By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoa – No fewer than 130 students from host communities in Sagbama and Ekeremor local government areas of Bayelsa in secondary and tertiary institutions were yesterday awarded scholarships under the Global Memorandum of Understanding entered between their communities and the Anglo Dutch oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).
Under the five years GMoU agreement reached between the six communities of Ayamasa, Ofoni, Egbema & Angalabiri, Sampou, Agbere and Agbidiama and the oil giant SPDC, the communities are expected to choose area of benefits for the community and implement it through a management team under a Cluster Development Board.
While the Sampou community raised projects such as lock-up shops and guest houses as projects needed to raise revenue, the four communities of Agbere, Agbidiama, Ofoni and Ayamasa stressed the need for educational scholarships for disadvantage and gifted youths from the area.
Speaking yesterday at the commissioning of the scholarship awards scheme by the Tarakiri Cluster Development Board, the Head of the SPDC team in Bayelsa State, Mr. Evans Umurukurubor said the partnership between Shell and host communities is a means of promoting human capital development among the indigenes of host communities in the Niger Delta.
Umurukubor said though the decision to embark on development projects is sorely the function of the community’s development board, the Shell Petroleum is expected to have reached over 150 communities through the cluster system under the GMoU.
“It is a shift from the past and the system with the communities has been commendable,” he said.
In his remark, the Chairman of the Tarakiri Cluster Development Board, Dr. Jude Ebibokefie, noted that the relationship between SPDC and the communities under the Clusters Development Board has been commendable and called on the beneficiaries to utilise the funds from the educational scholarship handed them under the programme.
Earlier in his speech, the Chairman of the occasion and a retired state Permanent Secretary, Dr. Levi Gboluseri said though many indigenes of the benefiting communities were denied by Shell in the 60s and 70s from scholarship grants, “we are happy that the new generation of indigenes of the area are benefiting from such grants.”
Dr. Gboluseri lauded the award of scholarships to youths from host communities saying, “the monetary benefits from the programme must be reviewed upward along with the increasing cost of education in the country.”