Nume Ekeghe tracks the trajectory of three youth corps members who executed notable community development projects in line with the Sustainable Development Goals through sponsorship from Sigma Pensions Limited and in partnership with Junior Achievement Nigeria
In December 2019, NYSC members were required to submit a community development project plan in line with the 17 Strategic Development Goals (SDG) and winners stood a chance to win cash prizes to fund the projects and gain mentoring opportunities from Sigma Pensions. Over 180 entries were received, and four Corp members emerged winners in the respective zones.
Sigma Pensions limited, in partnership with Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN) organised the JAN Career Program themed “Ready.Set.Boss 2.0”, a second phase of the organisation’s yearly program for corp members.
The project was executed as a three-day Career Success seminar which included an intensive Career Success Session, F.I.R.E (Financial Independence Retire Early) Session and the Be Entrepreneurial (BE) session where NYSC Members were trained on complete BE Program modules, design thinking and entrepreneurship skills in order to be properly equipped to pass on the financial literacy knowledge to secondary school students.
The BE Entrepreneurial program saw NYSC members assigned to schools to teach the JAN BE Entrepreneurial program as a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). They also participated in career fairs with major companies for internships/jobs in Lagos, Ibadan, Enugu and Abuja. Participants received a certificate of participation at the event; and finally, competed for the project plan competition in line with the 17 SDG goals. .
The project directly impacted over 200 corps members, 32 secondary schools and 1397 secondary school students.
The NYSC members across different geographic locations were required to submit community development projects in line with any of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. These submissions were made online. Over 200 entries were received and screened, from which 14 corp members emerged for the final leg of the competition.
The shortlisted corp members sent in additional details about their projects and went through a final interview process. The interview focused on the project idea, confidence, passion, executability, budget, timeline and potential barriers. At the end of the exercise, four (4) corp members were finally selected as winners.
The winners were identified as Lateefat Arogundade, who won N500,000 to provide Education Materials For 200 Students at St. Andrew’s Basic School Araoje Via Baare, Oluyole Ibadan; Gloria Oluchukwu Okeke, also won N500, to carry out a campaign on Health Awareness about Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) in Abuja; Deborah Obasi, won N500, 000 to renovate the sick bay at Eva Adelaja Junior Girls Grammar School, Bariga, Lagos State; and Egbedeyi Samuel, won the N500,000 prize to rehabilitate the Water System Through Rain Water Harvesting in Awha Imezi, Enugu State.
In its execution, each corp member was assigned to Sigma Project Managers in each region to execute their selected projects. The staff supervised them for quality control and timely project delivery.
For the winner representing Lagos, Deborah Onyinyechi Obasi, she implemented the renovation of a sick bay at Eva Adelaja Junior Girls Grammar School, Bariga.
According to her, her choice of project was necessitated because of lack of medical facilities in most secondary schools which are often in bad shape due to lack of maintenance and repair. In addition, she said increasing enrollment has aggravated the shortage of medical facilities, which has forced many schools to refer students who are in need of urgent medical attention to health care facilities outside the school environment..
Under the supervision of her Sigma Pensions Project Manager, she successfully completed the project in September 2020
In her work plan, she commenced by approaching the school for approval, received same and did a market survey cost of materials needed. In proceeding, she filled the floor, painted the walls, replaced window louvres, partitioned the sick bay, bought the beds, first aids and waiting chairs, carried out plumbing and electrical works, as well as welding.
With completion, the health facilities in the school became more conducive and healthier due to the newly renovated sick bay. The relevance of the project cannot be overstated. According to Obasi, “on the national level, Lagos State is known as one of the overpopulated states in Nigeria.
“With overpopulation comes increase in health demands making it more and more difficult for schools in the state to provide health care to staff and students. Therefore, the demand for renovation of the sick bay was very high.
“The project was also relevant to goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals: ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, for which the Nigeria Government including the Lagos State Government have pledged to achieve. In summary, the project was considered highly relevant.”
Upon completion, both the principal, Mrs Onagbeso O. O, and the head girl, Gbadamosi Tinuola, commended Obasi and Sigma Pensions for the level of work that was done in ensuring their health needs were met.
Providing Potable Water
Another winner, Samuel Egbedeyi, also carried out the project of constructing a modern rainwater harvesting system project at Akama, Amorji Community of Enugu State. He commenced his project on May 2020, completed and commissioned on July 2020 for the about 2,500 community members.
Egbedeyi emerged winner in the East representing Enugu State. The Bachelor of Science degree holder in Chemistry with First class honors, who is a native of Ibadan in Oyo State is currently serving in Enugu State at Coal City University as a Graduate Teaching Assistant where he co-lecture courses on Organic and Structural Chemistry.
On why he chose Amorji for his pilot project he said, “Amorji community like most parts of Enugu state is faced with a severe inadequate supply of potable water and depends mainly on a few wells and water from Nike Lake which is about two kilometers away.
“Several efforts have been made by NGOs and the government to address this issue by drilling boreholes but most of such projects failed due to the low underground water and large coal deposit in Enugu State.”
As a result, he thought of addressing the problem in a different, sustainable, and relatively cheaper way which is through a Modern Rainwater harvesting system in line with the United Nations SDG number 6, which is to ensure availability of clean water for all.
The project is a Modern Rainwater harvesting System with a fully tiled 20,000-liter underground reservoir, a 1000 gallon over head tank and four tap water outlets. A water collector was mounted on the roof of the Community Town Hall which is used to harvest the water and sent through a filtration unit before sending it into the underground reservoir.
With its completion, the project has provided members of the community access to clean water hence reducing the time spent in water search, thus promoting good health and reducing the spread of water-borne diseases.
Egbedeyi aims to devote himself to learning and research to provide lasting solutions to existing and even future human health challenges.
He said: “I seek to contribute to my profession and the society by cultivating an interest in Chemistry and solution based research in new generation students in Nigeria, rendering selfless service to the community and most importantly giving my all to research to unlock more of the great potentials of Chemistry in making human lives healthier.”
Campaign against Cervical Cancer
In her campaign against Cervical Cancer, youth corps member, Miss Oluchukwu Okeke led the vaccination campaign for young girls in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Okeke, through her foundation, Okeke Gloria Oluchukwu Initiative, with support from Sigma Pensions and Medicaid, provided free vaccination for 11 school children at the Piwoyi Primary Health Care Centre, along Airport Road, in the FCT at the cost of N13, 000 per dose in the first of at least two laps of vaccination against the disease.
The 26 years old graduate of Accounting from the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State who is currently serving at the headquarters of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in Abuja, said her passion for public health, girl child education and development were the motivation for the gesture.
Addressing scores of participants at the venue, Okeke called on the federal government to integrate vaccination against cervical cancer into national immunisation campaign and increase access to screening for cancers in the country.
She said: “The girls that are supposed to be given vaccine are not given vaccine because it has not been included in the national immunisation routine, making it unavailable to the girls and the youth. The essence of this advocacy is to call on the federal government, the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency to include the Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine into the national immunisation routine to make it available and accessible for the girls at the grassroots.
In his remarks, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, gave assurance at the event that government would continue to do its best to guarantee the wellbeing of people in the country, especially in protecting women and girls against cervical cancer.
Represented by Assistant Director, Cancer Control Programme, Department of Hospital Services in the ministry, Dr Chinwendu Onuselogu, the minister said “ The Government was working with other stakeholders to procure human papilloma vaccine “because the most important things are the grassroots children. If we are able to go to the grassroots through immunisation, I think it will go a long way to prevent our young girls from getting infected with cervical cancer”.
Shedding light of the vision behind this career project which translates into physical work for the Corp members, the Managing Director of Sigma Pensions, Mr. Dave Uduanu reiterated the Organisations’ commitment towards creating exceptional value for stakeholders. “Our partnership with Junior Achievement Nigeria is targeted towards improving Financial Literacy amongst young people most especially Corps members. Our aim is to work with our teeming young population to think creatively about adding value to their environment. We are not just working to improve the retirement life of our customers but we shall continue to seek ways to add value to our society at large.”.