Executive Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun has restated his administration’s support for private businesses operating within the state in a bid to improve and encourage more public-private partnerships in critical areas of development. The Governor gave the assurance at the official commissioning of an 80-bed isolation centre donated by Unilever Nigeria Plc and Lafarge Africa Plc.
In his address, Governor Abiodun who was ably represented by the Deputy Governor, Engr. Noimot Salako-Oyedele said Unilever and Lafarge Africa have again demonstrated their commitment to the wellbeing of indigenes and people living in Ogun state particularly as the world navigate the dynamics of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Deputy Governor while inspecting the facility said, “we assure the donors that the government will ensure that qualified health personnel are deployed to work in the facility as the government believes that the gesture will significantly contribute towards slowing down the spread of coronavirus within the state.”
In providing a background to the project, the Ogun State Commissioner for Health, Dr Tomi Coker acknowledged the swift response of both Lafarge Africa and Unilever Nigeria in supporting the state to mitigate the surge of the virus spread through proper response in managing the situation adequately.
“I was excited when both companies reached out to offer their support. Through our strategic engagements we were able to collaborate to deliver the facility for managing cases of COVID and other possible health outbreak in the state. We appreciate the two companies for this gesture.” Coker said.
This isolation centre is a purpose-built medical facility equipped with an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). It has an in-house facility for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) Testing, an ambulance response, a Computed Tomography (CT) Scan facility, Operating Theatre, mobile x-ray machines, multi-parameter patient monitoring equipment, among other facilities.
While acknowledging the support which Unilever has received from the Ogun State government, the Managing Director, Unilever West Africa, Mr Carl Cruz, said collaborating with Lafarge Africa to donate the isolation facility is part of the company’s vision and commitment to make sustainable living commonplace.
“A huge part of our operations is domiciled in Ogun State. Through the years we continue to have a close relationship with the Governor, the government, and citizens of the state. As the state with one of the largest congregations of industries in Nigeria, we have enjoyed support from the state. It is not surprising that we are here today to further push the boundaries of providing state of the art health care facility to support the government and its people in their drive to achieve a novel healthcare system to combat COVID and other health challenges” Cruz said.
He further added that “our response to the pandemic was through our hygiene products that were donated to State Governments (with Ogun as one of the leading beneficiaries), NGOs, religious bodies, and UN agencies, valued at N1.5 billion (Est. Eqv. US$.3m ). In addition, we donated over 16,000 COVID tests and 6 ventilators to support the healthcare system at a time when there was a scarcity of test kits during the pandemic”.
Regarding support for Governor Dapo Abiodun’s drive for investors in the state, Cruz informed that “the Unilever team was at the recently concluded 2nd Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) 2021 in Durban, South Africa, for exhibition with Ogun State government as the Gate Way State for investment in Nigeria. This is in demonstration of our commitment to the State Government and its people for their support in creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the state. We will continue to maintain this relationship in collaboration with the state government, its people, and multinationals like Lafarge to make the state achieve its full potential as an investment destination of choice.”
He added that “as cases of coronavirus infection decline, the intervention of Lafarge is now focused on working with the government and communities to reduce infections and eventually eliminate the new coronavirus. This he said would allow the Nigerian economy to enter a post-pandemic phase, thus boosting investment, productivity and jobs creation”.
Lafarge Africa has committed the sum of N500 million (Est. Eqv. US$1.28m) as part of the company’s intervention programme for managing the COVID-19 pandemic. The provisions consist of medical infrastructure including ambulances and essential personal protection equipment (PPE) for medical professionals. The programme also includes the provision of food relief across the company’s host communities to cushion the impact of the stay-at-home measures aimed at curtailing the spread of the coronavirus. At the peak of the Covid-19, the company converted its facility in Ashaka to an isolation centre fully supported by power generators. This intervention impacted over 11,000 families across Nigeria.