Nigeria: Prioritising Sustainable Community Development

22 October 2019

As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility, Dangote Petroleum Refinery is empowering youths through skills acquisition and vocational trainings in the Ibeju-Lekki axis of Lagos State.

At Dangote Petroleum Refinery, the value of 'Responsibility' is collective and finds a natural place as a key driver in the conduct of its entire business operations and in its relationship with every stakeholder in its host communities.

It is on this philosophy that Dangote Petroleum Refinery hinged its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy, which it recently executed through the training of 200 youths from communities around Ibeju-Lekki area in Lagos State.

Dangote Petroleum Refinery's strong local ties and commitment to the host communities have been intrinsically important to the world largest single train refinery, which is still under construction.

Since the commencement of the refinery project, the company has prioritised sustainable community development through creating shared value for its local communities, which has been critical in not only achieving operational success but also protecting the company's social licence to operate.

Therefore, the graduation of about 200 youths from Ibeju-Lekki community in Lagos State have graduated from various skill acquisition programmes showed the company's determination to transform the society through employment opportunities for the youths.

The programme, put together by Dangote Petroleum Refinery and facilitated by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), is expected to reduce youth unemployment and restiveness in the society.

The skill acquisition programme, which cut across a wide range of vocational skills such as plumbing, masonry, welding, iron bending, auto mechanics and electrical works, marked the successful completion of the first batch trainees.

The programme is another level of Dangote Petroleum Refinery's intervention as it is targeted at providing vocational skills to the teeming youth population in its host communities.

Executive Rationale and Commitment

Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Group Executive Director, Strategy, Capital Projects and Portfolio Development, Dangote Industries Limited, Mr. Devakumar Edwin said the initiative was a demonstration of Dangote Refinery's commitment toward capacity-building and youth empowerment in the country.

Edwin said the programme was another level of Dangote Petroleum Refinery's intervention targeted at providing vocational skills to the teeming youth population in its host communities. He said the programme was also aimed at making youth from its host communities employable.

He said the 200 youths from Ibeju-Lekki community in Lagos State graduated from various skills acquisition programmes put together by Dangote Petroleum Refinery as a way of transforming society and providing employment opportunities for the youths.

He urged the graduands to be more focused and diligent in whatever they do and serve as frontier to others.

"With the tools given to you today, you can be good ambassadors of this great community. So many graduates outside are still searching for jobs, but yours is different because you have been trained. We are going to give you our maximum support to ensure you are employed in our operations, as our host communities remains our priority.

"These skills given to you today, can take you to various places and attract better opportunity if managed effectively," he said.

Edwin advised the graduands to commit themselves to continuous learning and development as the business environment changes frequently, and promised to assist them to succeed."

According to him, as the petroleum refining and fertiliser complex comes on stream, it is expected that will be a population boom in the surrounding communities, who requires the services of the trainees.

He expressed optimism that the host communities will experience a turnaround in their fortunes very soon. He added that this could make them independent in the community. Edward said the programme which started six months ago, had today recorded tremendous success among the 200 graduands.

Edwin advised the graduands to commit themselves to continuous learning and development as the business environment changes frequently, and promised to assist them to succeed.

According to him, as the petroleum refining and fertiliser complex comes on stream, it is expected that will be a population boom in the surrounding communities, who requires the services of the trainees.

He expressed optimism that the host communities will experience a turnaround in their fortunes very soon.

Support from LASG

Also at the event, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State promised to employ the 200 youth of Ibeju-Lekki community who graduated from various skills acquisition programmes in the Lekki Free Trade Zone.

Sanwo-Olu, represented by Dr. Tunde Sodade, the Managing Director of Lekki Free Trade Zone Worldwide, said the governor was passionate about employing the youths through skilled vocational training.

He lauded the Dangote Group for the initiative, and urged the newly graduated youth to be good ambassadors to the state and their community.

"We will ensure that all of you that graduated today, will be employed at the free zone because we believe that what you learnt will be useful for the development of the zone. I urge you all to be good examples to others and always demonstrate better character and integrity in what you do," Sanwo-Olu said.

He urged the graduands to register their names with the Lekki Free Trade Zone management, so they could be employed by all companies within the zone.

The State Coordinator of the Nigerian Directorate of Employees (NDE), Mrs. Serena Edward lauded Dangote group for pioneering the skills vocational training for the youths in the community.

"We encountered some challenges in the course of the programme, in which the community elders intervened. The programme has transformed the students to do better and also improved their standards of creativity on the jobs learnt.

"Today, the programme has facilitated the students to open an account with a bank as a sign of seriousness towards business. Dangote has given the community youths useful tools to work with and advised you to use it diligently," she said.

Social Investment Excites Traditional Rulers

At the colourful ceremony, which was graced by top Obas and community leaders in the host communities, saw to the presentation of certificates to the 200 beneficiaries.

Oba Olumuyiwa Ogunbekun, the Oni-Lekki of Lekki encouraged the youth to fully utilise the skills they acquired. He commended Dangote Refinery for its unwavering support to community development initiatives in the state and emphasised the need for the youth to work hard.

Ogunbekun also urged Dangote to assist in employing the trained youths in other to foster youth mutual relationship in the community and make them practice what they learnt.

He also commended Aliko Dangote for bringing development to the communities through its investment in refinery and petrochemicals and urged other Nigerians of means to invest locally and lift the economy of the people at the grassroots.

The Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu had applauded Dangote Petroleum Refinery during the flag-off of the programme for empowering the youths in the communities around its areas of operation. The monarch also encouraged the youths to utilise the skills they will acquire, work hard and be close to God.

In his words, "you must appreciate the unique opportunity given you to be engaged in a programme like this. I enjoin you to take this seriously as it can be a step to change your lives completely."

Mr. Musa Ajibola, an instructor, urged companies to follow what Dangote had done, and to make the training one year programme rather than six months. He said the training had broadened the knowledge of the youths toward improving their knowledge.

One of the students, Balogun Fuad said the programme was laudable, adding that it came at the right time. According to him, most youths in the area do not have meaningful livelihood, while urging Dangote and others to employ them.

Another student, Balogun Owolabi said the programme had created opportunities for most of the youth.

Supporting Govt's Local Content Initiative

The vocational training programme also got the support of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) when it was first launched earlier this year.

For Dangote Petroleum Refinery, the vocational scheme is geared towards instant value addition to the lives of the youths and their communities as they would be equipped with trade skills that would prepare them for better opportunities.

The Executive Secretary NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Wabote, during flag off of the programme, explained that Nigerian Content is geared to promote domiciliation of value-adding activities and utilisation of indigenous human and material resources.

Wabote, who was represented by the Manager, Gas and Refinery, Engr. Frank Ibi, charged the trainees to be disciplined and to harness the opportunity as the programme will equip them with basic skills for self-reliance.

He commended Dangote Refinery on its achievement and underlined that Nigerian content was geared to promote domiciliation of value-adding activities and utilisation of Nigerian human and material resources.

According to him, the board's mandate is to ensure that training resources and efforts are devoted to providing young Nigerians with specialised skills and certifications needed to get employment.

He also commended Dangote's commitment to NDCMB's human capacity development initiatives, which he believed would provide a platform for the youths to contribute to Nigeria's economic development.

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