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Taking CSR to universities

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Taking CSR to universities

It is a well known fact that education is the bedrock of every society. Bearing that in mind, the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board(NCDMB) in conjunction with a consultant company Mahogany 21st Century Concepts Limited initiated an essay competition as a way of encouraging academic excellence a with some financial and other benefits that would help undergraduates achieve their academic dreams.

Of course, education in Nigeria is so expensive although an adage said if education is expensive, then try ignorance. Of course, that is costlier. That is the reason NCDMB, despite her other corporate social responsibilities at its disposal decided to encourage leaders of tomorrow who would take over from the current leadership of the board and other organizations in the country. Established eight years ago, NCDMB has been on the move, encouraging local contractors and indigenous businessmen and women among other things before venturing into academics last year through this essay competition.

The annual National Undergraduate Oil & Gas Essay Competition is designed to promote the Nigerian Content (NC) initiative and create the awareness for Nigerians to build local capacity to participate effectively in Nigerian’s Oil and Gas industry. As a means of test running the programme, the consultant and Managing Director of Mahogany 21st Century Concepts Limited, Eyinimi Omorozi, had said the essay competiton was restricted to only 100 and 200 level undergraduates of Niger Delta last year but added that NCDMB is a Nigerian project, thus the extension of the programme to all Nigerian 100 and 200 level undergraduates.

This year’s Essay competition tagged NCDMB Annual National Undergraduate Nigeria Content Essay Competition, according to the MD was to promote academic excellence amongst undergraduates in Federal and state owned universities in Nigeria as well as creating awareness for Nigerian youths, who are the real drivers of the Nigerian content initiative.

The competition of course is expected to build capacity that would prepare them adequately for effective participation in Nigerian oil and gas industry and develop the talent to create value from that opportunity. The Essay competition, the MD disclosed was designed as a strategic tool to further drive the vision of the Simbi Wabote-led NCDMB for the youths.

“The whole idea is initiated as a strategic tool to further deepen the NCDMB established mandate especially with the youths, who are indeed the real drivers of the Nigerian Content (NC) initiative to enhance their proper understanding of the local content policy and effectively positioning them to explore the opportunities in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.

“In the same vein, the exercise is designed to as a conscious attempt by the NCDMB aimed at promoting the writing skills, analytical and research skills potentials of young Nigerian undergraduates in federal and state owned universities in the country to stimulate academic excellence.” The second edition of the essay competition, which was concluded on October 31, incidentally saw James Ubon, a 100 level undergraduate of University of Calabar emerge the overall winner among the top ten with a cash gift of N500, 000 and a brand new laptop.

The essay submitted by the 27-year-old was adjudged the best amongst over 3,000 entries contributed by first and second year students from universities across the country. Ubon, who is currently studying Electronics and Computer Technology hails from Ikot Oquot in Nsit Ubium Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.

Expressing gratitude to NCDMB, Ubon said that kind of competition was very necessary, stating that a whole lot of young people were finding things like this as a means of getting busy. “I encourage every multinational company and government agencies that are involved in any form of advocacy to promote these kinds of things. Get into the universities and get these young ones that are interested in things like this. “Our youths have to work hard. If you want to get a better reward, you have to work.

The future is for the young ones. I will advise the young ones to learn skills that will add value to their future.” He advised the government to use essays like that and every other form of engagement that the youths need at this time to keep them busy. The top four finalists included Mr. Peter Abegunde, a 200-level law student of Joseph Ayo Babalola University; Deseye Odubo, a 100 level Medical Student of Niger Delta University, ayelsa State; Melex Tamaradoubra, a student of Medical Laboratory, Rivers State University, Port Harcourt and Osatohamen Ebhodaghe of the University of Benin.

The top ten finalists received cash prizes. Presenting the award to James Ubon, the executive secretary of NCDMB, Simbi Wabote, represented by the Ginah .O. Ginah, general manager, Corporate Communications and Co-ordination Division, had disclosed that the board decided to sponsor the essay competition because it fell in line with their mandate to build both human and infrastructural capacities and academic excellence in the oil and gas industry. He said: “This competition offers us the opportunity to engage Nigerian youths especially the undergraduates and introduce them to the concept of Nigerian content.

“We also want the students to understand that oil and gas, which is the mainstay of our economy, must be used to link other critical sectors of the economy-power, manufacturing, infrastructural and growth and everyone has a critical role in the process. “We are trying to inculcate this philosophy in them that in anything, you remember Nigerian content and you are buying anything, you should ask yourself how many Nigerian content is in this thing I’m buying. That way you are helping the economy of Nigeria. “It is part of mandate to educate Nigerians generally and build capacity in the oil and gas industry. Information is key in this technological age and that key is going to be operated through communication.

You have information but how you use and communicate that your information is key.” Also Eyinimi Omorozi said “We want to create awareness in the young people on this Nigerian content initiative because we see the oil and gas industry as an industry full of potentials and over the years, we recognize clearly that Nigerians are actually going to play significant roles in real operations in oil and gas industry.”

Expressing happiness for the successful hosting of the Essay competition, the highly elated MD said “Today we are happy that the second edition of this essay competition has been successful. The board is just eight years old and these people you see today are going to be the future leaders of the board and you can see the topic ‘Harnessing local content potentials for oil and gas industry in Nigeria.’

“A lot of the jobs are being handled by these IOCs and there is huge capital flight from Nigeria to the outside country. So the question is what do we do to bring our own young men to the industry. And of course, you can’t participate in what you don’t have competence. The idea is to challenge these young ones to know what is there in the local content. What are the opportunities? How can we benefit in terms of development? The idea is to promote academic excellence but under it to expose them to the benefits in the local content so that they can participate in the oil and gas industry actively.

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