Touching Lives

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As part of a CSR initiative, Nigerian Breweries Plc recently inaugurated developmental projects in rural communities in Enugu State, writes Christopher Isiguzo

The true meaning of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) came to the fore recently as the top hierarchy of the Nigerian Breweries Plc literary relocated to rural communities of Oma-Eke in Udi and Ogwofia Owo in Ezeagu Local Government Areas of Enugu State for the sole reason of taking developmental initiatives to the people.

Since the company began operations at its Ama Breweries at the 9th Mile Corner Enugu on October 24, 2003, it has made several positive contributions to the overall progress and development of the surrounding communities in Udi and Ezeagu as well as to groups and organisations within the state. Before the latest activities in Oma-Eke and Ogwofia, the company had constructed school blocks, health centres, boreholes, civic centres and ICT centres as well as carried out scholarship and empowerment programmes for indigent students in the state.

Specifically, penultimate week, the company inaugurated water projects and toilet facilities at the Community School, Oma-Eke, classroom blocks at Ogwofia as well as the Nigeria Custom Service Mess within the capital city.

The inauguration of the projects attracted notable leaders of the respective communities who rolled out the drums in celebration of the projects which according to them would go a long way in improving their lives and those of their children.

At the inauguration of the water borehole project and toilet facilities, the Managing Director of the company, Nicolaas Vervelde who was represented by the company’s Corporate Affairs Adviser, Kufere Ekanem, said that the project was part of the projects so far executed by the Heineken Africa Foundation which was established in 2007 for the purpose of supporting healthcare, water supply and sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa.

He noted that the implementation of such projects are usually done by the local Heineken operating company which in this case is the NB Plc with 11 locations in the country. He acknowledged the partnership of the Pan African Community Initiative on Education and Health (PACIEH) led by Prof Uche Amazigo. Vervelde noted that the project officially named as HAF 16 water and sanitation for school nutrition aimed at complementing the school’s nutrition project.

“The project aims at ensuring availability of potable water as essential component of good health and sanitation,” he said, adding that it would also enhance the health of the pupils and teachers.

Also speaking at the inauguration of the school blocks with six classrooms furnished with tables and chairs for all teachers and pupils, a library with work-stations and books with conveniences for all classes, the NB Managing Director said the company would continue to identify and respond positively to the cause of the people through their various corporate social investments in education, environment, water, youth development among others.

He said the company had in 1994 inaugurated the Felix Ohiwerei Education Trust Fund in order to take a more active role in educational and research activities towards the development of education in Nigeria.

“What you see here today is an outcome of this investment. Within Udi council alone, we have inaugurated similar school blocks in the past including Nsude, Ngwo Uno, Awhum and Eke communities,” he said, noting that the quality of projects they have so far executed showed their commitment towards revitalising education and human capital development in the state.

He commended Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for his positive efforts in the development of education in the state, noting however that since government alone could not carry the entire burden, as a responsible corporate citizen, the company was committed to supporting the state in various sectors. While appreciating the support they received from the Igwe, President-General and the people of Ogwofia community, the principal and teachers throughout the construction work and preparation for the inauguration, Vervelde also urged the teachers and pupils to protect the facilities. He expressed hope that the project would improve the quality of learning and knowledge enhancement for the children.

In their respective responses, major stakeholders in the communities expressed appreciation to the brewery for their corporate social responsibility initiatives which had greatly impacted on the people positively.

The Chairman of the School Board Management Committee of Oma-Eke Community School, Ngwu Ejike and the Head Teacher, Felicia Ike, the principal of Community Secondary School, Ogwofia, Alex Uzodinma, the traditional ruler of Ogwofia, HRH Igwe Tom Inyama, said that the projects were timely as they would go a long way in addressing the accommodation and water needs of not just the students and pupils but the villagers.

Speaking, the principal of the school, Uzodinma, said that the day of the inauguration was remarkable in the history of Community Secondary School Ogwofia Imezi Owo.
He disclosed that the school was battling with accommodation problems, which NB Plc has come to solve by constructing “six ultra modern classrooms and well equipped library.

“Ours is now a modern school in a rural environment which for the first time is being experienced in this part of Enugu State. To God be the glory.”

Uzodinma noted that with the NB Plc gesture they are now indebted to the company.

“What we owe to this company is to make sure that these gifts are well utilised and used to build and develop our children for a better Nigerian society and the world at large,” he said.

He, however, appealed to those present to help the school renovate the dilapidated building overlooking the NB Plc new building, saying that “the building is now dilapidated, cracked, sinking, and is posing a danger to the school and the students.”

Similarly, the traditional ruler of the community, HRH Igwe Tom Inyama thanked NB Plc for the school building.

“You would have seen with your eyes and for yourselves the beautiful and exquisite job done by the multi-national organisation for Ogwofia and her crescent youth. I dare say that whenever we count our successes and our blessings the contributions of Nigerian Breweries Plc to Ogwofia’s well-being will be enacted on a bold page and that page will be written in letters of gold.

“We thank them with all our heart and believe that in their expanded programme of corporate social responsibility they will soon be around with more goodies for our rustic community. For now, we call on the Holy and omnipotent ruler of the skies to prosper their business so that our shares from their profits will continue to grow in leaps and bounds,” he prayed.

Also speaking, the President General of ODU Ogwofia community, Chief Fred Onwuamaeze said it was a thing of joy that a new page was being opened in the educational sector of the community.

He noted that the new classroom blocks are no doubt among the best classrooms in Ezeagu Local Government Area.

“While thanking you, I am also appealing to NBL to help with other amenities like borehole to enable the students to have water to run these conveniences you have provided here.

“It will equally be good that you provide the community with job opportunities and scholarship as reached in our request. Provision of these things will help the growth of the community. Be it known to you all that Nigerian Breweries is now a friend to Ogwofia Owo community,” he said.

On his part, the Transition Committee Chairman of Udi Local Government Area, said the company had been up to the task in delivering on their corporate social responsibility, noting that with the array of projects it had executed in the area in recent years, it was obvious that the company’s presence in Enugu State had yielded so much benefits to the people.

He therefore appealed to the state government to continue from where the company had stopped by providing other facilities in the rural schools as that would go a long way in complementing the efforts of corporate organisations.

The traditional ruler of Eke community, Igwe C. H. Onuoha, expressed appreciation to the providers of the project appealing however that the school fence be constructed in order to protect the projets from hoodlums. He also solicited for the renovation of the school’s classroom blocks.

In his remarks at the inauguration of Ogwofia community school blocks, the chairman of the Post Primary Schools Management Board (PPSMB), Nestor Ezeme commended the NB for their commitment jn partnering with the state government to boost education in Enugu State, promising to put the classroom blocks to effective use. Ezeme noted that the state was still disposed to tapping further into the company’s Education Trust Fund in order to address other areas of needs within the sector in the state.

According to him, infrastructure, quality teaching and learning facilities remained paramount in education. He therefore directed the Chief Supervising Principal of Udi education zone, Vincent Nwarie to post more teachers to the school in order to meet up with their academic requirements.

In a brief speech before inaugurating the school, the Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo who was represented by Mrs. Grace Eneh pledged the readiness of the state government to partner groups and organisations that are committed to assisting in the provision of quality education to the state, noting that government alone could not handle the challenges facing education in the state.

Similarly, the Nigerian Breweries also commissioned the Nigeria Customs Officers’ Mess which it constructed and furnished which it noted was not just in fulfillment of an earlier promise but an acknowledgement of the role the service plays in the nation’s economy. The Mess also stands out as one of the concrete benefits of the Nigerian Breweries/Nigeria Customs annual interactive forum aimed at achieving better and mutually beneficial relationship.

Ekanem who read the address of the company’s Managing Director at the event which attracted the presence of top government functionaries including Commissioner for Commerce and Industries, Ogbu Nwobodo who represented Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi noted “our relationship with the customs both at headquarters and command levels has continued to get better and stronger. We will continue to work harder to sustain this and take it to even higher levels”. He therefore announced that following the approval from the Customs Comptroller General, the 2016 Interactive Forum with the service would take place in Kaduna very soon.

He expressed optimism that the service would continue to see the company as credible partners in their desire to remain major contributors to the country’s economic development.

“Ama Brewery, our flagship contributes the highest revenue to the Customs Service in Enugu/Ebonyi/Anambra Command. While the management of the brewery led by Ethel Emma-Uche will continue to ensure that the lines are running constantly so that the revenue to the service will remain on the increase, we look up to the service to support our affordability drive by keeping our UCA at a competitive level and ensuring a level playing field in the industry at all times,” he stated.

The Customs Area Command, Amaka Emmanuel, expressed delight at the monumental structure pledging the readiness of the service to always partner with the company even as he applauded their corporate social responsibility initiatives in the South-east region.