The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited has equipped over 120 young Nigerian students and their teachers across 12 schools in Lagos and Rivers States with a diverse range of tools and problem-solving skills to address the complex challenges affecting the food-water-energy nexus and its linkages.
The schools include, Archdeacon Brown Education Centre, Woji; Bloombreed High School, Elelenwo; Brookstone Secondary School, Rukpokwu; Bishop Crowder Memorial Secondary School, Elelenwo; Jephthah Comprehensive College, East-West Road; and Oginigba Community Comprehensive School, Oginigba; all in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Rivers State, among others.
Speaking at the NXplorers Exhibition organized to showcase the innovative projects of the students in Port Harcourt, last Monday, under its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education initiative, Shell’s General Manager, External Relations, Igo Weli, said that the company has in the last eight months taken the smart students and their teachers through a wide spectrum of opportunities to solve local challenges with global impact.
Weli, who was represented by Manager, Social Performance, Sub-Sahara Africa, Emmanuel Anyim, said that “through the NXPlorers programme, we are inspiring young people to pursue STEM and empowering them to develop solutions through well-thought through processes”, adding that, “we are trying to strengthen the culture of innovation in Nigeria and show the youth that often times, the solution is within reach.”
He said that following a rigorous training session during which the students were put through the NXPlorers methodology, the students were able to harness the tools and use them to think through local and global issues by working on projects that aim to provide solutions, in part or in full to challenges faced in the Niger Delta.
“Increasingly, as the world population grows, there is a global challenge to food, water and energy which are tightly interlinked. Water is necessary for food production just as it is instrumental for the food supply and value chain. Energy on the other hand is required to produce and distribute water and food; and for processing and transportation of food. These challenges do not have set solutions but they look to sustainable innovations to change the narrative,” Weli explained, adding that NXPlorers provides the complex solutions through creativity and innovation.
Weli noted that, “young people have the capability to create positive movements for change,” pointing out that, “the possibilities and ever-increasing opportunities in the STEM world are endless”, and challenged parents and other corporate entities to join Shell to point the students in the right direction by using available resources judiciously to make a huge difference in their lives.
In their goodwill messages, representatives of Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN) and British Council, Kpekot Atemie and Uchechi Awaraka, respectively, lauded Shell for the initiative to focus the students’ attention on developing innovative skills that would enable them find workable solutions to the complex problems facing the people of the Niger Delta, particularly in the areas of food-water-energy and value chain with a view to making life sustainable and brighter for posterity.
In his Lead Presentation exploring the issues around the theme for this year’s World Environment Day: “Beat Plastic Pollution”, as a trigger to connect the students to the missing nexus, Senior Research Adviser, Environmental Team, SPDC, Prof Arthur Esaaghah, reminded the students of the tasks ahead of them in finding effective solutions to the challenges posed by plastic pollution in the states of the coastal region.
Esaaghah drew attention of the students to the alarming death tolls in marine lives annually as a result of plastic pollution, pointing out that in the next couple of years, the quantum of plastics in the ocean would exceed the number of fishes, and warned that with the lifespan of plastics running into over a 1000 years and the poisonous consequences to humans and marine lives, it was expedient for the students to find alternative ways to drastically reduce reliance on plastics in the lives of people in the Niger Delta.
In her remarks, Shell’s Social Performance Manager, Gloria Udoh said that the exhibition provides an opportunity for credible testimonies on the capacity of the STEM students to explore their potential for creative and innovative ideas that could change the future for the better, and charged them to think and probe deeper to find efficient solutions to the people’s daunting challenges in solving the complex problems in the food-water-energy nexus.