Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC) has said it has spent a total of N17billion on the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) clusters in Rivers State.
The initiative gave communities opportunity to decide and implement projects and programmes that had lasting impact on people’s lives.
The funding, the company said, since the GMoU concept took off in 2006, has enabled the 19 clusters in Rivers State to embark on projects covering health, education, water and power supply improvement, sanitation and infrastructure development.
Under the terms of the GMoU, SPDC and its joint venture partners provide secure five-year funding for communities to implement development projects of their choice, which are managed by Cluster Development Boards under the guidance of mentoring NGOs.
Currently there are 39 active GMoU clusters in Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa and Abia States and since inception in 2006 a total of $239 million (N44.36 billion) has been disbursed to these clusters to fund development projects.
“The success of the GMoU initiative has proved what could be achieved when government, international oil companies, communities and NGOs worked together for the common good.,” said SPDC’s General Manager, External Relations, Igo Weli, at a presentation of the 2019 edition of the Shell in Nigeria Briefing Notes to journalists in Port Harcourt last Friday.
Shell in Nigeria Briefing Notes is an annual publication detailing the activities of the business interests of the global energy giant in Nigeria covering SPDC, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company, and Shell Nigeria Gas.
On another level of social investment in Rivers State, Weli listed the Community Health Insurance Scheme (CHIS), which was established in 2010 in partnership with the Rivers State Government, as an SPDC JV flagship project that delivers affordable integrated health care to beneficiaries. Clients in the scheme pay N10,000 per annum which covers about 95 per cent of the people’s primary and secondary health care needs including child birth, seizure disorders, diabetic and ophthalmic care at the Obio Cottage Hospital.
“10 other hospitals in Rivers State also enjoyed ‘robust health intervention scheme by SPDC JV.”
In education, he cited the establishment of the first centre of excellence in Marine Engineering and Offshore Technology at Rivers State University in Port Harcourt established in 2017 which runs an 18-month Master’s and Diploma programmes in Marine Engineering, Naval Architecture as well as Offshore and Subsea Engineering. This, he said, was in addition to the many SPDC JV scholarship schemes which date back to the 1950s.
In enterprise development, SPDC JV has trained more than 460 young men and women from Rivers State under the Shell LiveWIRE programme between 2013 to 2018.
The Shell LiveWIRE programme was introduced in 2003 to help young entrepreneurs to convert their bright ideas into sustainable businesses, creating wider employment and income opportunities for communities.
LiveWIRE was extended to Ogoniland in 2014, with the objective of raising living standards and reducing crude oil theft through the promotion of sustainable alternative livelihoods.
Supporting Ogoni youths in sustainable alternative livelihoods was in line with one of the recommendations of the 2011 United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Report for the restoration of the Ogoni environment.
In 2018, 100 Ogoni youths from communities near the Trans Nigeria Pipeline participated in training with 80 top performing trainees receiving business start-up funding totalling more than $90,000 (N27.27 million).
To date, the LiveWIRE programme has trained 7,072 Niger Delta youths in enterprise development and provided business start-up grants to 3,817.
To mark Nigeria’s centenary anniversary, SPDC and its JV parties donated a modern public library to the Port Harcourt Literary Society in November 2016. Equipped with books, internet access and reliable power supply, the library to which SPDC contributed around $5 million (N1.58 billion), has continued to deliver significant benefits to many residents of Port Harcourt.
On the general development of the Niger Delta, Weli noted that between inception of the Niger Delta Development Commission in 2002 and the end of 2018, Shell companies alone contributed N375.16 billion to the commission for the purpose of facilitating the rapid, even and sustainable development of the Niger Delta region into an area that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful.
He said, “We’re proud of our extensive social investment footprints in Rivers State, which in some cases even stretch beyond the SPDC joint venture. He noted that the responsibility for the development of communities, societies or states resides primarily with government and community stakeholders themselves.
“It stands to reason therefore that abdicating that responsibility for development to the private sector either fully or substantially is, in my assessment, one of the key issues militating against sustainable development not just of Rivers State but of the Niger Delta.”