By Edith Ike-Eboh
ExxonMobil says it is partnering with National Basket Ball Association (NBA) and other partners on `Power Forward Project’ to ensure youth development in Nigeria and Africa at large.
Mr Nigel Cookey-Gam, Government and Business Relations Manager of ExxonMobil, at the Finals of the fifth round of the project in Abuja on Friday, said youth and human capacity development remained a critical part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Power Forward project focuses on teaching health literacy and life skills such as leadership, respect and personal responsibility through basketball and other programming to positively impact Nigerian secondary school students.
He said that through the project, it would continue to pursue programmes that would bring about youth development and build human capacity across critical sectors of the Nigerian economy
According to him, the project is a youth development initiative of ExxonMobil, NBA, WNBA and Africare, a Non Governmental organisation (NGO).
“It teaches health, literacy and life skills, such as legacy, respect and personal responsibility through basketball and other programme to positively impact Nigerian secondary school students in Abuja.
“ExxonMobil continues to be at the forefront in the fight to reduce the global burden of malaria.
“ExxonMobil is committed to the development of sustainable, long term community assistance initiative in Nigeria, such as Power Forward.” he said
Cookey-Gam said the Power Forward project also supports the Federal Government National Malaria Control Programme advocacy, youth development and public health initiative.
He said, “The community investment programmes that we support focus on capacity building, training, education and health, especially among youths and women.
“Our philosophy is that a productive, healthy and educated society is a better place to do business and we hope that the skills that are imbibed by the youths through this initiative would bring about sustainable improvement in their lives.
“Since 2000, ExxonMobil supported programmes, have distributed more than 14 million bed nets, insecticide treated nets; nearly three million diagnostic tests and more than four million anti-malaria drugs, reaching more than 125 million people worldwide.” He added.
In his presentation, the NBA’s Director of Basketball Operations for Africa, Mr Franck Traore, said the NBA, along with its Nigerian partners was keen on using basketball as a vehicle to teach young people healthy lifestyle and create public health awareness.
He also noted that during the process of engagement, young Nigerians would be provided with the necessary support both morally and financially, if they chose to pursue basketball as a career.
Traore further explained that the impact of the programme could be quantified, stating that the partners, ExxonMobil, NBA and Africare, had put in effort and commitment to ensure that the aim of the programme was achieved.
“It is our duty to see how best we can assist these kids, who really want to pursue basketball as a career.
“The amount of time and work put in there — I personally cannot quantify the amount of financial commitment that we put in, but I know it is a great commitment.”
In her remarks, the Country Director, Africare, Mrs. Orode Doherty, said the partnership would not only promote youth development, but also boost human capacity.
Doherty noted that the partners intended to take the Power Forward model as a franchise across Africa and the rest of the world to develop the potentials of youths using basketball.
Also speaking, former NBA player, Jerome Williams, said the Power Forward is aimed at teaching students leadership, respect, as well as helping in promoting education among the youths.
He said Power Forward would strive to touch more people in our communities, not only in Abuja, but all over Nigeria, as well as across Africa.
“We need Power Forward; we need all you kids to be next leaders. We need all you parents to support your children, and definitely all the partners that are involved, because with them, they would be no programme and initiave,” Williams noted.
Also, another former NBA player, Olumide Oyedeji, called on the youths to imbibe passion, vision and determination, as well as dedication, determination and discipline in their daily undertakings. (NAN)