By Adedapo Adesanya
A coalition of oil and gas industry players led by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has kick-started the third phase of their COVID-19 support programme with the launch of a permanent Emergency and Infectious Diseases Hospital for the South-South Region in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
In a statement released on Sunday in Abuja by NNPC Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr Kennie Obateru, it was stated that the flagging off of the health facility was held event held over the weekend by the intervention group to deliver lasting medical infrastructure across the six-geopolitical zones in the country.
According to the state-owned oil company, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, who spoke at the event, affirmed that the project was part of the Nigerian Oil Industry Coalition initiative led by the NNPC to support the nation’s efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
He reiterated that the oil Industry was contributing about N21 billion worth of support provided through internal procurement processes of contributing companies.
Mr Sylva said that Bayelsa State was considered a suitable site for the project given its pioneering role in the history of oil and gas in the country and its current contribution of about 40 percent to onshore crude oil output.
On his part, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, represented by the corporation’s Group General Manager, National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), Mr Bala Wunti, who is also the coordinator of the initiative in the petroleum industry, disclosed that the agency was working with its Joint Venture (JV) partners across the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors to support the health sector.
He said that the NNPC-led intervention had allocated the N21 billion-worth of support to various international oil companies, indigenous operators with Joint Venture stakes across the oil sector.
He explained that the infectious diseases hospital to be sited on a 1,586 square metre-space would serve as zonal isolation centre for COVID-19 and would serve as a referral hospital for communicable diseases after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also present, Mr Lorenzo Fiorillo, Managing Director, Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) stated that the outbreak of COVID-19 had put a lot of strain on healthcare systems and personnel globally.
Mr Fiorillo, who spoke through Mr Macwon Jitubo, Head of Community Relations, said the company was on ground to fight the threat posed by the pandemic, which he explained had resulted in several deaths worldwide.
He said the project being delivered in Bayelsa State would prove to be a valuable medical asset to the South-South region of the country.
Commending the effort, the Bayelsa State Governor, Mr Douye Diri, applauded the innovativeness of the oil giant.
He also commended Mr Sylva for attracting the project to the state, who performed the ground-breaking ceremony in company of other dignitaries including Mr Chukwuemaka Nwajiobi, Minister of State for Education, who represented the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and Secretary to Government of Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha at the occasion.
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