By Andrew Onyejuruuwa
As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to ravage the whole world, Nigeria yesterday recorded 35 new cases of the pandemic. This sad development in the country therefore brings the total number of its confirmed cases in Nigeria to 174. The Nigeria Cantre for Disease Control (NCDC), in a breakdown of the new cases said Lagos State, which is the epicenter in Nigeria and Osun State recorded nine incidences each; the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja seven; Akwa Ibom State, five; Edo State, two; while Ekiti, Kaduna, and Bauchi states recorded one case each.
Of the 174 cases, 163 are currently being managed; nine have been discharged while two have died. A state-by-state analysis of the figure showed Lagos currently has 91 cases; FCT, 35; Osun, 14; Oyo, eight; Akwa Ibom, five; Ogun, Edo and Kaduna four each; Bauchi, three; Enugu and Ekiti have two each, while Rivers and Benue have one each. However, the presidency has listed about 50 measures taken by the Buhari administration to combat the pandemic.
Mr. Femi Adesina, Presidential spokesman said the precautionary measures were carried out by federal government agencies and experts “under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari.” Among the measures, which Adesina listed in a statement yesterday, was the setting up of the presidential task force and the lockdown of Lagos, Ogun, and Abuja. He also highlighted the release of funds to Lagos State, the epicentre of COVID-19 in Nigeria, and the support provided to the NCDC to boost its operations. Adesina restated the president’s earlier message that in combating COVID-19, “there is no such thing as an overreaction or under-reaction, (rather) it is all about the right reaction by the right agencies and trained experts.”
Among the measures, which Adesina also attributed to Buhari, is the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to suspend its activities and that of the Chief Justice Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, to shut down courts in order to curb the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, the total contribution to the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) set up by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to raise funds to combat the pandemic now stands at N15.325 billion as at yesterday, according to a statement by the CBN.
The list of contributors to the COVID-19 fund, according to a statement issued on behalf of the coalition by the Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, showed that CACOVID, which was inaugurated last Thursday, has so far attracted contributions into the relief fund from 37 individuals and private organisations. The objective of CACOVID is to mobilise private sector thought leadership and private sector resources; increase general public awareness, education, and buy-in; and provide direct support to private and public healthcare ability to respond to the crisis as well as support the federal government’s efforts.
Those that have contributed to the fund include President, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, who donated N2 billion each into the fund while Alhaji Abdul Samad Rabiu (Bua Sugar Refinery); Mr. Segun Agbaje (GTBank); Mr. Tony Elumelu (United Bank for Africa); Chief Oba Otudeko (First Bank); Chief Jim Ovia (Zenith Bank); Mr. Herbert Wigwe (Access Bank); and Mr. Femi Otedola of Amperion Power Distribution, donated N1 billion each. Others included Pacific Holding Limited, Union Bank Plc, Sterling Bank Plc, Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Citi Bank Nigeria Ltd, FCMB, Fidelity Bank, Ecobank Nigeria, African Steel Mills and Multichoice Nigeria Limited.
The statement listed other contributors to include FSDH Merchant Bank, FBN Merchant Bank, Rand Merchant Bank, Coronation Merchant Bank, Sun Trust Bank, Providus Bank, Wema Bank, Unity Bank, Heritage Bank, Nova Merchant Bank, Polaris Bank, and Keystone Bank. Also, Globus Bank, Titan Trust Bank, Takagro Chemicals Limited, Ahmadu Mahmoud, and Handy Capital Limited made up the list of those that have so far made contributions into the CACOVID relief fund. Although the account is domiciled at the CBN, Nigerians are afraid that given the history of mismanagement in the country, these billions of naira that have been mopped up will if care is not taken end up in personal bank accounts in foreign banks. But it is up to the government to prove skeptic Nigerians wrong.