As part of its commitment to create a cleaner and safer environment for the citizenry and aquatic life under its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative known as Sterling Bank Environmental Makeover (STEM), Sterling Bank Plc has carried out environmental cleaning exercises in 23 states across Nigeria.
The cleaning up exercises involved cleaning of markets, roads and beaches to commemorate the World Recycling Day, which held recently in every country in the world.
The exercises were simultaneously held in Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Kwara, Ondo, Ekiti, Kano, Jigawa, Kaduna, Abuja, Delta, Anambra, Edo, Abia, Imo, Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa-Ibom, Gombe, Bauchi, Plateau, Katsina and Lagos.
More than 1,000 participated in the clean-up exercises; including staff of Sterling Bank and volunteers. In Lagos, it was executed in partnership with the Oniru Kingdom, Rite Foods, First Exploration and Petroleum Development Company, Bonnie Bio, Sterling One Foundation, Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), African Clean Up Initiative and Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA).
Speaking at the beach cleaning exercise at Oniru Beach, Lagos, Mr. Abubakar Suleiman, Managing Director and CEO of Sterling Bank, said the bank embarked on cleaning exercises in 21 states out of the 24 states it is partnering with across the country.
The CEO who was represented by Mr. Tunde Adeola, Executive Director of Commercial and Institutional Banking at Sterling Bank remarked that, “We have been on this journey for more than 10 years. Every time, this happens, we have a cleaner and healthier environment.”
He said, “Sterling Bank is well positioned to do this,” adding that in the last two years, the bank has received recognition and awards for the initiative. According to him, Sterling Bank is also in the forefront of tourism in Lagos State.
Also speaking, Mrs. Mojisola Bakare, General Manager, Corporate and Investment Banking with Sterling Bank said, “Sterling Bank is about impactful banking”, noting they believe that there is no way they will live on this earth without impacting on the environment, adding that for that reason, they have what is called the HEART of Sterling because they have strategically decided that they are going to impact specific areas of growth in the economy.
She said the HEART of Sterling stands for Health, Education, Agriculture, Renewable Energy and Transportation, adding that the head office in Marina, Lagos is being fitted with solar panels and soon it will be sustainably powered by the sun.
“It is very important that we take responsibility for our actions on the environment and preserve its beauty to boost the local economy and attract foreign tourists, and by extension, foreign exchange into the country,” Mrs. Bakare said.
Commissioner for Ministry of Tourism in Lagos State, Mrs. Uzamat Yussuf said, “We are aware that Lagos is a place of aquatic splendour.” She said, “If we have water that is not well protected and sustained, it is better we don’t have any of it at all and that is why it is important for us to sensitise the citizens of Lagos on the proper way to dispose wastes properly.
“When we do not dispose wastes properly, it becomes an issue for ourselves and the state at large because when the rain starts and all our drainages are blocked, then we continue to experience flooding. In developed countries, they sell their beaches to tourists and make huge money as well as increase level of employment for their people.”
The commissioner stressed the need for the citizenry to clean the beaches in a bid to encourage tourists to come and see what the state can offer, adding that the purpose of tourism is to create wealth; which ultimately will increase the GDP of the country. She implored all to continue to manage and dispose wastes properly in a bid to sustain the environment.
Abia State Commissioner of Transport, Mr. Godswill Uwanoruo, commended the management and staff of Sterling Bank for the cleaning exercise which started in the state since 2015.
He said, “I started this programme with them in 2015 when I introduced the bank’s team led by the incumbent CEO, Mr. Suleiman, who was the then Executive Director of Finance to the governor of the state, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu.
“I am happy that they continued the programme by making sure that Abia State is clean,” Uwanoruo said.
He advised other banks in the country to emulate the good gesture of Sterling Bank because it is not an easy thing for members of staff of a company to leave their offices and go out to clean markets and roads.
The commissioner also advocated that the exercise be done monthly or quarterly instead of annually.
The Commissioner of Environment in Bayelsa State, Mr. Iselema Gbaranbiri, who graced the STEM event in the state noted that, “The state government is here with Sterling Bank to show the world that they are synergising and keeping Bayelsa clean.”
Also, Honourable Muktar Baloni, Chairman of the Kaduna North Local Government Area Council, said he was impressed by the level of consistency in Sterling Bank’s environmental cleaning exercise and would want to emulate the bank by directing officials in the local government to replicate what the bank is doing in the local government.
The World Recycling Day is celebrated across the globe every year on March 18th even as recycling is recognised as an important component of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030. It is estimated that the world generates over two billion metric tonnes of municipal solid waste and reusable items annually.
The theme of the year’s event is on the ‘Recycling Fraternity,’ which refers to people who put themselves on the frontline to collect waste and engage in recycling during the multiple lockdowns as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.