INTELS CSR: A model for companies operating in the Niger-Delta

Intels CSR

INTELS is known to be a leader in the oil and gas services sector of Nigeria. In its 35 years of operation in Nigeria, the company has built an enviable reputation as a competent, responsible and trusted investor in the country. A proof of the company’s competence is the manner it has managed the Onne Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone, which is the largest of its kind in the world. In a similar vein the company has shown that Public Private Partnership is possible in the management of the nation’s port facilities. The Onne Port has become a model for port management in Nigeria primarily owing to the commendable and exemplary way INTELS has managed the Port. Many have recommended the INTELS example as the model for PPP in port management and other sectors of the nation’s economy at large.It is important to add that the company is not only competent in technical operations; the company is also a leader in community relations and engagement.

Many focus on the giant strides of the company in the oil and gas services industry and port management in Nigeria. However, what observers may not have noticed is the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) philosophy of the company, which should actually be a model for every company operating in the Niger Delta region, and every other company that seeks to institutionalise a conflict-free relationship with its host communities. Being a result oriented company that would rather expend resources on executing beneficial and life changing projects, not many would read about INTELS CSR initiatives in a newspaper or come across it so often in any other media as some other companies would have done. Nevertheless, the verifiableachievementsin various communities in the Niger Delta point to the fact that INTELS has displayed a superior CSR philosophy that should be emulated by other companies.That the company in its 35years of operations in the Niger Delta, has not witnessed a single community action or protest against it, is a significant validation of its CSR philosophy.Likewise, the host communities have adopted the company as a full-fledged member of their respective communities, with a commendable sense of ownership in the operations of the company. These communities cut across Rivers, Delta, and Cross River States where INTELS has its footprints.

The company’s Integrated Partnership Approach (IPA) to CSR is predicated on three objectives. First is to empower the indigenes of host communities, in a sustainable way, through the provision of employment and improved welfare. The second objective is to plan and execute integrated community development programmes with full community input and participation. The third objective is adoption of best practices that guarantee community friendly relationship.In order to function properly, the model categorises stakeholders into three: company, government, and communities. Each of these stakeholders has respective roles and expectations in the overall success of the IPA. This helps the communities to have a clear understanding of what is expected of them and what to expect from the company.

One of the major benefits of the IPA is the opportunity it provides for communities to determine and own projects executed. Unlike other linear CSR practices that allow the company to decide a project for the community, which may turn out irrelevant and unappreciated, the IPA allows communities to decide what will deliver the maximum benefits for the people. In order to provide a fair understanding of the success of the INTELS’ IPA, I will provide an assessment based on the three thematic areas of the philosophy as earlier outlined.

In empowerment of indigenes of host communities, INTELS probably holds the award for the best performing company in local content compliance. Over 40% of all the employees in INTELS are from Rivers State, which hosts the headquarters of the company; and over 60% of all employees of the companyare from the Niger Delta, which has contributed immensely to the development of the various communities.In this regard, the king of Onne, His Royal Highness Hon. (Dr.) J.D Osaronuin letter to INTELS commended the company for developing the community into a metropolis. In another instance, he further declared that the community told their young men and women to utilise their earnings from INTELS in a judicious manner that supports the development of the community. And as a result many of the indigenes of the host communities have built houses and initiated viable businesses through the income they earnfrom INTELS Nigeria Limited.

As much as the company would have loved to employ all the qualified and interested indigenes of the host communities, it is handicapped by the non-availability of space. Hence, INTELSdevised other sustainable means of creating employment for the unemployed in the communities. The company introduced three empowerment programmes that have been well resourced to achieve the intended purpose.Through the Youth Skill Acquisition Programme (YSAP), the company has assisted in training indigenes to prepare for possible employment with INTELS or any other company operating within the Onne Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone.This way the company contributes to the employability of the young minds in the communities. A similar programme is the Host Community Graduate Trainee Scheme (HCGTS) dedicated to training graduates within INTELS with a possibility of permanent employment after the programme. The trainings are tailored to empower participants in different areas of oil and gas services sector, including pipe welding, structural welding, marine engineering, mud engineering, AutoCad and other relevant specialisations. For those that may not be retained at the end of their programme, the company would have equipped them enough to either start a business or become employable by other employers in the industry.

In economic empowerment, INTELS has embraced the local content philosophy wholly in a manner that truly empowers the people. The company continuallyimproves the lives of locals by awarding contracts to capable members of the communities to support their personal businesses. As a matter of policy the company reserves some community developmental projects to qualified contractors in the communities. A typical example is the road project at Rumuokwurusi where the Landlord Families registered a company specifically to execute the project with elected members of the various families as directors of the company. So far, in addition to over 20, 000 employees, 40% of whom are from the host communities, INTELS has created over 30,000 direct and indirect jobs in various communities across the Niger Delta. The mission is to ensure that no employable indigene is unemployed.

The company has also contributed greatly to the academic progress of the host communities through scholarship schemes that have benefited many young and bright minds. It is often said that an educated mind is empowered to think for himself and equipped enough to make informed decision. The scholarship programmes are also merged with social activities for youths in the communities in order to channel the energy of the young ones into positive causes. Such activities include sporting events, traditional festivals and carnivals and other activities that encourage togetherness, peace and unity. The company also has a football academy that is well funded to provide the requisite training for aspiring footballers from the host communities.

In the area of project execution, INTELS has delivered top quality projects in communities where it operates. Projects are agreed and selected based on their ability to offer immediate and long-term benefits, provide collective benefit for the whole community rather than few individuals; and possess a multiplier effect on the community and its economy. Likewise, the sustainability of a project is also a major consideration. The company’s CSR philosophy discourages execution of projects that will be difficult to sustain years down the line, and eventually become useless to the community.Some projects that have been executed by INTELS in various communities across three States in Niger Delta include the construction of primary and secondary school blocks, provision of befitting civic centres, town halls and palaces; and construction of road and drainage projects. Other projects are water boreholes, ultra-modern markets, provision of electricity transformers and generators, and the construction of public conveniences to support hygiene in the communities. In response to the healthcare challenges of the communities, INTELS in partnership with Rivers State introduced the Mobile Clinic, which is designed to take healthcare services to the people’s doorsteps. By 2013 alone, after four years of its establishment, the Mobile Clinic had provided consultations for over 70, 000 individuals across Niger-Delta communities.

Finally, people that aspire for greatness are often advised to identify giants and ride on their shoulders, because it is a wiser strategy to emulate those who have weathered the storm and are still standing as giants. In CSR practice in Nigeria and especially the Niger Delta, INTELS singly stands as the giant that all other companies should emulate. The company has shown that it is possible to do business in any society, excel and maintain a trustworthy and sincere relationship with members of the community. In this regard, INTELS is not just a leader; it is many steps ahead of other companies in Nigeria. The CSR feat of INTELS Nigeria Limited cannot be captured in a publication of this nature; it is a phenomenon that can only be appreciated by experience.

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