The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Ltd. and Seplat Energy have provided free eye care intervention to at least 3,000 persons from the oil-producing communities of Imo.
The oil companies also performed 150 Cataract surgeries and provided 2,000 reading glasses at the 2023 “Eye Can See” programme.
Declaring the programme open in Owerri, the Commissioner for Niger Delta Affairs, Dr Henry Okafor, commended NNPC Ltd/Seplat Energy for supporting the State Government’s health sector.
“What you are doing here today is not as simple as performing surgeries and giving drugs to some of our sick people but it is a clear indication that you know what the people of the oil-producing area seriously need.
“It plays a good psychological role in their lives because they know that with these benefits they can build more affinity and working relationship with you,” Okafor said.
He also said that the gesture would help to bring communities closer to the oil companies.
He assured the companies of the State Government’s continued partnership for the development of the state.
The commissioner further advised them to always inform the State Government about their corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects in the state for proper documentation and record keeping.
Okafor said such records would help the government to counter accusations by host communities.
Earlier, the Chief Upstream Investment Officer, NNPC Upstream Investment Management Services, Mr Bala Wunti, said the company’s socially responsible business was geared towards economic empowerment of oil communities and Nigeria.
“We are sensitive to the needs of the people and our goal is to ensure that Nigerians benefit from our CSR intervention based on verifiable and critically assessed needs of the various identified benefitting states across the country.
“In NNPC Ltd, our vision for social intervention is to continue to operate ethically and sustainably and deal with the environment and social impacts occasioned by our activities,” he said.
Wunti, who was represented by Mrs Wilson Halimat, said NNPC Ltd, along with its partner, has implemented various projects in the areas.
He said that on education, they embarked on building and equipping of schools and classrooms, laboratories, donation of books, scholarships and quiz competitions.
He said that the company had also sponsored skill acquisition and economic empowerment, healthcare, solar power, and other infrastructural intervention projects.
“The Eye Can See initiative is the signature CSR health programme of NNPC Ltd/Seplat Energy designed to provide quality eye care for people in its host communities.
“The aim is to prevent and reduce cases of permanent loss of vision, provide free reading glasses and treat other eye-related problems,” Wunti said.
He further said that the programme, which commenced 12 years ago, had so far screened at least 86,226 patients, dispensed over 38,555 glasses and successfully performed over 3,757 eye surgeries.
He said the annual programme was targeted at persons with various eye problems in the host communities.
In a remark, the Managing Director, Seplat East Onshore Ltd, Mrs Ibi-Ada Itotoi, said the programme was part of its yearly CSR.
Itotoi promised to improve upon next year’s programme with the support of its partners.
“This outreach we are doing is just a way of saying thank you to you for allowing us in your communities, for cooperating with us, and for having your representatives at the various forums.
“We know that without you, there is no way we can operate.
“We have seen some receiving glasses and some also receiving surgeries.
“There is no greater joy that any human being can have than to see that because of what you are doing, someone else’s life is improved,” she said.
The managing director, who appealed for more partnership with members of the host communities, pledged that Seplat, in partnership with NNPC Ltd., would continue to improve on the life of the host communities.
In an interview, an ophthalmologist and member of the medical team, Dr Godwin Isaiah, underscored the need for proper care of the eye.
Isaiah, who said that cataract and glaucoma were the two commonest causes of blindness, cautioned against self-medication, including the use of battery and acid water for eye treatment.
“The eye is one of the most important organs of the body.
“Engage in basic nutrition; do not patronize quacks and see your eye surgeon or ophthalmologist when you have eye problems,” he said.
A 66-year-old retiree, Mr Celestine Enwereonye, who got had surgery, commended NNPC Ltd/Seplat Energy for their gesture.
Another beneficiary, Mrs Geraldine Iruobi, said, “I could hardly see with my eyes.
“I used to either close one eye before I could see, but after the surgery was performed, I can now see clearly with the two eyes.”
A statement earlier released by the media group stated that the Eye Can See project is in line with Sustainable Development Goal 3, which focuses on healthy lives and promotion of wellbeing of all at all ages.
Other objectives of the Eye Can See initiative include provision of free optical treatment at all levels to members of the communities, reduce cases of permanent loss of vision, provide free reading glasses and treatment of other eye-related problems.
It also includes educating patients on ways to care for the eyes and how to detect glaucoma and lifestyle changes required to reduce the rates of hypertension and diabetes.