The novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, caught the world by surprise and turned to a global health emergency. The deadly disease hampered economic activies and burdened health systems. Nigeria was not excluded as the most populous black nation recorded its first case on February 27, 2020. The announcement created an understandable panic among Nigerians as even the top economies were already struggling with increasing cases.
In Nigeria, the disease met a struggling economy and health sector. It was evident that the government would need all the outside help it could get. The government did get the support from many responsible individuals and organisations that understood that the world was battling with the worst health crisis of the century.
The Flour Mills of Nigeria (FMN), led by its Chairman, John Coumantaros, was among the organisations that stood up to be counted when it mattered most. In March, Coumantaros joined the Private Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) as a funding member. CACOVID was set up by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in collaboration with the private sector.
In April, as parts of the nation were on lockdown to curtail the spread of COVID-19, Flour Mills became one of the highest contributors – together with CBN and Dangote Group – to the CACOVID relief fund with a donation of N2 billion. The company said the donation was part of its strategic initiatives and response plan to the pandemic that was spreading across the country.
This donation was made up of N1 billion in cash and another sum of N1 billion which was spent on food relief items and medical supplies to frontline medical and emergency responders around the country.
Some of the medical supplies and equipment that were given out by Flour Mills included 35,000 units of COVID-19 testing kits, 100/day field-testing capacity, pharmaceutical supplies for COVID-19, 75 ventilators and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for 10,000 medical and emergency workers.
Also included were 331,000 pieces of Personal Protective Equipment (N95 Masks, Coveralls, Protective gloves, Protective eyewear), sufficient for use for 10,000 health care professionals for two months.
The group also embarked on a relief distribution of food supplies worth $840,000 to the most vulnerable people across 12 Nigerian states as hunger bit harder amid the lockdown.
Flagging off the FMN COVID-19 response action, Group Chief Operating Officer, Boye Olusanya, said that the company would continue to partner with the Federal Government and other health agencies to reduce the impact of the pandemic.
“To reduce the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak, FMN will continue to work with the Federal Government and related agencies to provide relief materials. The safety of Nigerians is paramount to us, so we encourage all Nigerians to adhere to the necessary protective measures against the virus and its spread,” Olusanya said.
The company’s chairman and a member of CACOVID funding committee, John Coumantaros, is the son of George S. Coumantaros, who founded FMN in 1960. Born in 1981, Coumantaros has a bachelor’s degree in History from Yale University. He and his company have proven themselves as heroes of Nigeria’s fight against COVID-19 with their valuable support.
For their massive contributions to Nigeria’s relative success against the ravaging disease, John Coumantaros and his Flour Mills of Nigeria are our #ALEDEHCOVID-19Heroes of the week.