The natural riches that our country enjoys are a resource that must benefit all Nigerians. This is a belief that is fundamental to the Midwestern Oil and Gas approach to exploration and the development of oil fields in our country. We firmly believe that any extraction strategy that doesn’t also benefit the local communities we are working in, is simply unsustainable.
A shared resource
“In order for everyone in our nation to enjoy the benefits of our oil and gas reserves, it’s absolutely critical for private operators to engage directly with those host communities,” says our Chairman Mr Onajite Okoloko. “Community engagement is vital, not just to ensure the security of any operations, but also because it the only way to ensure the sustainability of any operations. Only with the passion and commitment of local people, working together with oil and gas businesses, will we all be able to build an industry that is for the benefit of all.”
So what does this kind of engagement mean, on a practical level? Well, for Midwestern Oil and Gas, it’s all about making sure that we are completely committed to investing in the cultures and traditions of the people we work with. We really do believe that the only way for our operations to be sustainable and successful is for them to be seen as a contributor to the lives of local people – something that adds to and promotes the culture and values of these host communities.
A big part of this comes down to seeing these host communities very much as strategic partners in our endeavours – a critical part of building for our future growth and shared success. We realise this in a number of ways. The first is through our CSR policy, which aims to grow the host communities we work in economically, helping to improve quality of life and to encourage local entrepreneurship. Eliminating hunger and ensuring environmental sustainability are key areas of focus. We also engage closely with future generations, by investing in education programmes at a local level. The difference we can make not only offers inspiration to young people, but it also contributes to the creation of a national workforce that is educated, capable and highly skilled. We’re proud to be able to make a difference in this way, starting at a local level.
Of course our engagement with local communities also takes a fundamentally economic form, as we’re keen to employ local business people in our operations wherever and whenever we can. We always try to award contracts, where possible, to community-based contractors, in order to contribute directly to the local economy. We’ve also help to train many local workers to increase their employment opportunities. Finally, we’re investing in local infrastructure projects – whether it’s providing electrical transformers, street lights, buses for public transport or pick ups for local security teams.
“We firmly believe that this kind of direct social investment, making a practical difference for people on the ground, really is the best way to create stronger links between our business and the communities we are lucky enough to be a part of,” says Mr Okoloko. “But we also see this as being not just for their benefit, or for ours – but for the whole of Nigeria. This kind of engagement is a model that should inspire every company in this country to act only in ways that benefit as many ordinary Nigerians as possible.”