The maiden edition of the Sterling Leadership Series, an initiative of Sterling Bank Plc, was recently launched at the bank’s head office in Lagos.
The leadership series themed, “Corporate-Culture Intersection”, according to management of the bank, is an affirmation of its commitment to promoting arts and cultural productions.
The bank said it is driven by the belief that art and cultural productions are a part of the larger economic ecosystem, saying it is much more than delighting people and can be an important part of a nation’s economic development and growth strategy.
In his speech, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, who was guest speaker at the event, addressed current knotty issues of migration, particularly the death of thousands of migrants on the Mediterranean Sea, the indifference of some developed countries to the plight of migrants, mass burial, loss of identity and hopelessness of majority of young people as well as the ongoing xenophobia in South Africa.
On the leadership and future of Nigeria, he subtly berated the younger generation for their lethargy and connivance with the old brigade to shut themselves out of leadership. He charged the Nigerian youth to brace up and challenge the status quo because the political elite will not surrender power without a fight.
Soyinka urged the audience to be good followers by holding leaders accountable for their stewardship from time to time, adding that Nigeria has been unfortunate to be led by the bourgeoisie who think that leadership is their birthright.
He applauded Sterling Bank’s initiative to send its employees home to collect their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) in preparation for the general elections, describing it as civic solidarity. He encouraged the electorate not to give up on the country’s leadership because the signs of another change are already showing.
According to him, banks should take the initiative and promote artistic entrepreneurs. He said the contribution of arts to the society is mostly underrated even as he enjoined Nollywood to wake up so that banks can invest more in its business because it is a viable industry. He regretted the extinction of art works across the country, remarking that many art works have disappeared, from Oyo to Bida, among other notable art centres in the country.
Soyinka commended Sterling Bank’s decision to specialise in five key areas of the economy under the acronym of HEART: Healthcare, Education, Agriculture, Renewable Energy and Transportation. “I really appreciate your effort in the transportation system while I encourage you to put some effort in the railway system. Solar power is very good, and I use it sometimes in my house in Abeokuta. I will like to see PHCN fully destroyed.”
In his welcome remark, Chief Executive Officer of the bank, Abubakar Suleiman, described the literary giant as a living legend whose large body of work is positively influencing people on the continent and across the globe.
Others present at the occasion include Mr. Yemi Odubiyi, Executive Director; Mr. Emmanuel Emefienim, Executive Director, all of Sterling Bank.