By: Nelson Agbajor
The Delta State Governor, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa has commended Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc, the operator of the NPDC/SEPLAT Joint Venture assets, OMLs 4, 38 and 41, for promoting community development and contributing to increasing access to quality education while also inspiring peace in the communities.
The Governor who was represented by the Commissioner for Higher Education, Professor Patrick Muoboghare, lauded SEPLAT at the commissioning of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Sapele Teaching Centre, in Sapele, Delta State, for promoting access to higher education in the area through the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) programme and thereby helping to eliminate the tertiary educational constraints and challenges of the area.
Also, a former Minister of Information and Culture, Chairman of the Delta State Advisory Council and an esteemed academic and political figure in the state, Professor Sam Ejite Oyovbaire, has extolled SEPLAT for upholding high level of transparency and integrity in the allocation, disbursement and utilization of the fund allocated to its communities for the project.
He applauded the company, for particularly, ensuring the funding and completion of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Sapele Teaching Centre in Sapele in Delta State without the usual community crisis associated with the release of such development funds to communities in many areas of the Niger Delta.
Speaking at the Commissioning ceremony, the Chairman of Sapele Okpe Community, Patrick Akamovba, said the community was grateful for the support provided by SEPLAT, especially for assisting the community with civil engineers who assisted in scoping of the constructed and renovated structures, project planning, supervision/ monitoring, and ensuring value for money. He said the NOUN Centre would encourage many people from the community and the neighbouring areas to get higher education and contribute more to the economic and social development of the area and indeed the entire local government.
Commissioning the centre, the Vice-Chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Prof. Abdalla Adamu, who was represented by the Deputy VC (Academics), Professor Uduma Oji Uduma, said the Sapele study centre would complement the existing centre in the Warri axis and cushion the tertiary educational constraints in Sapele and environs.
Commenting on the feat, Roger Brown, Chief Executive Officer, SEPLAT, commended and congratulated the community for cooperating with the company in the selection and execution of the project, adding that education is key to economic, political and social dynamics of the society. He remarked that the Teaching Centre will make education available and close to the citizenry both in the rural or urban areas of Sapele, Ethiope West and Okpe Local Government Areas and the environs including providing many women who would not have had the opportunity to attend University outside their area of resident because of the need to take care of their family and in certain cases, support them financially by pursuing daily economic activities.
He explained that access to quality open and distance education in Sapele will boost the local economy and significantly reduce the cost of access to quality education and therefore, many parents who would ordinarily have been discouraged to send their children school because of big financial burden will be encouraged to do so in addition to mitigating against hazards associated with long road travels.
The SEPLAT CEO, Brown, added that: “SEPLAT remains highly committed to providing opportunities for greater educational development for its host communities and Nigeria at large. He explained that quality education is a crucial tool for improving the prospects of higher income levels for individuals, and for the economic growth of local communities, states and the nation. With the commissioning of the centre, SEPLAT in partnership with its host community, Sapele, is helping the nation to achieve Goal 4 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which is focused on ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting life-long learning opportunities for all.”
Annually, the NPDC/ SEPLAT JV set aside millions of naira for allocation to its host oil and gas producing communities, flow station and gas plant communities for sustainable community development projects and programmes in line with the its General Memorandum of Understanding (GMOU), community management strategy and participatory development promotion principles.
SEPLAT contributes to providing access to quality education at various levels with investment in education programmes which brings benefits to the communities where the company operate and supporting the government in attaining the national education objectives.
It should be noted that since 2010 SEPLAT has made enormous corporate social investment yearly in education and other sustainable community development projects and programmes, contributing to the provision of quality education through the construction of school buildings, renovation of schools, construction and equipping of laboratories and teachers quarters and running the PEARLs Quiz as well as promoting teachers development programme, which commenced last year.
The ceremony was attended by the Delta State Commissioner for Higher Education, Professor Patrick Muoboghare, representatives of the Orodje of Okpe Kingdom, His Royal Majesty Orhue 1, Major General Felix Mujakperuo (rtd; CFR, mni), Professor Sam Oyovbaire and other prominent chiefs and sons and daughters of Okpe kingdom amongst others.