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Access Bank Conference: Stakeholders react on sustainable economic leadership

PETER EGWUATU

In a bid to address sustainable leadership issues in the various sectors of the economy, be it in capital market, banking, insurance etc, the Access Bank conference has provided insightful commentaries from investors and other stakeholders from both local and international community.

Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

For the first time in Nigeria, the conference hosted by a firm in the banking industry addressed the issue of leadership from a holistic perspective, as it presented outstanding success stories from a variety of internationally recognized speakers.

With over 800,000 shareholders spanning several Nigerian and International Institutional Investors, Access Bank has enjoyed what is arguably Africa’s most successful banking growth trajectory in the last ten years. It ranked amongst Africa’s top 20 banks by total assets and capital in 2011.

In terms of  embracing sustainable leadership, the conference, hosted by Access Bank Plc, brought together some of the world’s brightest minds, who paid tribute to the departing Chief Executive Officer of the bank, Aigboje Aig – Imoukhuede.

In just a few years ago, Aig – Imoukhuede succeeded in transforming the bank from a small player in the Nigerian financial landscape, to one of the most prominent and respected bank in the country.

This remarkable transition can be attributed, among other things, to the exceptional qualities of leadership he displayed over the years. The Access Bank conference aspired to capture the essence of good, sustainable leadership, highlighting what it means to be a leader in today’s world.

The event  which was essentially to discuss and share ideas on how to embrace sustainable leadership in a rapidly growing economy drew high profile delegates, including former  Ghanaian President, John Agyekum Kufuor (2001-2009), President of Carbon War Room and former President of Costa Rica, Jose Maria Figueres (1994-1998), Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Initiator, Chairman and Pilot, Sola Impulse Project, Bertrand Piccard, Managing Director, Bank of Industry (BOI), Ms. Evelyn Oputu, Olympic Champion and Chairman of LOCOG, Sebastian Coe, Chairman, and host of others.

During panel discussions at the conference, exceptional leaders and world-renowned thinkers guided participants through the principles of good leadership, and explore their multiple facets.

President George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States of America stated in his remark, reasons his Administration supported aids to Africa. According to him “There is need for resources in Africa. It’s a US interest to encourage economic growth in Africa.

This is strategic for the US because it also creates opportunities for American entrepreneurs. Passion for lives influenced decisions to put in place a strategy that achieves results. In order to achieve results, it is important to set goals. The initiative was aimed at improving the living condition in Africa.”

Commenting at the conference, Fola Adeola, a former Chief Executive, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, and Chairman, Fate Foundation said, “The Mandela phenomenon is one of providence: reaching the souls of the people towards producing.

Leaders must respond to issues that come their way. The response of a leader to an issue will determine his greatness or failure. The purpose of the leader is to engender leadership across the organization down to the bottom. As the saying goes, leadership emanates from the top but does not reside there.”

Mr. Sebastian Coe, Olympic Champion and Chairman of LOCOG said, “The challenge of leadership is the time and space needed to make decisions. Leaders should be able to answer the question of ‘Why’ behind their leadership role or task.”

In his own remark, Mr. Christopher Meyer, Founder, NERVELLC and Senior Legal Adviser Deloitte said “Some specific skills peculiar to sectors can be learned. Management is technical and Leadership is not.

The practice of leadership comes with tradeoffs. A leader is always perceived to have all the answers. Active leadership is continuous conversation and being conversant with change. The information age is about innovation which requires a new set of skills.”

On his own part, Magatte Wade, Founder and CEO, Tiosanno said, “There is leadership crisis in Africa. A lot of the times leaders are expected to know it all, to have all the answers. People tend to wait for someone to do something for them.

The young people find it difficult to adequately communicate the challenges they face. The development of minds and nurturing is also there. There is a downside of traditional education in Africa and devolution of power is critical, while Gender bias is also another issue. Inspired people should believe in themselves. There’s a Mandela in everyone.”

Mr. Gbenga Oyebode in his own remark said, “The concept of sustainable leadership, which Mandela epitomized, was evident in the fight for unity in diversity, his resourcefulness and his conservatism. All these are in line with the theme of the event. Access Bank is committed to sustainable leadership, which can only be achieved by building sustainable leaders across the country’s landscape.

Sustainable development must be an integral part of any economy for it to succeed. With the diversity of the world, we need to understand what it takes to be leaders. A much broader intervention would be required to drive sustainable leadership.


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