By Emeka Nwokocha
The 1st phase of the Empowerment and Capacity Building Programme of the OML 26 Community Development Board (CDB) under the sponsorship of NPDC/FHN Joint Venture, came to fruition Wednesday 11 July, 2018 as 304 persons benefitted from the scheme.
The empowerment programme was held in Ozoro, headquarters of Isoko north local government area of Delta State.
Starter packs and grants were given to the beneficiaries. 189 youths and women of various trades, received starter packs ranging from sewing machine, hair-dryer, welding machine, freezer, ice scream making machine, laptop, grinding machine etcetera. While 115 students received grants to enable them continue their studies in various institutions in Nigeria.
In his address, Prince Johnson Akpomalue, Chairman, OML 26 Community Development Board (CDB), described the occasion as a life changing initiative aimed at engaging the youths, students and women of OML 26 host communities in productive business enterprise and quality academic pursuit.
He said the capacity building programme being executed by OML 26 CDB, was a fulfillment of the community development template of the GMOU between the NPDC/FHN Joint Venture and the host communities. His words, “it is important to state that this is the first phase of the Capacity Building Programme of the Board, the second phase will kick-off in no distance time. Therefore, those who are not in the list of beneficiaries in this first phase will surely benefit in future.”
While advising the beneficiaries not to sell their starter packs in order not to truncate the purpose of the scheme, Prince Akpomalue said, “the Capacity Building Committee of the CDB shall be visiting the beneficiaries periodically to ensure that the purpose of the programme is not defeated.”
Continuing, he commended the management team of NPDC/FHN 26 AMT and the members of OML 26 CDB for their focus and commitment in ensuring the vision of OML 26 GMOU is fulfilled, stressing that “the Board will continue to strive to be transparent in our huge responsibilities to all our stakeholders.”
Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Okpowo Blessyn, Manager, Community Affairs, AMT, described the occasion as a practical step to building a progressive and industrious society, saying, “the money we are investing in our youths today is an investment for the future of Nigeria. “The objective is to reduce rural urban drift of the youths by providing opportunity for self-employment at community level.
“The programme also serves as a forum for advocacy, civil education and governance amongst the youths with a view to curbing youth restiveness and violence, even as it provides a pool of skilled labour to meet the demand for self-reliance through entrepreneurial training.”
Continuing, Okpowo assured the communities in cluster1 of the OML 26 of regular power supply before July 12, 2019. His words, “Beyond the empowerment and capacity building we are doing today, we have plans to do more, we are going to embark on a huge capital project, by this time next year, the four communities in cluster 1: Ozoro, Ellu, Ovrode and Ofagbe will have 24 hours electricity.
“The gas being flared at Ogini field will be used to generate electricity. We are bringing turbines from USA which will be installed at the Ogini field to generate electricity which will be distributed to the communities. We will have community utility board to manage the electricity to ensure effective use of power.”
Okpowo’s rare promise was greeted with a thunderous ovation.
He assured the jubilant beneficiaries that their businesses would experience a boom when constant power supply in the communities would have been achieved next year.
Hon. Emmanuel Egbabor, Executive Chairman of Isoko north LGA., charged Mr. Okpowo to fulfill his promise, saying it would catalyse economic and infrastructural development in isoko nation, even as he promised that his office would provide the necessary support to ensure the project is achieved without any hindrance.
Engr. Aweka Awenaghagha, Director, Delta State Ministry of Oil and Gas, described the empowerment programme as a welcome development, saying it was a showcase of Delta state government’s commitment to capacity building in the oil bearing communities in recent times. Adding that the efforts by the NPDC/FHN Joint Venture to convert the flared gas at Ogini field to electricity in the nearest time was a policy in the right direction and in sync with the state government’s sustained policy on environment friendly business activities in the oil and gas value chain. Continuing, he said that the government would not relent in ensuring operators in the oil industry comply with the procedures guiding their operations.
Two beneficiaries of the starter packs, Grace Ediforo and Iroghene Okpelogbo from Ellu and Okpe-Isoko communities in Isoko north local government area, were visibly excited as they lauded the sponsors of the programme, saying it would encourage the youths to start productive business activities and there would be a drastic reduction in crime in the society.
The occasion was attended by traditional rulers, government functionaries, community leaders and other stakeholders of OML 26.