Giving up to its theme, Against The Odds, the maiden edition of the Stanbic IBTC Youth Leadership Series provided a platform where three exceptional Nigerians spoke on the imperative of resilience, hard work and perseverance to achieve individual, corporate and national goals.
The event, which held in Lagos last week, attracted a huge audience of students and youth, bankers, investors, artists, captains of industry and the business community.
Guest speakers, Kechi Okwuchi, a survivor of the ill-fated Sosoliso plane crash of December 2005; Member Feese, survivor of the United Nations Building bomb blast in Abuja; and Cobhams Asuquo, renowned music producer, who was born blind, said if they could become role models by overcoming the grim challenges they faced, then nobody should give up the quest to succeed.
Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc Chief Executive, Yinka Sanni, said underlining the youth empowerment motivational series is a mission by the organisation to inspire the youth, who are the leaders of today, not tomorrow, to strive to achieve their potential, regardless of the odds. The three lead speakers, he said, symbolised what is when people imbibe the evergreen clich? ? ?where there is a will, there is a way.?
According to him, the future of Nigeria and Africa is in the hands of the youth and there is no better time to arouse and deepen their knowledge and entrepreneurial skills than now, adding that Stanbic IBTC is constantly exploring innovative ways of expanding the scope of its coverage and focus on the youth segment, otherwise known as the millennials, given the importance of the demography to national development, entrepreneurship drive and economic growth and development of the nation.
?The Youth Leadership Series is tailored after the annual Stanbic IBTC Business Leadership Series, an annual event that facilitates the sharing of knowledge and information among local and international participants who are drawn from key sectors of the economy.
?The overarching objective is to stimulate deeper engagements and outcomes for the sectors as well as unlock investment opportunities in the country,? Sanni said, adding that the Group decided it had become imperative for it to retool and re-strategise its efforts geared towards building the next generation of Nigerian leaders ? the youths, in line with its commitment to growing that very important segment of the society.
?The popular saying that children are the leaders of tomorrow, as clich? as it may sound, for us at Stanbic IBTC, we believe that the youths are the leaders for today and because we understand just how easily one can get distracted or discouraged by the different challenges we face in our lives; our youths therefore, need to be aptly and constantly guided, mentored, inspired and motivated, not just to attain their goals, but in order for them to actualise their full potential,? Sanni added.
Member Feese said the grace of God and prayers of Nigerians made her stronger and more determined to live and succeed, in the aftermath of the Abuja bomb blast, as the easier option would have been to live with the pain and trauma of the experience for the rest of her life. She pledged to continue with her advocacy work to support and encourage people in similar situations.
Kechi Okwuchi, who survived the Sosoliso crash, later went ahead to bag a First Class Degree from the University of Thomas, Houston, Texas and emerged a finalist at America?s Got Talent. Her simple message to anyone faced with any affliction is: ?don?t let your pains stunt you growth? and ?don?t allow the scars to retard you.?
Cobahms Asuquo, the only blind child among seven siblings, said his condition gave him no choice than to live with it and find fulfillment. The first survival principle he learnt early in life was to negotiate, which gave him the room to get what he lacked and to take control of his destiny.
He urged people to always bring something to the table as ?nobody owes you anything. You must work until nobody sees your disability. What they will see is your ability and contributions to society. Your disability simply disappears?.
?Through the travails, experiences and achievements of these exceptional young individuals, in spite of the hard-knock life and the odds, we hope to inspire, motivate and provoke the can-do spirit of our youth community and imbibe in them the strength of character, and tenacity to never give up but to constantly aspire to attain their full potential in life,? Sanni concluded.