By Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
An indigenous oil company operating in Rivers State, BelemaOil Producing Limited, has awarded scholarships worth more than N100 million to 374 indigent students of its host communities.
The scholarship, which was in three categories- postgraduate, undergraduate and post-primary- is part of the company’s corporate social responsibility policy, under the NNPC/BelemaOil Joint Venture (JV). Out of the 374 beneficiaries, 78 are postgraduate, 175 undergraduates and 121 post-primary school students.
Speaking during the official handing over of the scholarship cheques to beneficiaries in Port Harcourt recently, the President of BelemaOil, Mr. Jack-Rich Tein Jr. said the scholarship is not a display of wealth, but recognition of the important role education plays in the lives of the young ones and the future of the host communities.
“We are here not just to celebrate the success that has come to them, but to also honour the privilege given to us as a company to serve. And we recognise very importantly that if you joke with education then you are joking with the future and if you fail to grab these young ones who have the enthusiasm and that flair to pursue their academic dream you are limiting the unravelling of future opportunities that they would have used to grow themselves as well as society.
“And I believe very strongly that what we have come here to celebrate is not just a display of so much wealth but a display of interest; that believing in the young ones of today is unlocking the future oftomorrow and that is making the society a better place.”
He called on the beneficiaries to see the scholarship as an opportunity to develop themselves and unlock their talents and not misuse it.
Fielding questions from journalists shortly after the programme, Tein explained that the scholarship is worth over N100 million annually, pointing out that it is for students in Nigerian schools and overseas.
“The total scholarship per annum is over N100 million. What we have given today is over N70 million cheques and we have other students in Cyprus, UK, America, Canada, Ghana, Malaysia, Philippines and in Nigerian schools. What we have done is not just to show wealth but so that they can in turn do the same for society when they come out.”
He added that the company is also hoping to create about 12,000 jobs if its proposal with the presidency is approved, adding that the company’s model is aimed at making sure it supports the local communities where it operates.
“The Belemaoil Model is all about making sure that the local communities where we operate and competent Niger Deltans are given technical opportunities to showcase their competences such as alliance with technical companies that provide specialised types of jobs where they can partner with them and begin to provide those services.
“We also make sure that we create strategic capacity development through training for the local communities. We have also awarded scholarships like you have seen today.
“Basically as we speak now, we have our offshore floating and offloading terminal sailing to Nigeria. We are expecting to build some pipelines, we are also expecting to create some opportunities based on proposal we put forward to Mr. President and we believe very strongly that the president is a man that loves the Niger Delta region and he wants to see employment everywhere; he wants to see peace return very quickly; he wants to make sure that the operating communities are in harmony with the operators and with the federal government so that wealth creation can begin to improve.
“So we have put forward a programme that we believe will create additional 12,000 employments which can turn around about 36,000 jobs. And we believe that as soon as he gives a nod to it the employment will begin to roll out,” Tein stated.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the occasion, Alabo Tonye Graham Douglas, lauded the initiative and charged the beneficiaries not to misuse the opportunity given to them.
On his part, the Managing Director of National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), represented by Mrs. Tolu Adefuwa, restated the NNPC’s support for the scheme.
“If you are able to educate the children at the young age you are rest assured that our future is sustained because it means we are raising the next leaders, we are raising the next generation. So we are encouraging them not just to be educated but take it to the next level.”
Also speaking, the Executive Vice-President, Finance, Administration and Human Resources of BelemaOil, Mrs. Rosemary Asiegbu called on the beneficiaries to make good use of the opportunity and emulate the president in his vision.
“Aside the joint venture with NNPC, he has joint venture with the communities. So the young ones, this is not just another event of giving you scholarship, we want you to emulate and see him as your mentor so that all his efforts will not be in vain.”
The beneficiaries thanked the company for the opportunity, saying that it would ease their financial challenges.