In furtherance of efforts to empower Niger Delta youths through business support initiatives, capacity building and employment generation, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) has handed over cheques worth N6.7million to 45 persons living with HIV/AIDS in Owaza, Abia State, in a pilot scheme aimed at enhancing the economic potentials of the most vulnerable in the region.
The 45 victims of the dreaded disease, who belong to four cooperative societies under the aegis of the more than 70-strong member God’s Intervention Support Group (GISG), were presented their cheques by SPDC representatives at a colourful launch of the small enterprise development programme for special groups in Port Harcourt, last Thursday.
Speaking at the event, SPDC’s General Manager, Social Performance and Community Relations, Tony Attah, restated the fact that the company has over the years developed and supported several small and medium-sized enterprises, with a view to boosting their economic contributions to societal development while maximizing profit to sustain their livelihoods.
Attah emphasized that hitherto, SPDC had offered healthcare support, treatment and counseling to people living with HIV/AIDS in host communities in the region, saying that the launch of this novel programme was to raise the bar by providing capital to establish new businesses or expand existing ones owned by PLWAs.
The general manager noted that this was a strategic departure from the past when corporate organizations and governments focused on providing healthcare such as anti-viral drugs than economic empowerment, stressing that SPDC was doing this because it “recognizes that there are millions of people willing and capable of living productive lives with the disease.
According to him, “the small enterprise development pilot programme is part of SPDC’s corporate social responsibility contribution to improving small businesses and creating wealth and sustainable employment for groups with special needs”, by identifying business needs of beneficiaries, building their capacity to establish and manage small businesses, providing revolving fund to enable kick-start their own businesses, while also providing mentoring and monitoring services to ensure sustainability.
He implored the beneficiaries of the scheme to make good use of the fund in order to enable them take better care of themselves and their families, usually stigmatized by society, and also contribute positively to community, state and national development, assuring that the SPDC JV, government and other stakeholders were interested in their health and economic prosperity.
Also speaking, Regional Community Health Manager, Dr Babatunde Fakunle, pointed out that in every 100 Nigerians; about 3.8 are estimated to be HIV-positive, adding that the disease was no longer regarded as a medical problem but rather a major social and economic challenge to society.
Fakunle noted that apart from stigmatization and denial of access to family resources, the economic burden of HIV/AIDS include reduction of household incomes by up to 80 per cent, food consumption by 15-30 per cent, and primary school enrolment by 20-40 per cent, saying that i9t was in recognition of this challenge that the economic empowerment initiative was launched for people with special needs in furtherance of the goals of the Niger Delta AIDS Response programme.
He stated that the programme, which began in 2007 under a partnership framework with Family Health International, with the provision of community-based treatment, care and support to persons living with HIV and AIDS in five pilot communities in the Niger Delta covered by five SPDC-supported health centres, has now graduated to economic empowerment of PLWA and thanked the beneficiaries for making this possible.
Oil Marketers Urge Buhari To Crash Diesel Price
Petroleum marketers under the platform of Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria (NOGASA) rose from their 2nd National Executive Council (NEC) meeting last week, within a plea to President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to make dollars available at official rate to oil marketers.
This, they said, will enable them import diesel, end petrol scarcity, and ultimately save the Nigerian economy from sinking, saying that dollar support should be available till Dangote Refinery comes on stream later in the year.
The association, among others, urged the National Assembly to immediately enact a Bill for the establishment of Energy Bank for easy transaction in petroleum products in the sector.
National President of the Association, Mr Benneth Korie, who briefed the media after the NEC meeting in Abuja, noted that the bulk of the operational challenge peppering marketers and depot owners spring from expensive diesel which hovers around N850/litre.
While thanking President Muhammadu Buhari for approving a higher bridging cost payment to transporters, Korie said the operators’ challenges were far from over as oil marketers and depot owners spend about N20 million weekly on diesel to power their operations, thus eroding their profits.
The association urges the National Assembly to review the policy of taxation as it affects petroleum products supply and distribution chain.
Senate To Honour Brave Petrol Tanker Driver
The Senate has resolved to honour Ejiro Otarigho, the brave tanker driver who drove a burning tanker from danger zone to avert a tragic fire incident in Agbarho, Delta State.
The Senate has also recommended Ejiro to President Muhammadu Buhari for National Honours.
This followed a motion moved by the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, and co-sponsored by Senator James Manager and Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, at plenary.
It would be recalled that in a rare act of bravery, Ejiro had last week driven a burning tanker from danger zone to avert what could have been a tragic fire incident in Agbarho, Delta State.
The incident happened last Friday when Ejiro drove the burning truck for 25 minutes from a densely populated area to Agbarho River where the tanker was completely razed in the inferno. The act was captured by onlookers and had gone viral.
Rising under Order 45 and 52 of the Senate Standing Order 2021 (as amended), Senator Omo-Agege stressed that but for Ejiro’s courage, a major fire disaster which would have claimed several lives and property could have happened in his senatorial district.
The Delta Central lawmaker noted that Ejiro’s “extraordinary display of courage, reflex application of special driving skills, and huge risk to his own life, prevented a huge national tragedy and catastrophe by driving a burning tanker loaded with inflammable petroleum products from residential areas to safety so that thousands of our people may not die in an inferno that would also have consumed so much property in Agbarho, Delta State on Friday, June 10, 2022”.
The driver’s audacious act of heroism, he stressed, has saved the nation from national tragedy and mourning.
Accordingly, the Senate resolved to “invite Mr. Ejiro Otarigho to the Chamber of the Senate for public commendation by the President of the Senate, Senator Ibrahim Lawan.
“Recommend Mr. Ejiro Otarigho to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, for a befitting National Honour as Mr. President may deem fit for his extraordinary act of bravery, courage and skill that prevented the loss of human lives and property on a massive scale”.
President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, who presided over plenary, hailed the driver for risking his life to drive the burning truck out of residential area to save lives.
Court Adjourns Worker Vs NLNG Matter To Oct
The National Industrial Court sitting in Port Harcourt, on Thursday, adjourned the matter on the defamation of character and unlawful termination of employment between a contract worker, Tambari Michael, and the Nigeria LNG Limited to October 25, 2022.
The judge, Justice Nelson Ogbuanya, said the adjournment was to enable the new counsel to the claimant, Mecha Mecha Kalu, to study the case before continuing.
Recall that the clamnant, Tambari Michael, a former contract staff of NLNG, had approached the court in 2019 to challenge the termination of his appointment by the Supervisor of NLNG’s Logistics, praying the court to declare the termination of his job as illegal and unlawful third party interference.
Michael in the suit number NICN/ PH/43/2019 claimed that displaying his name and image amongst persons accused to have committed criminal offensCes was defamatory, which, according to him, runs contrary to Section 4 of the NLNG Code of Conduct bordering on harassment.
Defendants in the suit are Nigeria LNG Limited, AUGJ Services Nigeria Ltd (the contracting firm) and Abimbola Ibukunle, the company’s Logistics Supervisor when the services of the claimant were terminated.
Other demands stated by the Claimant in the suit are “Damages be awarded to claimant against 1st defendant (Nigeria LNG Limited) and 3rd defendant (Mrs. Abimbola Ibikunle) for defamatory publication made.
“Damages also to be awarded against 1st and 3rd defendants for unlawful interference upon Mr Tambari Michael’s employment with AUGJ Services (2nd defendant).”
When the matter was called in the court on Thursday, counsel to the claimant, Mecha Mecha Kalu, who appeared in court for the first time, informed the court that he had just taken over the matter as counsel and solicitor to the claimant.
Speaking to newsmen after the court session, counsel to the claimant, Mecha Mecha Kalu expressed confidence that his client will get justice in the court but, counsel to the defendant declined comment.
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