29 May 2014, Sweetcrude, Lagos – Nigeria’s organised private sector has advanced its lead in the drive to achieve sustainable development in Nigeria through the establishment of an informal network of business leaders united by a shared commitment to provide leadership for sustainable development in Nigeria.
In direct response to this growing trend, Mutiu Sunmonu, Managing Director, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria, organised a gathering of 31 business leaders recently in Lagos, with the professional support of CSR-in-Action – which is officially registered as a corporate social responsibility awareness and advancement initiative.
Business leaders representing the critical sectors of the Nigerian economy, including oil and gas, telecoms, financial services, real sector, pharmaceuticals and business services, unanimously threw their weight behind the establishment of a Nigerian regional network of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), a CEO-led organisation of forward-thinking companies that galvanises the global business community to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment.
Thanking everyone for taking time out of their busy schedules to attend the event, Sunmonu spoke of the need for the ‘vision’; one where corporate Nigeria works in sync towards collective and long-lasting good.
He said “Nigerian corporates today support sustainability programmes in their respective areas of influence quite adequately, however, no platform currently exists for businesses across all industries to share experiences, best practices, and advocate for business positions that transform lives and communities from what they are today to the greatness they can be, tomorrow.”
“If there is one area we do not need to compete as businesses, it is in the goodness of our heart to our society and environment”, he added.
Sunmonu expressed optimism for the newly established network, saying: “I expect the deliberations to result in the transformation of the Nigerian society”.
In his contribution, Sir Chris Ogbechie, Director of the First Bank Sustainability Centre of the Lagos Business School (LBS), digging from his vast knowledge of sustainability matters, reminded all present that “It is very important to provide a platform for businesses to explore sustainable development, share knowledge, experiences and best practices and advocate business positions on sustainable development issues in a variety of forums, working with government, non-governmental and inter-governmental organisations”.
Ogbechie latter called for those who would help in setting up the business council expected to galvanise the private sector towards holistic and sustainable strategies. Representatives of all 31 companies represented at the event stood up and linked hands in a visible show of unity for progress. Of that number, 12 business leaders – Accenture, Coca-Cola, Empretec Nigeria Foundation, Etisalat, First Bank, Flourmills of Nigeria, Heirs Holdings, Intel Corporation, Interswitch, Standard Chartered Bank, Unilever and the First Bank CSR Centre – further volunteered their time towards working out modalities for the establishment of the council.
Bekeme Masade, Executive Director, CSR-in-Action, expressed belief that this was the right step towards sustainable development. She said “CSR-in-Action’s by-line is ‘the collective action network;’ and it is, therefore, fulfilling to be recognised through Shell’s forward thinking engagement of our organisation to manage this process. I am certain that what with the commitment of CSR-in-Action, Shell and the other strong companies from the diversity of sectors, we will certainly be making an impact starting from the short term.”
The forum was attended by Wolfgang Goetsch, Managing Director of Julius Berger; Chief Keith Richards, Chairman of Promasidor Ltd, Mr Mike Ikpoki, Managing Director of MTN Nigeria and Mrs Bola Adesola, MD/CEO of Standard Chartered Bank and Chief Mrs Stella Okoli, founder, Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.
Other guests included Seni Adetu of Guinness; Bolaji Osunsanya of Oando Gas and Power; Phillips Oduoza of the UBA Group; Austin Avuru of Seplat Petroleum; Adebayo Ayorinde of Afren Nigeria; Yinka Sanni of Stanbic IBTC, Onawari Duke of Empretech Foundation Nigeria, and Adeola Azeez of Deutsche Bank.
Senior Executive representatives included Deji Haastrup of Chevron, Odunewu Bashirat of First Bank, Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan of Access Bank, Katja Schiller-Nwator of Heirs Holdings and Kufre Ekanem, representing Nigerian Breweries.