For players in the Nigerian energy space, partnerships with their host communities have remained a major booster to value creation and retention to all stakeholders. The yearning for pragmatic Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to make life and living of the people meaningful has become indeed justifiable.
Most operators in the energy sector in Nigeria have undertaken projects in the name of CSR, but the effect of these projects has remained the bone of contention.
CSR has acquired great relevance in the academic world and in firm management in recent years. Defined as organisations’ commitment to contribute to sustainable economic development, CSR includes issues such as employee labour conditions, improvements in products and services, progress that seeks to satisfy the needs of the local community and advances in environmental management, among others.
Since multinational companies (MNCs) are organisations that can incorporate advances and improvements in social issues in the different areas in which they operate, the literature increasingly considers them as precursors of economic and social progress One of the main reasons these firms invest in advanced CSR practices is to improve their reputation
To make up for the quest for the desired better quality life by the host communities and by extension the states, operators in the Nigerian energy space have taken several bold and practical steps to redefine the meaning of Corporate Social Responsibility in the manner that has changed the hitherto unacceptable narratives of the host communities.
For instance, among such laudable annual programmes and projects that usually gulp millions of naira and also meet Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) and international best practice is the PEARLs Quiz for secondary school students in Edo and Delta States by Seplat Energy Plc.
The firm began the PEARLs quiz empowerment initiative involving all Secondary Schools in its host states in an all-round curriculum quiz competition in 2012 after it made its major debut in the oil and gas industry.
Since 2012, the programme has targeted rural and urban schools in its host communities as a way of improving the educational standards of students in Edo and Delta states. The overall objective of the programme is designed to enhance academic performance particularly in the host states and Nigeria in general.
Participation for the programme has been made accessible to all secondary schools in Edo and Delta states and the competition holds at the school level along the line of the senatorial zones and ends at the states level to determine the winners. The quiz contest comprises selected questions in various subjects following approved school curricula.
At the end of the final stage, the first three top performing schools and the winning students are rewarded with various prizes. The PEARLs Quiz programme which is implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Education in the respective states is expected to stimulate healthy competition among schools in the designated area, encourage learning and reward outstanding academic performance. The initiative is considered by many as a step in the right direction, knowing full well that the role of youth in the development of the country is key.
Seplat Energy has taken the decision to target the youth with this programme because young people represent the future of any community, and indeed the nation, as youth are very active and need to be assisted to channel their energies in the right direction. They also need to be encouraged to embrace the spirit of scholarship and supported to understand and appreciate the fact that there is a good reward for scholastic excellence.
The company has committed significant resources to meticulously craft this programme to rekindle the spirit of academic excellence and healthy competition in private and public schools in Edo and Delta states.
The Company, on Wednesday, October 27, 2021, concluded the 10th edition of the Seplat Energy Pearls Quiz, which was held at the Government House Asaba, Delta State with Peniel Academy, Boji Boji Owa, Agbor, Delta State emerging the winner.
Two Edo State secondary schools, Pioneer Education Centre and Igbinedion Education Centre, both in Benin City also clinched the second and third positions, respectively. While Peniel Academy coasted home with the star prize of N7million, it also got a trophy and the three students that represented it got N100,000:00 each; Pioneer Education Centre took the second prize of N3million, a trophy and its three students got N75,000:00 each; just as Igbinedion Education Centre got one million naira, a trophy and its three students got N50,000 each.
At the conclusion of the keenly contested quiz competition, every teacher from all the schools that participated got a tablet (a communication device) while the teachers of the last four schools that got to the finals were given a laptop each.
Worthy of note is that the participating students displayed good talent performances during the competition to the admiration of Edo and Delta States’ functionaries and management of Seplat Energy that witnessed the ceremony.
Goodwill messages from Delta State Government and NPDC were mixed with commendations for Seplat Energy in which other corporate bodies were tasked to emulate Seplat Energy’s initiatives in developing their host communities.
The governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, represented by the commissioner for Secondary Education, Mrs Rose Ezewu, commended Seplat and its joint venture partner, the NPDC for sustaining the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme in the last ten years.
“It is no gainsaying that NPDC/Seplat Energy JV has made a remarkable impression in the education industry in both Delta and Edo states. It is a milestone that has left a lasting impression in the minds of students, teachers and the schools through interventions in education,” the governor said.
He called on other corporate organisations to emulate the Seplat Energy initiative, insisting that the mantra of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) ‘Education For All’ is the responsibility of ‘all’, implying that education should not be left for the government alone.
In her remarks, the director, External Affairs and Sustainability, Seplat Energy, Dr. Chioma Nwachuku, represented by the Western Assets Base Manager, Mr. Emmanuel Otokhine, explained that the Seplat Pearls Quiz as an educational initiative, is targeted at boosting the quality of education in the states where Seplat Energy operates.
She reiterated that the programme is also aimed at providing facilities in schools in the states within areas of operations of Seplat Energy.
While thanking the governor of Delta State, Okowa, for his support, Dr Chioma also congratulated the winning schools and urged others to improve on their performances stressing that the Pearls Quiz is very transparent.
“In line with the Sustainable Development Goals 4 (SDG4), the Seplat Pearls Quiz ensures inclusive, equitable quality education and promotion of life-long learning opportunities for public and private secondary school students in our host states of Edo and Delta,” Dr. Nwachuku added.
Also, the CSR Manager of Seplat Energy, Esther Icha, disclosed that the oil company has introduced several new awards for participating schools including Best Behaved School and Most Promising School, amongst others.
Basking in their euphoria of winning prizes, students of Peniel Academy, Pioneer Education Centre and Igbinedion Education Centre expressed profound appreciation to Seplat Energy for the opportunity given to them to showcase their talents.
This year’s Pearls Quiz also featured chronographic and cultural dance performances by students of different schools. The firm has continually demonstrated commitment to a long-term infrastructural development of her host communities, as well as, to growing the human capital and intellectual aptitude of the people in these States.
Apart from the PEARLS quiz, the organisations also hold several other Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, such as teachers’ empowerment programme known as STEP, whose second edition kick-started earlier in the year.