By Obas Esiedesa
Energy giant, ExxonMobil, says over 65,000 youths in schools and vulnerable communities have benefited from its Power Forward programme, since inception in 2013.
The program which is a youth development initiative of ExxonMobil, National Basketball Association (NBA) and international NGO, Africare teaches health literacy and life skills such as leadership, respect and personal responsibility through basketball and other programmes.
Speaking in Abuja at the sixth edition of the Power Forward basketball finals between Government Secondary School, Karu and Total Child Secondary School at the National Stadium, weekend, the General Manager, Public and Government Affairs, ExxonMobil Nigeria, Mr. Nigel Cookey-Gam, said overall, the programme has reached over 2,000 students including 1,100 direct beneficiaries and 900 peer influencers from 30 schools in Abuja.
Cookey-Gam pointed out that ExxonMobil has invested heavily in youth development because it realizes that the bedrock of any society or country are its youths, stressing that harnessing the talents of the youths at the right point; developing and nurturing them, would produce a successful outcome.
According to him, “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. 900 students from 30 schools in Abuja have benefitted till date. And we have reached 125 million worldwide”.
Speaking further on the impact of the programme, Cookey-Gam explained: “To date, the program has cumulatively reached 65,000 youth in school and vulnerable communities with life skills information, provided more than 6,500 persons with malaria prevention strategies and treatment and established 20 hand wash stations to promote hygiene and promote exemplary leadership skills; over 5,000 students were engaged in a mensural hygiene management awareness program”.
The finals had in attendance leading Nigeria’s basket stars with 2015 NBA Champion with the Golden State Warriors, Festus Ezeli as secial guest. Also in attendance was former captain of Nigeria’s men Basketball team, D’Tiger, Olumide Oyedeji.
Speaking during the event, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, who was represented by the Director of Sports Medicine in the Ministry of Youths and Sports, Dr. Paul Onyeudo, 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.
On their parts, Ezeli and Oyedeji charged the capacity crowd of excited students at the Indoor sports hall of the National Stadium to dream big, focus and work hard.
They urged to remain in school and study hard as it was the foundation for a successful career in sports or other endeavous.
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.