by James Ikenna
The ongoing efforts by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)-led Oil and Gas Sector coalition against COVID-19 was bolstered Thursday in Lagos with the handing over of six ambulances and medical consumables to the South West states.
The donation which was presented by the Hon. Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, on behalf of the NNPC and the Independent Petroleum Producers Group (IPPG), comprising of 26 indigenous oil companies, is part of the N21 billion intervention initiative on the COVID-19 pandemic by the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry.
The items donated to Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti, Osun, Oyo and Ondo states were received by the Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, who is a member of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Speaking at the ceremony, Chief Timipre Sylva said apart from the six ambulances, the states would also get thousands of testing kits, Personal Protective Equipment, including face masks, body suits, hand gloves and sanitisers.
He said similar donations had earlier been made by the Oil and Gas Sector in Abuja, Rivers and Bayelsa states, adding that collaboration was needed to defeat the novel Coronavirus.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources added that similar items will also be delivered to Kano and Katsina States, stressing that in line with the Oil and Gas Intervention Initiative’s plan of establishing permanent and sustainable medical infrastructure in each of the geopolitical zones in the coming days, the industry would be conducting a groundbreaking activity for the building of emergency and infectious diseases hospitals in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State and in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
According to the Minister, the gesture would be extended to all states of the federation in line with the mandate of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 within the coming weeks.
On his part, Dr. Mamora commended the initiative of the Oil and Gas Sector in the fight against COVID-19.
“I thank you very much on behalf of the PTF and I know that posterity will be kind to you for standing up to be counted during this critical period.
“These donations will help fortify our healthcare system. Nigeria and Nigerians will not forget you for your noble effort”, he said.
Speaking on behalf of the South West governors, Sanwo-Olu said the donation would be used to support the critical infrastructure that was a challenge to the healthcare Industry.
He said: “I want to assure you that we will put it to judicious use and we will ensure that all the items are delivered to their respective states. They will go immediately to the front line and will be deployed to ensure that our people get well and come out of this pandemic alive,” he said.
IPPG Chairman, Mr Ademola Adeyemi-Bero, said the group, made up of indigenous oil firms, was working towards procuring 5million face masks, 100, 000 test kits, 12 ambulances, ventilators, beddings and overalls for healthworkers.
He said the group would also donate one isolation unit in a location to be advised by the NNPC and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and molecular labs in some parts of the country.
According to him, IPPG members were also observing the health protocols put in place by government in their facilities in order to contain the virus.
Earlier in his address of welcome, Mr. Bala Wunti, Group General Manager, National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) who is also Coordinator of the Initiative, said the initiative of the Oil and Gas Sector was based on an informed business interest, noting that If economic activities were down, there would be no need for oil and gas.
“We are at a crossroad today and that is why the Industry made an informed decision to come together to do what is right to help Nigeria mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic.”