Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited on Thursday inaugurated a multi-million naira integrated science laboratory it built, equipped and donated to Aggrey Memorial (Model) College, Arochukwu in Abia.
Speaking at the inauguration, the Managing Director of the company, Mr. Bayo Ojulari, said that the project would promote educational excellence in the sciences.
“It is also part of our larger educational support programmes to help Nigerian youths and support the government in the task of providing high quality educational facilities in public schools,” he said.
Ojulari, who was represented by the company’s Manager, Business Opportunities, Mr Segun Owolabi, said that the modern science equipment and laboratory chemicals were sufficient to serve the school for a minimum of two years.
He explained that the facility would promote teaching and learning of science subjects and provide a conducive learning environment to stimulate students’ interest.
“Our hope is that this project will help in no small measure to prepare more Nigerian students for the anticipated technological take-off in the nation,” the Shell boss said.
He listed some of the company’s contribution to the development of education in Nigeria to include the award of the Shell “Cradle-to-Career” scholarship for a six-year secondary education in top-rated schools in Nigeria to 104 primary school pupils in the country.
Owolabi said that the programme, which was inaugurated in 2014, currently had 267 beneficiaries in different schools in Nigeria.
The managing director said that the scholarship covered tuition, boarding, education and non-education supplies.
He said that the company also had a scholarship for 100 university undergraduates in the country.
He also said that the company had provided Information Communication Technology centres in different parts of the country to improve curriculum development and digitisation in Nigerian universities.
Owolabi admonished the students of the college to make good use of the facilities.
According to him, the possibilities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) world are endless.
In his speech, the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Ikechi Mgboji, expressed gratitude to Shell for the gesture.
The commissioner said that the company had further demonstrated its support toward the growth and development of the nation’s education sector.
Mgboji, who was represented by the Director of Scholarships in the ministry, Mrs Christy Ibeji, said that the project would remain memorable to Abia government as well as staff and students of the college.
He described the complex as a masterpiece and appealed to Shell to extend similar gesture to other public schools in the state.
Also, the Principal of the college, Mr Peter Ugbuta, said that the laboratory would improve the teaching and learning of sciences in the college and the neighouring schools.
Ugbuta however, stressed the need for adequate security within and around the college to protect the facility from activities of hoodlums.
He said that the school needed perimeter fence and a security guard and appealed to the alumni association of the college and the state government for their assistance.
The principal also said that some of the classroom blocks in the college were in a state of disrepair and needed urgent attention.
A representative of the alumni association of the college, Mrs Grace Okaro, thanked the company for the project, describing it as a `timely intervention’ for which posterity would forever remember it.
Okaro decried the deplorable condition of the school’s hitherto popular chapel, called the Abna Hall, and Independence Park, housing the tombs of the founder of the college and legendary educationist, Dr. Alvan Ikoku, and his wife, Goomsu.
The body, therefore, appealed to the state government to return the hall and park to the school, saying that “without it our history will be incomplete.”
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the two facilities were removed from the college and ceded to its neighboruing Abia State College of Education, (Technical) Arochukwu.
The two institutions had no clear demarcation.
The alumni further accepted to take up the responsibility for security in the college and maintenence of the laboratory complex.
A community leader, Mr Byron Irokanulo, who spoke on behalf of the community, expressed profound thanks to the company but underscored the need to enhance security in the school, especially during holidays.