*Nigeria’s Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, addressing journalists
To effectively fight the spread of the pandemic Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country and avoid the catastrophe it has caused in Europe and Asian countries, Nigeria’s private sector top players are collaborating efforts under the Nigeria Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19. Their aim is to mobilise resources to support the efforts by the federal government of Nigeria to fight the pandemic that has spread to eight states and counting.
Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Nigeria’s Central Bank Governor, at a media briefing in Lagos yesterday told newsmen that the body is planning to raise a whopping N120 billion for the acquisition of necessary healthcare facilities for advocacy about the virus across the country, among others. He said the objective of the coalition is to mobilise private sector thought leadership, mobilise private sector resources, increase general public awareness, education, and buy-in, provide direct support to private and public healthcare ability to respond to the crisis as well as support the federal government’s efforts.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) boss said, “In response to the impact of the COVID-19 on the Nigerian economy, the CBN has in the last few days begun engaging Nigerian compatriots and stakeholders in the private sector on how to provide support to the Nigerian government in procuring equipment, funding and materials to combat the menace of this unfortunate pandemic in Nigeria.”
Emefiele said although the number of cases so far in the country stood at 51 as of Thursday, the private sector leaders were concerned that the number might rise exponentially in the next few weeks given the rapid of spread in other climes. He said Nigeria must prepare for the worst in responding because failure to do that would not be good for Nigeria. He said the CBN, on behalf of the Bankers’ Committee and in partnership with the private sector led by the Dangote Foundation and Access Bank, came together to form the Nigeria Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19.
Again, he said, “This coalition was created out of the urgent need to combat the unfolding COVID-19 crisis in Nigeria. The rate at which the virus is spreading is unprecedented and it appears we are fighting our most lethal adversary today. So far, the federal government has made strides in the fight, but it is clear that the private sector needs to step in to support efforts being made.”
For the smooth running of the coalition, he said the formed sub-committees. He stated, “The steering committee will be chaired by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, who currently chairs the Federal Government Committee on Covid-19. Other members of the committee will be announced later.
“The second one is the Funding Committee. This committee will be responsible for the initial funding of this effort. Membership comprises the CBN, Aliko Dangote, Herbert Wigwe (Access Bank), Jim Ovia (Zenith Bank Chairman), Tony Elumelu (UBA Chairman), Segun Agbaje (GTBank), Abdulsamad Rabiu, and Femi Otedola. Each member of this committee is expected to contribute at least N1 billion to this effort. More members are invited and allowed as long as they are willing to contribute N1 billion,” he added.
Emefiele said the Operational Committee would be responsible for project management, logistics, communication and advocacy. The CBN Governor said, “This comprises the CBN, Aliko Dangote Foundation, Access Bank, Zenith Bank, GTBank, Stanbic IBTC, Ecobank, Fidelity Bank and Nigerian Breweries. We held a video conference with the Bankers’ Committee this morning and membership of this committee was agreed during the video conference meeting.
“The fourth is the Technical Committee. This Committee is responsible for gathering data about the equipment and materials needed nationwide. They will also be responsible for intellectual leadership around testing issues, treatment protocols, isolation centers, etc. Membership Comprised of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), WHO, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Federal Ministry of Health and select members of the operational and funding committee.” The coalition, he further explained would be working with reputable institutions and consultants, including the Lagos State Commissioner of Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, Dr. Christian Happi and Dr. Phillip Onyebujo.