Journalism of Courage

NNPC’s N11bn Unprecedented Rally Against Coronavirus


Wale Solomon

Nothing exemplifies the harmony and sense of corporate responsibility that now permeates the oil and gas industry as the recent announcement by the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari, of the industry’s $30 million intervention fund to combat coronavirus.

It was an unprecedented corporate empathy in scope, timing and the short time it took to rally the industry behind the national effort to combat the deadly Covid -19 which continues to spread in the country. If this is not the first time the NNPC was acting with such dispatch during a national crisis, it is certainly the first time it mobilized the oil and gas industry for a collective response to the national call.

On Friday March 27, the NNPC GMD led a delegation of the Corporation and representatives of oil companies to deliver Coronavirus testing kits, a brand-new ambulance, hospital beds and other in-patient support systems to the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital.

It was the first day of a four-day deployment plan for a $30 million (N11 billion) donation by Nigeria’s oil industry for the fight against coronavirus. It was an unmatched industry rally behind Nigeria’s effort to stop the spread of the virus and empower the health system to contain outbreak. Spearheaded by the NNPC GMD, the donors comprised major upstream oil and gas producers, indigenous upstream producers as well as service providers and downstream players in Nigeria.

Tagged ‘The Oil and Gas Industry Intervention Initiative on COVID-19’, it was an initiative designed to put the country ahead of the pandemic in line with the ongoing federal government’s effort. It was designed as a three-pronged covid-19 intervention initiative which targeted urgent needs in the areas of Diagnostic and Protective Kits, Logistics and In-Patient Support System and delivery of Intensive Care Facilities.

The intervention would deliver 40 ambulances, 10,000 test kits, 10 million surgical masks, 20,000 respiratory masks,1,000 ventilators, 120,000 safety gloves, 3,000 oxygen kits and four diagnostic laboratories. The fund would also provide makeshift intensive care facilities with beds and other equipment in states regarded as the epicenter of the pandemic in Nigeria.
The objective is to bring immediate relief to highly impacted epicentres of the virus where cases continue to rise. For now, Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory have continued to record more numbers while cases have also been recorded in Ogun, Enugu, Oyo, Osun, Bauchi, Edo and Rivers states. To also benefit from the NNPC largesse are densely populated areas of the country with strong communal transmission of the virus and NNPC operational catchment areas.
Each of the 36 states of the country would also receive at least one retrofitted Toyota Hiace High Roof ambulance, sets of testing kits and sets of patient support system. It is no doubt a timely boost for the country’s health system and the effort to curb spread of coronavirus.
As expected, the NNPC GMD is one to ensure transparency and faultless execution of a plan. Thus, a governance structure was put in place to supervise all purchases and deliveries. The structure is headed by the NNPC GMD, who is the sponsor of the initiative. Other members of the Steering Committee include the GGM NAPIMS (LEAD), Chairman OPTS, Chairman IPPG, GGM COMD, DAPMAN Chairman, Country Chair, Shell Group of Coys, Chairman & MD, ExxonMobil Coys and Chairman & MD of Chevron Coys.
The Working Team of the intervention include GM Services of NAPIMS, 5 representatives each from OPTS, IPPG, COMD, NNPC Medical and NNPC Downstream entities.
The working team is guided by an execution plan which kicked-off on Thursday March 26 with a strategy meeting between the NNPC and its partners. It also involved consultations between the team and selected states on sites where makeshift intensive care units would be located in the states. This would be followed on the second day by deployment of testing kits and ambulances to Abuja and Lagos.
On the third day, March 28, the team led by Kyari would inaugurate the makeshift ICU at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital.  On the same day, testing kits and ambulances would be deployed to 12 states including all the states with covid-19 cases. Sunday, March 29 would be the turn of Lagos State to have the makeshift ICU installed and take deliveries of testing kits and ambulances. The team would make similar deliveries in additional 12 states same day.
The intervention would round-off on Monday March 31 with the inauguration of regional makeshift ICUs in the six geo-political zones of the country. The exercise would conclude with the deployment of testing kits and ambulances to the remaining 12 states.
All the states which got the team’s makeshift ICU would take deliveries of all critical hospital equipment and items expected in an intensive care unit of any modern hospital. The equipment donated includes: an oxygen generating plant; one brand new ambulance, six NNPC operational ambulance vehicles, two ventilators, patient monitor, hospital beds, bedside cupboards, overtop tables, air conditioners, fully automated 5-part hematology analyzer and semi-automated chemistry analyzer.
While announcing the intervention fund, the NNPC GMD said “Health systems, the world over, are getting overwhelmed. Countries with stronger health systems are struggling to contain the disease.
“It is obvious that to fight this menace, we all have to collaborate to ensure that Nigeria defeats the virus.”
According to him, the intervention was aimed at supporting the national healthcare delivery facilities. Kyari further said the project covered three key areas, namely :(a) Provision of medical consumables. (b)Deployment of logistics and in-patient support system.  (c) Delivery of medical infrastructure.”
He said the three thematic support initiatives amount to $30 million (N11 billion) adding that “To address the increasing demand for medical services, we are immediately providing medical consumables covering testing kits, medical protective suits and ambulances to the highly impacted areas of the federation.”
What the intervention has shown, among other things, is that NNPC and the oil and gas industry care about the health and safety of the country, its people and its economy. NNPC in particular has demonstrated capacity for empathy and to be proactive when the need arises. The Corporation, the oil industry along with other sectors, have intervened at a time of uncertainties when a virus poses an existential threat to the world.
NNPC under Kyari has continued to demonstrate result-oriented approaches to challenges in the industry and the nation in a way many had thought impossible. We are seeing an uncommon commitment to a vibrant, prosperous and transparent industry, and to the nation.
Mr. Solomon writes from Surulere, Lagos
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