By Stephen Ubanna
The four month-old Coronavirus, which originated from Wuhan, Hebei Province of the Asian country of China, now ravaging the world, appear to have caused a complete lock down of the world economy. From China, HogKong, South Korea , Japan, Italy, Spain , Iran to the United States of America, USA, many heavy Industries and businesses had been forced to close down to curb the spread of the deadly sickness. The situation was not different from Nigeria and other African countries where companies, banks and other business had been working in bits and fits. More worrisome was the temporary ban of movement from one state to the another.
Given the fact that Scientists, Medical experts and Pharmaceutical Companies including researchers had not been able to find a cure for the sickness, this may have made Corporate Organisations to come out in full force to support various governments in tackling the disease to stem the spread across the world. The government may have known that it cannot solve the problem alone that it was said to have reached out to corporate bodies including Financial Institutions for support.
This may have informed why Dangote Group of Companies heeded the call of the government to donate N200million in tackling the sickness. Recall that the Value News had published a story highlighting the effort which the Kingsley Uzoka , Group Managing Director United Bank For African, UBA,plc, a Pan African Bank, and his Management Team had made over the last for months in tackling the sickness when it became obvious that it had spread into Nigeria and other African countries.
Worried that urgent steps needed to be taken to protect its hundreds of branches in Nigeria and 20 other African Countries including the branches at the United Kingdom, UK, France and the Uited States, US, it was said to have invested millions of naira to procure non-body Contact Thermometers used in checking Temperature of people in order to identify carriers of the disease, disinfectants and other chemicals to contain the spread of the sickness and thus, protect its Staff and Customers.
As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility, The bank, according sources, was said to have provided $14 million or N5, billion, going by the current exchange rate of N380.00 to a dollar, to provide COVID 19, across the African Continent. Uzoka.
The UBA plc, GMD, and his Management Team, may have known that not many countries in the African Continent which had been affected by the sickness could adequately handle it alone because of their lean financial resources. It was not surprising why the bank come out clearly to support the many countries in the African Continent affected by the disease in tackling it before turning the African Countries into another China, Italy, South Korea, Spain Germany or the United States, US, where people are dying in their hundreds and thousands on a weekly basis .
It is on record that the bank had made a N5 billion donation through the UBA Foundation, described as another Tont Elumelu Foundation, popular, TEF, to analyse a Comprehensive pan- African response in tackling global sickness, popular, COVID 19.
A source who spoke to the Magazine was optimistic that the COVID 19 relief Fund, would provide the needed support to Nigeria, which already had about 56 confirmed cases and the 19 other African countries by supplying them with relief materials, Critical Health Care facilities such as beds , sanitizers and disinfectants and providing Financial support to government to the government.
A document made available to The Magazine gave an insight how the Management of the Foundation, intend to carry out the allocation of the COVID Relief and financial support to the affected African countries including Nigeria. It was learnt that the bank, through the Foundation, had planned to spend about $2.8 million or N1 billion to support the Lagos state government which Health analyst believe was carrying the burden with over 30 confirmed cases .
At present the over 30 Coronavirus patients in the state are being accommodated and maintained in an Isolation center provided by the government, $500 million or N.4b billion at Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, which had about 10 known cases. One of the alleged carriers of the disease at the FCT, was the almighty Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff to President MUhammadu Buhari and the suspected Head of the Cabal in the Presidency. He was said to have contacted the virus while on a visit to Germany.
Other notable figures who had contacted the sicknes, and quarantined were Bala Muhammed, governor of Bauchi state, who was said to have contacted it from the son of Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President and Presidential Candidate of the Peoples democratic Party, PDP, in the 2019 general election. The Bauchi state governor was said to have contacted the sickness after handshake with the Turaki of Adamawa son on the same flight to Lagos.
Again, the Bank was said to have also earmarked $2.8 billion to the 35 other states of the Federation to stem the spread of the sickness. This is in addition to the $4.2 million or N1.5 billion that would be spent in the 20 African countries where the pan African Bank already had established its presence.
This is in addition to the $2.8 millon or N1.5 billion that would be spent to supply free equipment and Telemedicine at several Medical centres across Africa. There are indications that the bank had concluded plans to fund a Medical centre in Lagos, with provision of beds and ICU facilities, at the Isolation centre. Unconfirmed report said the facility would be managed and operated in partnership with Heirs Holdings Healthcare Subsidiary, of Avon Medical Hospital.
The goodnews was the fact that the Bank had already provided telemedicine platform, that could give Nigerians a helping hand to have a direct free medical advice from experts in Compliance and social distancing requirements to avoid contacting the deadly sickness.
Given an insider information about the Bank support programme to Nigeria and other African countries, Tony Elumelu, founder of the popular TEF, which had produced over 10,000 Micro Small and Medium Scale, MSMS, Entrepreneurs, across the African Continent , over the last 10years and also the Group Chairman of the UBA, who could not hide his feelings declared “this is a time we must all play our part to support the government to stop the spread of the Coronavirus in the African Continent’’. He stressed that with the increasing number of the COVID 19 cases in Nigerian and other African countries, the private sector must support the various governments in containing the further spread of the global pandemic in Africa to sustain the tempo of development that had been achieved over the years.
An elated Elumelu was said to have commended the efforts that had been put in since the outbreak of the COVID 19 by the government, through Osagie Ehamire, the minister of Health to sensitise Nigerians about the deadly sickness and the provision of medical facilities at the Isolation centres in Lagos and the FCT. He was said to have assured that notwithstanding the N5 billion COVID 19 relief Fund which the pan African bank had donated to the Nigerian government and other African countries in the recent time to contain the spread of the deadly virus, it would still partner with the government in tackling the sickness as well as made make further financial contributions to the collective effort that would ensure that the “response to the pandemic is swift and effective’’.
Financial analysts believe that with the example which the Management of UBA plc had shown since the outbreak of the Coronavirus to curb the spread of the sickness in Nigerian and other African countries, the other big banks: First Bank, Zenith, Access and Guarantee Trust Bank, popular, GTB, have no option , but to support the government in tackling the sickness.
1.UBA Corporate Headquarters
2.Tony Elumelu: Group Chairman, UBAplc
3. Kingsley Uzoka: GMD, UBAplc
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