The yuletide season has come to life in Lagos with the 2021 Zenith Bank Christmas Light-Up Ceremony, which held at the Ajose Adeogun Street Roundabout, Victoria Island, Lagos, on Saturday, November 20 2021.
With the theme "Let There Be Light", this year marks the 15th edition of the traditional Light-up Ceremony at the Ajose Adeogun Roundabout. Following the onset of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which stopped the annual event from holding last year, this year’s ceremony is indeed a momentous and significant one as it signals the return of what could be described as a spectacle that has come to be recognized by not only Lagosians but Nigerians in general as an iconic place and tourist attraction because of the beautiful decorations adorning the length and breadth of Ajose Adeogun Street - home to Zenith Bank's Headquarters, during the yuletide season.
The official lighting ceremony, which was performed by the Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, supported by Executive Management, saw thousands of the Bank’s staff and customers joining virtually and through the Bank's social media platforms.
Speaking during the ceremony, Onyeagwu praised Quantum, the company responsible for the annual decorations, for the very outstanding, gorgeous and extremely beautiful work that they have done this year. In his words, “each year when we come in, and we see the decorations, I keep asking myself what next? Would there be something better than what we have seen and I see that at the end of every season, they come up with innovations and creativity, and they make it even far better and take it to a higher level”.
Onyeagwu expressed his delight that this year's Light-up Ceremony is able to hold following the cancellation of last year's edition due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the EndSARS protests. According to him, “last year was a very unusual year. Covid threw a curveball at humanity, and as a result, it changed the way we engaged and the way we live; it transformed so many other things, and as a country, we had some unique challenges. As a result of those challenges, especially the EndSARS protest, last year we couldn't light up, not because there was no money. It was because we had to grapple with Covid-19, and again during the EndSARS protest, the fittings that we employ in having this light-up were terribly vandalized, and it required time and resources for us to put it together. We didn't want to have any undue exposure or create vulnerability. Therefore we had to allow time to put the fittings back, and as soon as we have put it back, here we are today".
He noted that Zenith Bank is very happy to be able to reconnect with activating the spirit of Christmas, with the return of the annual turning on of the Christmas lighting and the decorations of Ajose Adeogun Street, which can compare and compete with any decorations anywhere in the world – be it in Europe, North America, or Asia.
Whilst wishing everyone a Merry Christmas filled with joy, love, peace and harmony, he enjoined all to remember that Christmas is also a time for sober reflection when we think about things that we couldn’t do and focus our thoughts on being better people and building a better society and country. He also used the opportunity to remind Nigerians and the whole world in general that the fight against COVID-19 is far from over. He, therefore, appealed to everyone that as “we celebrate Christmas, we should celebrate responsibly, maintain social distance, wear our masks and for those of us who haven't been vaccinated, please take your vaccine for vaccination is saving lives".
The Light-Up Ceremony is one of the many Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Initiatives of Zenith Bank, as the Bank continues to lead in corporate social responsibility (CSR) contributions and spending by Nigerian financial institutions. Indeed, Zenith Bank has clearly distinguished itself in the Nigerian financial services industry as an institution that is committed to building a more sustainable and inclusive economy and one that promotes responsible business practices in Nigeria through the integration of sustainability principles in its business operations.
Zenith Bank’s sustainability and CSR initiatives are hinged on the belief that today’s business performance is not all about the financial numbers – the Bank believes that an institution’s social investments, contributions to inclusive economic growth and development as well as improvements in the condition of the physical environment, all constitute a balanced scorecard.
Through its CSR initiatives, the Bank has embodied the overarching objective of the 17 SDGs, which provide a framework for addressing the major challenges confronting our society. Its social investments are targeted at health, education, women and youth empowerment, sports development and public infrastructure enhancement. Overall, Zenith Bank's total social investments in 2020 stood at NGN3.29 billion ($8.62million), representing 1.66 per cent of its Profit After Tax.
The Bank remains committed to furthering the economic, cultural and social development of host communities, particularly through community-based initiatives and philanthropy. As a good corporate citizen, it continues to deliver projects that have long-term social and economic benefits for the communities because it believes that its business is only as strong as the communities in which it operates.
To demonstrate its commitment to creating and expanding opportunities, the Bank regularly makes donations towards the setting up of ultramodern ICT centres in several educational institutions across the country. It also supports various developmental projects, and healthcare delivery causes in Nigeria and contributes to the development of sports in Nigeria through its sponsorship of the Zenith Women Basketball League and the Zenith Bank Delta State Principals' and Headmasters' Football Competitions, to mention a few.
The Bank also demonstrates leadership when its host communities deal with a crisis. For example, following the unfortunate gas explosion incident of March 15, 2020, which led to the loss of lives and properties at the Abule-Ado area in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State, Zenith Bank made a donation of NGN100 million to the Emergency Relief Fund set up by the Lagos State Government for the victims of the explosion.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Zenith Bank's commitment to sustainability has not waned, as the Bank donated NGN1 billion as part of the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), a private sector-led initiative to support the Nigerian Government to combat the Covid-19 crisis.