Wednesday, April 08, 2020 / 4:48 PM / By Oando /
Header Image Credit: Ecographics
Amidst the massive challenge of reining in the health and economic consequences of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the struggle of global governments to raise resources to combat the problem, a growing number of private sector actors have decided to step into the fray by providing financial and material support to public sector efforts.
Nigeria's oil and gas sector, the largest contributor to the local economy, has also risen to the occasion in an initiative spearheaded by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). In a television programme interview on Monday, April 6 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 Oil Sector -Hands To The Plough
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 Work of Donors- Equipment and 'Soft' Help
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.
Hinged on their belief that no one should be left behind or uninformed about the virus and measures to curtail its spread, Oando recently launched a new programme that enables its employees, also known as the Humans of Oando as well as their families and friends, to support awareness on the pandemic and preventive measures to be adopted by the general public. To this end, they have recorded and disseminated short video messages of themselves in different Nigerian languages to ensure every Nigerian is educated in a language they can easily understand.
With mobile phone penetration in Nigeria at over 85%, the company is actively pushing videos on mobile platforms to ensure it reaches its intended audience. Oando has also spread a message of kindness through a video, encouraging people to look into their communities and their direct sphere of influence, and show kindness to those who need it the most, reinforcing their belief that continued small contributions will in the long-term create major impact.
Playing The Indigenous Card
Observers have noted that it was encouraging to see the indigenous oil and gas companies playing such an integral role in all facets of containing the spread of the virus, from education to actual treatment reinforcing a global phenomenon of collaboration to solve the issues that the pandemic has unexpectedly thrown at all of us. In the television interview with the NNPC GMD, interviewer Nancy Illoh-Nnaji made reference to the amount of local oil companies being mentioned in the list of donors, being a testament to the strength of local capacity in the sector.
This was emphasised by Oando's GMD when he spoke to the fact that indigenous companies make up a significant part of the industry's production contributions, which are growing steadily, especially over the last 10 years by way of purchase of divested assets from international oil companies (IOCs) and that the future of the oil and gas sector is in indigenous companies.
The GMD's parting remarks was that, "This is the hallmark of good corporate citizenship which the oil and gas industry is known for. We remain accountable to Nigerians and will continue to provide details of what has been collected, how it's distributed and where it's being delivered to."
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