With the launch of its ‘What Can We Do Together’ campaign, the MTN Foundation has continued to use CSR as a means of providing essential social services. Raheem Akingbolu reports
Living without electricity could be awful. The experience aside been frustrating affects the socio-economic well-being of any society. The pathetic situation of electricity in Nigeria has really made it a herculean task for communities to enjoy one of the basic amenities a nation should provide for its citizenry. Today in Nigeria, many communities that can no longer wait on the endless promises of their representatives have resorted to self-help at least to have some form of electricity.
“We have been trying to gather money, about 8 million naira so we can purchase a new electricity transformer for the community. Unfortunately, the more we think we are getting close to it the farther we are. The cost is just too high for us to achieve this time”. Those were the words of Mr. Okunade Taoreed who is the Chairman of the Ever Green Estate Community Development Association at Idi Ori Community in Abeokuta North local government, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Lifeline for Idi Ori Community
Before now, the residents of the Idi Ori community numbering about 7,000 have been connected to one electricity transformer which they share with another community. “The truth is that our social and economic activities in this community have been very pathetic. Coming back from a hard day’s job into the ‘dark’ can be very disheartening. Almost every other time, the fuse of the transformer is either cutting out due to the very heavy load or there are sparks which are also the result of heavy load on the transformer. Unfortunately, you are deprived of a good night sleep that would have helped to relax your tired body and launch you into the next day’s job. But now I think we are going to be greatly relieved with this new 500KVA electricity transformer donated by the MTN Foundation” said Mr. Rasheed Azeez another resident in the Idi Ori community.
‘What can We do Together’ Campaign
When the MTN foundation decided to ask Nigerians about what the company can do together with them to improve their standards of living, provision of adequate electricity supply came up as one of the strong suggestions among Nigerians. Reasons for these are not far fetch in the face of the continuous efforts of the Federal government to ensure an improved electricity supply across the country. However, even when such provisions are made, the transformers must be made available to transfer the power generated to the homes of Nigerians.
“With this transformer, I can now go back to my cooling system business. At least, I am assured that when we get electricity supply, I am no longer challenged with the issues of low electricity currents which might not be enough to power my freezers and cool my items. I am really glad that this transformer has been energised and it looking very good” said Mrs. Folashade Aina, who resides in the community.
In 2015, when MTN Foundation initiated the What can We do Together Campaign, the organisation was clear in its brief aimed at meeting the needs of Nigerians by supporting communities with the provision of portable borehole water, school furniture, electricity transformers and also making donations to orphanage homes. The Foundation is committed to supporting the efforts of the government across all levels in their quest to improve the standard of living among Nigerians.
The Executive Secretary, MTN Foundation, Ms. Nonny Ugboma had stated during the recognition of nominators in the phase one of the project that “the nomination strategy was adopted to ensure active involvement and participation by members of the public in communities across the country. Typically, we select project beneficiaries using Expressions of Interest and the custodian ministries – be it Health, Education will apply for projects to benefit their States by nominating hospitals or schools to benefit for the project as the case may be. But for this project, we invited members of the public to nominate sites for projects”.
Reaction and appreciation
One may then understand the excitement of residents of the Idi Ori community. “Really, I was shocked that the call I received that afternoon that our community has been selected is actually true. A lot of times, and I dear say that most Foundations in Nigeria hide under the pretence of a Foundation but are actually profit making. However, I can personally verify with this experience that the MTN Foundation is not one of them because I can see and feel what we are actually doing together” Okunade enthused.
Expressing his delight, the Business Hub Technical Manager of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC), Mr. Adeniyi Adeniji acknowledged that the provision of the electricity transformer will help increase revenue for IBEDC while also relieving them of the stress of electricity distribution in the community.
“We appreciate this gesture and we encourage other companies to emulate because we believe together we can do greater things. No doubt this transformer will make it easier for more people within the community to connect to the national grid and that will definitely allow better distribution and more income for us as a company. The transformer donated is of IBEDC and international standard and we promise to do everything, engineering wise to ensure it functions optimally” Adeniji said.
However, Adeniji advised members of the Idi Ori community to ensure the facility is secured “since IBEDC cannot be at the community for the twenty four hours in a day. It is only when the facility is secured and not vandalized that we all can enjoy.”
The MTN Foundation What Can We Do Together campaign is in phase two. Like in the first phase, 200 communities selected after a very rigorous process are set to benefit from the programme. Despite the challenges, “MTNF made a commitment to implement 200 additional projects and as an organisation with integrity, it is important for us to keep our word and deliver as promised to the communities. We will continue to support Nigerians within the limits of available resources, especially prior commitments made to beneficiaries” Ugboma concluded.