By Peter Egwuatu
Obajana Cement Plc, a member of the Dangote Group, has spent almost a billion naira on various corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects in its host communities, in addition to the award of an N83million contract for the electrification of these communities.
Alhaji Usman Muhammed, General Manager, Special Duties, Obajana Cement, who disclosed this weekend, said the projects, which are located in the four host communities namely Obajana, Oyo, Apata and Iwaa, range from educational incentives to resettlement programmes.
Muhammad said the initiative is a demonstration of the companyâ€™s determination to improve the well_being of its host communities through projects that touch their lives and impact positively on their basic needs.
He added that the electricity project is key because it would lead to the opening of several cottage industries, which rely on supply of electricity to thrive, noting that it would enable small scale entrepreneurs, particularly the youth, to set up and operate business centres, hair dressing salons and other micro businesses.
Schools, hospitals and cottage industries in the host communities, will equally benefit from the project as it would reduce their reliance on generators, which is their primary source of their power supply, he pointed out.â€
â€œThis would also reduce cost and optimise profit as the funds used in fueling generators could be channeled to in other areas,â€ he said.
The General Manager, Obajana Cement, disclosed that the company had in 2004, introduced a scholarship programme for children in the host communities, adding that it covers both secondary and tertiary levels of education. Currently, he said 32 students, consisting of eight from each of the four communities, are benefiting from the scheme under which the company has so far spent about N25million.
â€œWe are extending the scope of the scholarship programme to cover payment of WAEC, NECO and JAMB fees and provision of branded exercise books and other writing materials,â€ he stated. â€œIn addition, we have built and furnished primary school blocks for the communities.â€
Towards ensuring provision of good water supply for the catchment communities and meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Muhammad revealed that the company in 2005 sank boreholes for the four communities.
The company, according to Muhammed, has spent about N25 million in expanding the water project in line with its vision of ensuring adequate supply of safe drinking water to its hosts.
He also stated that the company partnered Lokoja Local Government in providing a community health centre at Obajana for the use of the catchment communities to provide adequate healthcare for the host communities.
According to him, the local government built the health centre, while the company supplied the hospital equipment, dressings and furniture, worth N10 million.
To empower women and the youth, he also revealed that the company has set aside a total of N10 million as a micro_credit scheme for disbursement to women groups as revolving and interest_free loans.
For the youth, he said the company has designed a cement retailing scheme, whereby 10 trailer loads of cement will be delivered to them on credit. The youth are expected to retail the cement and plough back the proceeds for more supplies. Through this, he added that the youths would build up a lucrative and self_sustaining business, which would financially empower them to meet their need and to understand the basic principles of financial literacy and entrepreneurship.
In addition, Muhammed said the company has awarded contracts for the resettlement (moving them from mud houses to modern day buildings) of Oyo community to mitigate the impact of its mining activities in the area.
A total of N350 million is being expended on this project. It has also paid a total sum of N400 million for farm crops, economic trees and structures to the Communities of Obajana, Oyo, Iwaa and Apata as well as communities along the gas pipeline route from Ajaokuta to Obajana.