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Lessons from Zenith Bank, mentorship and Gov. Udom Emmanuel

The recent colourful funeral of the father of the incumbent governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Udom Emmanuel has come and gone, but sight and sound bites still oozing out from the ceremony concerning Zenith Bank and philosophy of staff mentorship are still reverberating across the nation’s banking and entrepreneurial spaces.

As expected, top national dignitaries showed up and unfailingly the Zenith Bank family big boys showed up.

The roll calls at Zenith Bank started from the former chief executive, who is now the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr Godwin Emefiele and the founder, Jim Ovia.

Ovia book royal fathers
Chairman of Zenith Bank, Jim Ovia, centre with Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo and royal fathers at the launch of his new book, Africa Rise and Shine in Lagos on Monday, September 17, 2018

It is important to quickly point out that the rallying factor is the fact that Governor Udom Emmanuel was a former Executive Director of Zenith bank before his successful advent into politics.

Fact checks showed that together the three gentlemen have held different top positions in Zenith bank.

However, it is very strategic to recall that the story of Zenith Bank started 1990, when the founder, Ovia, at the age of 39, founded Zenith bank just with the sum of 20 million Naira from investors.

But today, the story of the bank has nothing to do with the paltry N20m at strategic management; investment thinking and intuitive business intelligence of the trio have overshot the runway growth projections of the financial giant to worth of over $16bn.

Zenith Ebenezer Onyeagwu
Ebenezer Onyeagwu, GMD of Zenith Bank Plc

It is important to recall that both Jim Ovia and Godwin Emefiele were on ground in Zenith bank in 1990 even as Udom Emmanuel joined in seven years later in 1997.

Currently, Jim Ovia is worth over $900 million, one of the richest men in Nigeria.

According to Henry Izuchukwu Ukachukwu, “There is something seductive about success. Also, there is something about working as a team and growing together over the years.”

“There is something about building a company from ground up and becoming a national and continental powerhouse.

“These three men are successful men.

“These three men are made for life.

“The question tugs at my mind.

“What do we young men/women of this generation talk about when we meet?

Udom Akwa Ibom
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Obong Emmanuel Udom

“What platform or brands are we building that will outlive us?

“As young men/women where do we see ourselves in the next 10 years?

Ukachukwu further queried Nigerian youths saying “When we meet in our circles, do we talk about which industry we would dominate or sector that we would be major players in the next 10 years?

Going philosophical, Ukachukwu queried more asking “Do we meet only to share our sexcapades, drink alcohol, smoke and do drugs?

“Do we meet only to banter about the English Premier league?

“Do we meet only to talk about the political parties and candidates we support?

“Jim Ovia is Udom Emmanuel’s mentor.

“He showed him the ropes over the years.

“As young men/women are we willing to be mentored?

“Do we have the patience to wait?

“Are we not all hungry for overnight success?

“The big boys/ big girls are made men/ women.

“They will always look after themselves.

“They will always be there for each other.

“Would we ever join this circle?

“10-20 years to come, where would we find ourselves?

Zenith-Bank Hqs
Zenith Bank Hqs, Ajose Adeogun, VI, Lagos

In his final parting remarks, Ukachukwu, a public affairs commentator made it clear that “The choices we make today will play a part in our future,” and prayed that “May the current Nigerian youths not fail in life.”