By Bukar Bolori
Indigenous crude oil production company, Oriental Energy Resources Limited has completed and handed over new and upgraded essential teaching and learning facilities to Community Primary School, Ibuot Utan in Effiat, Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. The event took place on Thursday, 18 August 2022, demonstrating the company’s commitment to education and human capital development in the state, especially in Effiat community.
A press statement on Sunday by the company, said prior to the project by Oriental Energy, the Community Primary School, with more than 60 children and a total of four classrooms barely had seats in the crumbling classrooms, no restroom, and no uniforms nor shoes for most of the children, adding that Ibuot Utan is a small village within the island of Effiat which is relatively isolated from the mainland part of Mbo local government area.
According to the statement, the restoration and provision of new facilities by Oriental Energy is part of its wider initiative of building safe schools to support inclusive and quality education across communities. This is in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, as well as evidence of implementation of the Community Assisted Project component of Oriental Energy’s Project Specific Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Effiat community.
The statement said in addition, the infrastructure development project was awarded to a contractor who is a native of Effiat.
For the same school, another Effiat contractor will be awarded contract for the renovation of the Teachers’ Quarters, thus making Oriental Energy a shining model of compliance with Nigeria’s Local Content Guidelines of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Content Development Act of 2010.
A Primary 2 class teacher, Ruth Paul Etim, who grew up in the Ibuot Utan village and had been teaching for over five years at the school was delighted with the development.
She said: “I am so happy. We didn’t even have a toilet at all. Now we have 3 new lavatories, and new buildings with 4 classrooms and blackboards. We now have so many chairs and desks. More than enough for our children. Can you see how happy they are?” For Board Member of the Akwa Ibom State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Sir John Udoh on behalf of its Chairman, said the Oriental Energy is identified as a pacesetter in educational development in Mbo and the state at large.
“This is one sure way the company has proven that education is serious business. Investing in education, especially at this basic level, is an investment in economic development and prosperity of the state.”
The Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Education, Rose Bassey, who represented the Commissioner of Education, Mrs Idongesit Etiebet at the hand over ceremony, said the administration led by Governor Emmanuel Udom placed emphasis on education and in turn, the ministry always welcomed collaborations that made education a success in Akwa Ibom.
The ministry described Oriental Energy as public-spirited and proactive about prioritising CSR.
“I’m so happy with what the organisation has done in the education sector. Even gone beyond this to tertiary level scholarships and training young people in technical skills.”
The handover will now ensure the school management, Effiat community and SUBEB take full ownership of the facilities. In addition to the Community Primary School project, Oriental Energy’s imprints in Effiat include participation of thousands of the community people at the annual 5-day free medical outreach for the people of Mbo. It also includes a 5-day capacity building workshop on Sustainable Community Development Planning and Management which had 10 people from Effiat out of 26 participants in July 2022. Likewise, the community’s young people were among 250 undergraduates from various LGAs in Akwa Ibom State awarded with fully funded scholarships for the 2021/2022 academic session.
Also, 7 Effiat young persons were among 15 beneficiaries who have begun a one-year Technical Skills Acquisition Program in Ibeno, Akwa Ibom State. Oriental Energy bears full cost of the training including monthly stipends, personal protection equipment, accommodation, provisions and other essential needs. As such, Community Leader, Barr. Asuquo Okpo advised youths in Effiat to shun vandalism and support growth on the small island.
“This project started 10 years ago but it was disrupted. There would have been so much more development here. Oriental Energy has been a faithful partner.”
Also present was Engr. Emmanuel Inyang, Director of Petroleum Development from the Ministry of Power and Petroleum Development on behalf of the Commissioner, Dr John James Etim.
The Commissioner said, “Oriental Energy has proven to be a responsible corporate citizen and a partner to the state. Their social investment in the education sector is incomparable. Handing over the school project to the Community Primary School will enhance human capacity development in the community.”
He added that for His Excellency the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, the improvement of education remained essential for creating intellectual and high-capacity manpower.
In the same vein, the Commissioner for Labour and Manpower Planning, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mr Sunday Umana urged the community and pupils of the school to take ownership of the project and safeguard them from vandalism in order to serve the purpose they are meant.
The Managing Director of Oriental Energy Resources Limited, Mustafa Indimi, represented by the General Manager for Operations, Mr Augustine Ekeigwe, said the company is focused on creating positive sustainable footprints through projects and programmes that would improve the quality of life of people in various communities in Mbo LGA.
“Effiat community has benefited from our social investment interventions since inception. We consider the communities in our areas of operation as critical stakeholders in our business. And will continue to do so through proactive engagement and strategic social investment,” the MD said.
The core areas of Oriental Energy’s social investment interventions are community health, education and human capital development, enterprise development and support, and capacity building for sustainable development. Since commencement of its commercial production, the company has become one of Nigeria’s thriving indigenous companies with full local content capacity. Oriental Energy now leads other marginal field operators with its responsible operations and interventions