A Worthy Corporate Citizen

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To mark the World Malaria Day, Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company embraced a vulnerable rural community under its network, writes Peter Uzoho

When a wise, smart corporate entity is out for business, it makes no mistake of toying with its chief success determinants: the customers and host communities. It takes into consideration the total well-being of its consuming population and comes up with initiatives aimed at affecting their lives in positive ways.

For such forward looking corporates, the health of their product users is paramount and this lends credence to an enduring cliché: ‘health is wealth.’ Without having sound health to work and earn, payment for product and services becomes a tall order, which falls short of an organisation’s bargain.

Against this backdrop, the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (IKEDC) has since its entrance into the Nigerian Energy sector, developed a number of programmes and projects intended to protect its teeming consumers and host communities against diseases.  Every year, the organisation embarks on health outreach trips to communities within its network especially, the under-served and high prone areas as part of its corporate social responsibility undertakings.

Recently, in commemoration of the 2018 World Malaria Day and in line with its commitment to the prevention of malaria disease, IKEDC through its Agbule-Egba Business Unit, visited the people of Adiyan, a densely populated community in Ifako-Ijaiye Local Government Area of Lagos State.

Adiyan Community Multi-purpose Hall was full to the brim as men, women and youths trooped out in their numbers and were presented with insecticide treated mosquito nets to help them prevent the spread of malaria infection in their community. The IKEDC team also used the occasion to enlighten them on the need to keep their environment neat to ward off mosquitoes around them.

Speaking at the event, Business Manager, Abule Egba Business Unit, IKEDC, Mr. Mohammed Abdulahi, said the visit to the community was the organisation’s little way of giving back to the community under its network and that it was also a form of keying into the World Malaria Day celebration.

Abdulahi who was represented at the occasion by the Head, Commercial Services, Abule Egba Business Unit, EKEDC, Mr. Wole Oyeleye, said the distribution company recognised malaria as a disease that affects sub-Saharan Africa in a high magnitude.

“It affects the overall productivity of the community; it affects children of the community who are one of the under-served communities. So we are committed to providing insecticide treated mosquito nets to rural communities where we operate so as to stem the tide of malaria,” Abdulahi said.

“You can see that this community needs this kind of intervention. As an organisation, we take the health of our customers very seriously because when they are healthy and they are able to work, that’s when we will be assured that they can pay their bills. So affecting the lives of our customers and host communities is very paramount to us. As we’re doing it here, this is also taking place in other communities within our network.

“Apart from distributing these mosquito nets, we are equally advising them to try and keep their environment neat and clean. Mosquito thrives in a dirty environment, so to prevent malaria is to keep your environment clean,” he added.

Giving further insight into the programme, Supervisor, Health, Safety and Environment, Abule Egba Business Unit, IKEDC, Mr. Olaniyi Olayiwola, described malaria as a big deal across the world and one of the sicknesses that claim lives in large numbers.

He said their visit to the community was to join the rest of the world and the World Health Organisation to enlighten people about malaria, its causes and preventive measures.

“So as a responsible organisation, Ikeja Electric takes this enlightenment programme to our customers and communities around us. It’s part of our act of giving back to the society. So celebrating with Adiyan people and giving these mosquito nets to them is our own way of helping them to prevent the effect of the malaria disease,” Olayiwola said.

“Adiyan is one of the vulnerable communities in the state and you can see this from the terrain here. They live in an environment that is prone to malaria infection because of high presence of mosquitoes. So we’re here to try to encourage them to live healthy and protect themselves against malaria. So giving them the nets is one of the ways we can achieve that healthy living among them.”

According to him, the company takes advantage of opportunities provided by such gatherings to also talk to people about health and safety issues regarding the use of electricity.

“We tell them why they should not build their shops or houses under a high voltage electricity; how they should guard against stealing and vandalism of our facilities; we talk to them about earthing their houses against electric surge; we tell them not to endanger their lives by going to cut tree branches that are under a high voltage electricity but to inform us instead.

“So we enlighten them about all these and more just to make sure that they are safe and secure while using power. And when we do this we realise that the rate of third party death reduces drastically. As a matter of fact, we recorded only one third party death last year which is a significant improvement from what we recorded previous years,” he explained.

Meanwhile, before the distribution of the mosquito nets, members of the community who had large stock of grievances over poor services, seized the moment to ventilate them.  The team who obviously, had anticipated such complaints before the trip, swiftly responded to all issues raised and assured them that all issues concerned were being taken care of.

The Manager in charge of Adiyan Undertaking, Abule-Egba Business Unit, Mr. Johnson Isuh, who addressed the receptive audience, explained the cause of the problem to them and efforts being made to rectify them.

He urged the members of the community to cooperate with the organisation by paying their bills as at when due, noting that that would enable them to have the needed fund to generate and give them power.

In their overwhelming joy and feeling of relief, members of the community who received the mosquito nets glowingly appreciated the company for their kind gesture.

Earlier in his welcome remark, Chairman, Customers Consultative Forum and chieftain of Adiyan Community Development Council, Mr. Tayo Adesokan, described the distribution of the nets as a commendable one and thanked them for selecting the community for its intervention.

“We welcome you to our community. We were informed that you would be coming here today to create awareness on the malaria disease and its prevention as a way of commemorating the World Malaria Day which was celebrated yesterday (April 25),” Adesokan said.

“We really appreciate your coming and we’re particularly delighted to hear that you will be distributing free anti-malaria treated nets to our people. This is highly commendable. We the people of Adiyan express our heartfelt appreciation to the management and staff of Ikeja Electric for demonstrating high sense of responsibility and kind gesture in selecting our Community Development Council (CDC) as a beneficiary of this programme. We’re now assuring your management of our forum’s continued support in terms of payment of bills and bringing in unity in our CDC,” he added.

Also expressing her joy and appreciation, Mrs. Felicia Olarewaju, said: “I’m very happy about what Ikeja Electric has done for us today. They gave us free mosquito nets and they advised us on how we can kick malaria out of our community. These nets will help us a lot because mosquitoes bite us a lot here. So I really thank them for this.”

She added: “Although we don’t have light for some weeks now, but as they have explained to us what they are doing to address the situation we are hoping that they will make good their promise. And we’re also promising them that we will be paying our bills as long as they give us light. So, I pray that God will give them all the resources they need to make sure that we enjoy light.”

On his part, the Secretary of Ireakari Community Development Authority, one of the communities under Adiyan, Mr. Alaba Ajayi, said: “I use this opportunity to thank Ikeja Electric for giving every member of our community mosquito treated net. What they did today is really a surprise and we pray that God Almighty will make the company grow.”