Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, on Saturday, commended the federal government and the drive by the Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) and its joint venture partners to combat COVID-19 through the consolidation and improvement of medical facilities.
Governor Diri gave the commendation at the groundbreaking ceremony of a 200-bed medical facility initiated by the NAOC and sited in Bayelsa to cover the South South region.
The governor said the event is not only significant but also restates and demonstrates the necessary co-operation and social responsibility that must exist for the oil and gas industry as well as other businesses across the country.
In a press release by his Acting Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, the governor described the COVID-19 pandemic as the defining global health predicament of our time and the greatest challenge faced in several generations.
His words: “Countries are under lockdown. Travel is severely restricted. Traditional havens are compromised. If this episode has taught us any fundamental lesson, it is that those of us in positions should effect positive change deliberately and urgently.
“On our part, the Bayelsa State government took proactive actions to strengthen surveillance at our boundaries with neighbouring states to prevent the spread of COVID-19 into our state. With the diligence of the state taskforce on Covid 19, which I chair, and the cooperation of the citizens, we were largely successful in this quest.
“However, we are now dealing with a new reality, with the confirmation of an index case and four members of her family. So the timing of this event when the dynamics have altered is most welcome.
“COVID-19 is much more than a health crisis. By putting countries it touches under duress, it has the potential to make devastating social, economic and political crises that will leave serious distortions in the fabric of society. By providing assistance to keep the virus in check is therefore commendable.
“On behalf of the people and governments of the South-South states, I express my sincerest gratitude to the Minister of Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mallam Mele Kyari as well as the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Board, Engr. Simbi Wabote, for your obligation, insight and service to our zone and country.”
Chief Sylva, in his remarks, said the Nigerian oil and gas industry has embarked on an industry-wide collaborative and prevention initiative to combat the pandemic under the leadership of the NNPC.
According to him, the three key areas in alignment with the ongoing Federal Government efforts to cut the pandemic through the presidential task force include the provision of medical consumables, deployment of logistics and in-patient support system and the delivery of medical infrastructure, which amounted to 68million dollars (about N28billion).
“In recognition of the leveraging impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the critical sectors of our national economy, the Nigerian oil and gas industry, under the leadership of NNPC, embarked on industry wide collaborative and prevention initiative to combat the pandemic.
“This action is taken to support the national healthcare delivery facility and strengthen our collective national resolve in combating this pandemic,” Sylva said.
On his part, the NAOC Vice Chairman/Managing Director, Lorenzo Fiorillo, who was represented by the Community Relations Manager Mr. MacWen Jitubo, stated that the groundbreaking ceremony of the COVID-19 medical infrastructure was part of the intervention project sponsored by the company in the South South, adding that the project was necessitated by the outbreak of the pandemic.
According to Mr Fiorillo, the collaboration between government and the private sector at this critical moment is expedient for the vulnerable groups directly benefiting from the medical services that will be provided in the facility when completed.
“Defeating the scourge at this critical moment calls for concerted and sustainable effort through collaboration between government and the private sector.
“I thank Governor Diri for approving the site and also expeditiously providing the land where the medical facility is located and further ensuring that all necessary government process that are required for its kick-off were put in place without delay.
“Our sincere gratitude also goes to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva and the GMD of the NNPC for galvanising the entire oil and gas industry to embark on a massive intervention in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” Fiorillo said.
When completed the facility would offer general medical services to the public as well as a disease control centre, diagnostic laboratory, 150-200-bed spaces scalable on both flanks and behind.