The Akwa Ibom State Government has rejected 10 vehicles donated to it for contact tracing in the face of the COVID- 19 pandemic barely 48 hours after it accepted the oil giant’s gesture.
The multinational oil company last Friday donated WHO-standard RNA COVID-19 test kits for 1,920 tests, 1000 units of sample collection kits, two brand new ambulances and 15 other vehicles to the State Government.
The items worth millions were received by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem amid commendation.
However, 48 hours after, the State Government rejected the 10 vehicles donated by ExxonMobil describing them as ‘used and worn-out’.
The action was preceded the call by the federal lawmaker representing Eket/Esit Eket/Onna/Ibeno constituency for the vehicles to be rejected on the ground that they were obsolete.
The State Government, in a statement by the Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Udoh, said its decision to reject the vehicles followed an evaluation of other donations by the oil company.
“The vehicles are considered too old and not in good enough operational conditions to withstand the rigors of contact tracing which they were meant to serve.
“However, the state government has accepted the two ambulances and 20 hospital beds also donated by the oil company despite the fact that the ambulances are converted buses while the beds are below the standard of those currently in secondary healthcare facilities in the state.
“The Akwa Ibom State Government appreciates the continued support of corporate bodies and private individuals who have so far made cash or other materials donations towards the fight against COVID-19 in the state,” the statement reads.
The Managing Director of ExxonMobil Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Paul McGrath, during the donation last weekend said the firm was partnering with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other stakeholders on ways to halt the spread of coronavirus.
He said ExxonMobil’s donation was part of an oil and gas industry’s effort as coordinated by the NNPC to provide medical supplies, deploy additional equipment and to support medical infrastructure as well as in-patient treatment.
McGrath said that the NNPC/MPN Joint Ventures efforts were being guided by government agencies’ advice with regard to specific requirements and determining the areas of greatest need.
“Supporting Nigeria’s fight against COVID-19 requires a broad, collective effort that should follow the guidelines established by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as well as the State and Federal Governments,” he said.