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How foundation turned our lives around, by beneficiaries

•Kolade, Dozie, others applaud CSR initiatives in Nigeria

By Cosmas Omegoh

Mufutau Akuruyejo, a Computer Engineering student of the University of Lagos, Akoka, was in a happy mood. He was fortunate to be selected among the winners of the MTN Foundation’s Science and Technology Students scholarship. Having done very well and consistently maintaining the required 2.1 grade every semester, he was considered good enough to participate in the fully-funded, nine-week CERN ICT Openlab programme in Switzerland. He was the first Nigerian and African to be selected.

“It is an opportunity of a lifetime and I will forever be grateful to MTN Foundation and Oracle. I have learned a lot in this period through this scholarship because I am very passionate about technology. Through education, a whole community can be liberated and only skills like this can bring about such change,” Akuruyejo said.

For Maria Fakunle, a student at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, her goal is to contribute her quota to saving lives as a medical practitioner. She said she had entered for the scholarship because she desired to be assisted with realising her dream.

“I was very glad that I was picked. I knew it was going to reduce the burden of my fees on my parents who are actually trying to see four of us through school at the same time,” Fakunle said.

On her dreams, she said: “I see medicine, which would enable me to help others by relieving their stress or burden. You see patients everyday who come with one complaint or another and somehow you see that God has given you the ability to be a helping hand.”

On the other hand, the trio of Kehinde Oritimehin, Aderayo Oyegbade and Olufemi Ayodeji, are beneficiaries of the MTNF-MUSON Scholarship and have formed a band known as the Harmony Kings. The scholarship has had a positive influence in shaping their future, they confessed.

“I can honestly say I am living my passion. I remember MTNF bought us the book on composition and ensured that we had a composition teacher. Now, I am training choirs. I have had some compositions performed at MUSON. I consult at schools. I’m putting final touches to my new album and I’m making a living from music,” Kehinde said.

David Ajala, Tolu Omogbehin, Titus Ogunyemi and Seun Oluwaloju concurred. “You need good teachers, you need experienced performers to teach you and you need books, lots of expensive books that you can only get on special orders. And this is what the scholarship has given us. It is a rare privilege,” Ajala said. 

MTNF’s Director, Aishatu Sadauki, at one of the programmes, said the foundation’s involvements were beyond statistics and figures. According to her, the objective of the MTNF Scholarship scheme was to provide academic scholarship annually to a minimum of 500 students on full-time studies in accredited institutions across the six geo-political zones of the country.

“We aim at shaping Nigeria’s future through education. We aim at making an investment in the lives of tomorrow’s leaders by providing them with an opportunity to pursue their dreams despite financial limitations,” she said.

Dr. Pascal Dozie, Chairman, MTN Nigeria, described the initiative as a responsible investment. “As a responsible corporate citizen, one must give. We prefer to call it social investment, for these are the people, who patronise us on a daily basis and we see it as crucial to investment in their welfare.”

While reviewing the status of corporate social investment in Nigeria, the Founder/Coordinator of Social Enterprise Reports and Awards (SERA), Dr. Ken Egbas, said companies in Nigeria were investing heavily in CSR but advised that more was needed in the areas of impact measurement to adequately situate Nigeria in the CSR scheme globally.

He said: “We must appreciate organisations that have come out to show up. By showing up, I mean organisations that have promised to do something and they have tried their best to fulfil what they promised. However, we need to devise a means to adequately measure the impact of these great projects, and I think that is what is now left.”

In the words of Nigeria’s former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Dr. Christopher Kolade, the philosophy of a good business must include investing in people within and outside your business.

“The philosophy of any good business is a stable approach to the market place; one that focuses on the needs and expectations of the stakeholder. Whatever policies are then developed to serve that market must be sustainable. The concept must be stable so as to serve the people. The focus must be on the human beneficiary of all these things – that they remain beneficiaries and not victims of your action. It is a people-centric approach to doing business,” Kolade said.

Thus far, about 8,000 students are believed to have enjoyed MTNF science and technology scholarships programme aside the MTNF-MUSON Music Scholarship programme, among other programmes of the foundation. The beneficiaries have formed themselves into an alumni to carry on the legacy. 

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