has most responsible citizens; we have members of staff who have spent 20-25 years with us, we have over 400 staff because the club runs 24-hrs with 3 shifts and that is part of our own contribution to support the society with employment and that has been consistent.
What do you mean by responsible citizens and what is the mode of power transition?
In terms of responsible citizenship, this club has done a lot, we are very responsible, we are a model, you can hardly hear of rancor in transfer of power, authority in this Club.
The mode of power transfer in this club is so subdued, you are not allowed to campaign, you should be known, so we are not allowed to print posters and all of those stuff politicians do to be elected; spending millions and millions of naira on campaign is not allowed here, it is a social club. So, if you are asking for authority to be bestowed on you, the members must know you well enough to put you up for such position. So, that is a model that we have given back to Nigeria, that there mustn’t be violence or rancor in transition of power. It is so seamless, we have perfected it in this club, in some other clubs we hear of arguments, court cases and fights in transition of power, but it has never happen in Ikoyi Club 1938 and we hold elections every year.
In terms of maintaining a heritage, this club has given a lot to Nigeria to learn, this club has witnessed three to four generations and it is still being handed over in its prestigious state, if you look around, you see that some of the buildings here are very old but they are still being well maintained, the lawns are still being mowed, our facilities are second to none in Nigeria, some of our facilities might be old, but they are neither dilapidated nor left unattended to. So that is something to learn that heritage should be preserved. S o I want to presume that if Lagos-Ibadan expressway or Murtala Muhammed Airport is being managed by Ikoyi Club 1938, they will never be in a horrible state, yes, we have our challenges with power supply but power is always on here 24-hours, at whatever cost, but we must have it.
In terms of discipline, in this club, nobody is bigger than the club, the club is the number 1 citizen, I wish Nigerians can make Nigeria the number one citizen in their hearts, you know, no discrimination on the basis of colour, sex, ethnic origin, despite our heritage as a colonial institution, every member of the Ikoyi club 1938, is equal, so that is another lesson Nigeria can learn from us, the club have been at the top of its game for 78 years, if for 78 years, nobody can beat us the that is something to learn, we pray that Nigeria regains her lost glory and become a country of repute to be reckoned with again.
In terms of giving, we always remember the less privileged in the society, we do a whole lot of charity works at intervals, and our members contribute for charity every month.
We have also provided a veritable ground for the development of talents, because we have the best facilities, we allow budding stars, budding sports-men to use our facilities in training. For instance, we train golfers, children of members and non-members alike, we sponsor tournaments and athletes are invited to compete and we also make our facilities available to other corporate bodies so that the dearth of excellent facilities is not felt. For instance, we play host to several editions of Nigerian games.
So the club has contributed so much to Nigeria since its existence.
What is the focus of the Club for the New Year?
We plan to have another 78 years of greatness, still being on top of our game and still remaining one of the biggest clubs ever in Nigeria. Our vision was relevant 78 years ago, it is still relevant and we hope it continues to remain relevant in 78 years’ time, because if you look at it, the whole world needs harmony now more than ever, the world peace has never been more threatened than it is now, so we need that harmony.
Our vision is still relevant and we hope that if we live by our vision as a team, things will get better.
How does the club maintain discipline and how does it get members to abide by the rules?
That is very simple, when you know that there is zero-tolerance for indiscipline. We have rules in Nigeria and we also have rules in Ikoyi Club 1938, to what extent are you ready to enforce the rule? There is no godfatherism or favoritism here, once you break a rule, you will be duly punished.
You can’t attack a staff be it a waitress, a cleaner, whoever you are, you can’t intimidate anyone here. Rules are rules, obey them or be punished. If you see our corporate governance structure, you will be amazed at how developed it is, unlike what obtains in the nation, where the executive interferes with other arms of the government, that doesn’t happen here, they are separate entities and they are kept separate.
It is believed that only the rich can join Ikoyi Club 1938, how true is that?
Every human being or organization draws up its rules and regulations. I can decide to from a group where the members wear ‘Afro’, now I expect that only people with like-minds, people who are interested in wearing ‘Afro’ that will join the group, we have a standard we need to maintain, so it is not a question of being only for the elites, that is why before you can be admitted into the club, you have to be mature, minimum of ten years after graduation, because we believe that after graduation and you have worked for 10 years, you would have reached a certain level in your career and you must have gained some promotions and we believe that by then you must have had some people for which you are responsible.
So by then, you can understand the meaning of authority, of power, of control and responsibility, another thing is we believe that you must have achieved a certain level of comfort for the financial obligation and responsibility of the club, it is worthless to admit members who can’t service your obligations.
To maintain this place, it cost a lot of money, all of the services our members enjoy cost a lot of money and they must be responsible for it.
So you need to have that sense of financial responsibility. Joining the club comes with two different sets of financial commitment, the first is what we call ‘entry fee’, for the entry fee, you are paying your contribution for all these infrastructure that has been built over the years, they are valid and there is a portion that you have to pay because some people paid to put them in place, the second is the ‘half-yearly subscription’ which is used to maintain the club on regular basis and it makes sense because all the food and drinks and recreational fun you get here are not priced the way they are priced outside. Go to a lounge in Lagos and see how much a bottle of beer is sold, our price here is controlled, it is just factory price and the margin was introduced to cover running costs; payment of salaries, running the generators and others. Here, you come in and enjoy the best facilities at the cheapest prices so the club gives a lot of value for your money.
What are the challenges facing the Club?
Clearly, in our environment, there are a lot of challenges. Some of these values we hold dear have been tested over time. Cost of maintaining and running the club, and because we run a 24-hour club, power supply alone is a big challenge, because we have members who come here late at night to play squash, table-tennis because people who have gone to work all day, get home and eat dinner late come here to get their daily dose of exercise, I don’t know any other club that does that here in Lagos, so there are challenges maintaining those standards but we are doing our best to make sure that the facilities are still there for everyone to enjoy.