At a time, the world is facing a pandemic occasioned by the novel Corona Virus (COVID-19), resources are being overstretched as not a single country was prepared for the outcome of what has become a disaster of unimaginable proportion.
All across the world, nations are looking for support from every angle, as death figures continue to rise, especially in Asia, Europe, and North America, just as available health facilities have been stretched beyond projections.
As such, billionaires like Jack Ma, among others, have dipped their hands into their coffers to purchase medical equipment, protective gears, face masks, testing kits, vehicles, and ventilators for onward distribution to various countries.
Here in Nigeria, with limited resources available to both federal and state governments, they reached out to corporate bodies, organizations, public-spirited individuals and governmental agencies that could ship in support to help arrest the spread of COVID-19.
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) under the management team led by Dr. Bashir Jamoh has risen to the occasion by providing a number of medical equipment and items such as ventilators, ambulance, buses and response vessels to the Federal Government, Lagos State, and Anambra State Governments towards the fight against the spread of COVID 19.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha, while receiving items said the Federal Government requires the cooperation of all and sundry, corporate bodies and individuals, in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that is ravaging the world.
He stated this in Abuja while receiving on behalf of the Federal Government volunteer personnel, ambulance, buses, and some medical equipment, including ventilators donated by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19. He described the fight against COVID-19 as a collective responsibility.
The Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, said the Agency was deploying its existing facilities, such as fast intervention vessels, ambulances, and buses, among others, to support the efforts by the Federal and State Governments to solve a national medical emergency that required all hands on deck.
The materials donated included ventilators, oxygen concentrators, personal protective equipment, rapid test kits, and hand sanitizers, as well as a cash donation of N30 million.
Commending NIMASA for the gesture, Mustapha advised other organizations and well-meaning Nigerians to emulate the Agency and support the efforts to curb the spread of the pandemic, so that Nigerians could live their normal lives again.
The SGF stated, “I wish to restate that this is a war on Nigeria and the Federal Government, in conjunction with other stakeholders, will continue to do all it takes to win this war as we are more prepared than ever before to ensure we protect the lives of our citizens.
“Let me encourage Nigerians to endure this lockdown order as it is not intended to trample on their fundamental human rights, rather it is to assist Government trace infected persons and curb the spread. In no distant time, we will all go back to our normal lives.”
Speaking at the presentation of the materials, Jamoh praised the Federal Government’s proactive steps to contain the pandemic. He declared that COVID-19 was a challenge Nigeria must overcome, saying he is satisfied to see that the Agency’s existing facilities are coming in handy in the attempt to contain the outbreak.
The Director-General, who was represented by Coordinator, Abuja Zonal Office of the Agency, Mr. Zailani Musa Attah, stated, “We at NIMASA have decided to deploy our extant capacities and facilities in the fight against this pandemic. We did not invest new funds in purchasing these ambulances and buses. We simply deployed them to fight this common enemy. COVID-19 is a common enemy and all hands must be on deck to win the war against it at this critical time in the country’s history.
“We have had to readjust our priorities to contribute our quota to the urgent need to get Nigeria out of this national emergency.”
Jamoh added, “I wish to commend the efforts of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and your dexterity in ensuring Nigeria is totally free from this virus. As a responsible Agency, we will continue to support the government’s efforts across the board and I am confident that collectively, we will win this fight with the help of the Almighty.”
NIMASA had recently made similar donations to the Lagos State government at the flag-off of the anti-COVID-19 campaign, which the Agency plans to take to the six geopolitical zones of the country. It also pledged that there were handy volunteers from the Agency and experts ready to work with the government.
While presenting the items to the Governor of Lagos, Dr. Jamoh stated that the Agency felt it necessary to make the donations to Lagos, as the state remains the epicenter for the virus in Nigeria while commending Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for being proactive in his response to the pandemic.
he Said: “I want to commend Mr. Governor, for his exemplary leadership in the management of this pandemic, we as a regulatory Agency felt it was necessary to support the state as responsible tenants of Lagos and we hope this would go a long way in our collective effort in fighting COVID-19”
Dr. Jamoh also disclosed that alongside the items, the Agency was also assisting the Lagos state Government with a sum of N20 million, while disclosing that all geopolitical zones would benefit from the NIMASA’s humanitarian gesture.
“Our donations are not limited to Lagos alone, this is just the flag-off, we will also make donations to other states affected and as well ensure that all geopolitical zones of the country benefit; this we will continue to do as we fight against this deadly scourge”, he said.
Commenting on the vessels that were made available to the state, the NIMASA DG stated that it would assist Lagos in responding to incidents in the coastal states for anchorage evacuation if need be, and that the crew onboard are volunteer staff from the Agency who have been trained on manning the Fast Intervention Vessels.
Dr. Jamoh also appreciated the Federal Government for its timely response to the pandemic, stating that the government has created roles for the necessary agencies to fight the scourge.
He particularly commended the efforts of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in responding to infected persons as he also appealed to the media to play their roles in sensitizing the public stressing that everyone has a role to play in the fight against the pandemic.
An elated Lagos State Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Rabiu Olowo, who received the items on behalf of the state government, said they were overwhelmed by the goodwill and support from NIMASA.
“This is most welcomed and on behalf of the governor and the good people of Lagos State, I say thank you. As you are all aware Lagos State is the epic center of this pandemic in Nigeria. Everyone is fighting this pandemic across the globe.
“We have seen the response of the State to this and the true leadership of Mr. Governor in fighting this. This donation will go a long way in supporting and complementing the state effort towards fighting this Pandemic,” he stressed.
Items handed over include ventilators, ambulance, fast intervention vessels, buses, oxygen concentrators, personal protective equipment, and hand sanitizers, amongst others.
NIMASA extended its humanitarian gesture to Anambra State, where it equally donated medical materials for use in the efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and treat those already infected.
Secretary to the Anambra State Government, Professor Solo Chukwulobelu, who received the materials on behalf of the state government, commended the Management of NIMASA and pledged that the materials will be well utilized. Among the materials donated were ventilators, oxygen concentrators, and hand sanitizers.
By Olalekan Olufemi