By Michael Eboh, Abuja
Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, yesterday, commended ExxonMobil Nigeria, Africare and the United-States based National Basketball Association, NBA, for their efforts at promoting capacity building, health development and well-being of Nigerian youths through their Power Africa Initiative.
The Power Forward initiative is a youth development initiative that ExxonMobil, the NBA and Africare had put together to teach health literacy and life skills, such as leadership, respect and personal responsibility to youths, through basketball and other programmes.
Speaking at the 2019 Power Forward Basketball Finals celebration in Abuja, Dare, who was represented by the Director of Sports Medicine in the Ministry of Youths and Sports, Dr. Paul Onyeudo, disclosed that the partnership of the three organizations in the area of youths development, through sports and healthy living, was critical to the development of Nigeria.
He said, “Those who are conversant with happenings in Nigeria would know that we have issues with youth restiveness; we have issues with security and when you are developing the youths, you are doing a lot of service to this country. It is important to note that they gave a big thought, knowing what this country needs at the moment.
“Thinking about the healthy components of their activities, anyone who is conversant with the health issues in Nigeria would know that we have double health burden. Their partnership in the area of primary healthcare is something that is very important to the overall development of this country because as it is commonly said, health is wealth.”
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The 2019 Power Forward Finals, which is at its sixth edition, featured NBA Star, Festus Ezeji and former NBA player and 2015 Afrobasket champion, Olumide Oyedeji. Ezeji was the 2015 NBA champion with the Golden State Warriors.
Also speaking, Mr Patrick Adah, Officer-in-Charge, Africare, said over the years, the Power Forward initiative has provided an opportunity for the partners to bring basketball stars to meet and mentor youths and secondary school students.
He noted that the programme was designed to bring out the best in the students, added that it is an effective initiative to promote issues of malaria control and treatment.
He noted that the programme also educates the youths on health and environmental issues, such as HIV/AIDS, menstrual health and the need to maintain a healthy and habitable environment.
Speaking in the same vein, Manager, Government and Business Relations, ExxonMobil Nigeria, Mr Nigel Cookey-Gam, restated the commitment of the company to continue to partner with Africare and the National Basketball Association, NBA to promote capacity building, development, health and well-being of Nigerian youths.
He noted that all through the years of its operations in the Nigerian petroleum industry, it had come to the realization that the bedrock of any entity and country are its youths.
He maintained that harnessing the talents of the youths at the right point; developing and nurturing them, would produce a successful outcome.
“That for us is the focus. We are very focused on health awareness because if you do not have a healthy population you cannot have a successful operation,” he averred.
Cookey-Gam said ExxonMobil and its partners, through the Power Forward programme, are committed to developing sustainable, long term community assistance initiative in Nigeria, adding that the company was also involved in the area of malaria, in health education and capacity building targeted at the youths.
He added that the Power Forward programme also supports the Federal Government’s national malaria control, is advocacy of youth development; and also builds on the efforts of ExxonMobil’s malaria initiative to combat the scourge of the ailment in Nigeria.