The impact of the global pandemic that is COVID-19 on world economies and human lives is so far reaching; it would be impractical to expect Governments alone to fix. From the onset private sector companies and individuals globally have seen it as their civic duty to help in the containment of the virus and the Nigerian private sector has been no different.
With the number of confirmed cases in Nigeria growing, we have seen over the past few weeks, private sector companies in the FMCG, Financial Services and FINTECH sectors stepping up to the mantle to support the Government’s efforts to tackle the spread of corona virus and also as a show of good corporate citizenship.
The oil and gas sector, the largest contributor to the economy has also risen to the occasion in an initiative spearheaded by the NNPC. In a television programme interview the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, said “The coronavirus pandemic is a global issue; as a country we are not insulated from it as already seen by the growing number of people affected by the virus. The first thing that needs to be resolved is the health of our country men, this is a difficult time for the country, and no Government on its own can resolve all the issues the pandemic has thrown at us. This industry is one that clearly benefits from the country, we contribute to the growth and development of the country and so we must come together to support the country.”
The GMD spoke to the first leg of the intervention which saw Upstream players commit N11.4bn ($30million) to be collected in kind and handed over to the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 to aid both the Federal and State Governments in their fight to contain the spread of the coronavirus. According to the NNPC boss, 33 Upstream companies made the contributions including indigenous companies such as Oando, Aiteo, Seplat, Shoreline, Amni International Petroleum, Eroton Exploration and Production as well as International Oil Companies like Eni, Total, Shell and Chevron. He went on to explain that the contributions from sector players had grown to N21bn and continues to grow as a result of Downstream and Service players joining the partnership.
These contributions will support three thematic areas; the provision of medical consumables such as face masks and testing kits among others, the deployment of logistics and in-patient support systems such as ventilators and the delivery of temporary isolation medical centres and permanent medical infrastructure for use during this period and after the pandemic.
The GMD indicated that 60% of the resources will go towards the third thematic area – the delivery of permanent medical infrastructure across the country, seen as a long term intervention to upgrade the country’s healthcare facilities but with immediate visibility and impact.
Scaling solutions rapidly to address what could potentially become a national crisis requires significant investment, innovation and collaboration. In this regard the individual indigenous companies have gone one step further to deploy additional initiatives to support the containment of the coronavirus; some with Nigeria’s peculiarities in mind.
The sector has made commendable efforts in the area of medical relief. Seplat Petroleum and Waltersmith, have donated some medical supplies and equipment to the Edo State Government, including masks, temperature guns, motorised sprayers and other personal protective equipment.
OVH Energy (an Oando licensee) and Aiteo have also made contributions to the Government’s efforts by way of the donation of ambulances whilst MRS donated test kits, medical overalls and ambulances. Other companies like Matrix Energy made financial contributions towards the procurement of necessary medical equipment.