By Stephen Ubanna
There have been a flood gate of donation both within and outside the country to support the Federal government efforts in the fight to curb the spread of the Coronavirus disease, popular, COVID 19, named after the year it had emerged in the Wuhan Town of the Asian country of China.
Barely two weeks after the United Nations presented three ambulances to the Lagos state government to support the medical Campaign to stop the spread of the deadly disease in the state, regarded as the epicenter of the disease, the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, has thrown its weight to support the Nigerian government with funds and equipment to combat the disease.
The U N, agency which had launched a COVID 19 , basket fund, to assist developing countries to contain the spread of the deadly disease had not failed on the duty so far. It is not surprising why Nigeria is on the list of the benefitting Countries.
Edward Kallon, the UN, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, disclosed that the agency had secured $2 million, or N7.6 billion , going by the current central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, foreign exchange rate of N380.00 to a dollar, which he had said was mobilised within the UN Nigeria to support the government efforts in the fight against the pandemic.
Kallon, confirmed that the agency also presented a consignment of 50 ventilators and Personal Protective Equipments, PPE, and other medical supplies which had arrived the country through the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to the Nigerian government last Tuesday . The aircraft that had airlifted the items may have be granted a landing right at the airport based on a Special arrangement with the Civil Aviation Authority, CAA.
This is because of the shutdown of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport and four others in the country due to the outbreak of the COVID 19, disease last February in the country . The no flight policy of the government appear to have been made worse with the Presidential lock down of economic activities in Lagos, Ogun and the FCT, for the initial two weeks period and which had been extended for another two weeks by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra state and Vice Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the 12019 Presidential election had said that the extension was necessary because of the rising cases of victims which the Nigerian Center for Disease Control, NCDC ,had put as at Thursday, April 16, 2020, at 407 paients, across the country.
Recall that the Cikwe Ihekweazu, led NCDC, had said that there are 600 suspected COVID 19 cases across the country which are still being traced in order to quarantine them to contain further spread of the disease .The rising number of the Coronavirus cases in the country may have also attracted the attention of APM Ternal, popular, AMPT, one of the major Concessionaires at Apapa port which handles over 50 percent of the cargoes coming into the country to make a contribution of $200,000 or N76, million to support the government efforts in tackling the disease, which going by the World Health Organisation, WHO, records had hit over 210 countries . The UN, health agency had reported that 2, 092,031 victims had contacted the disease while 135, 235 had died out of the infection .
The Nigerian billionaire club may have been forced out of their hiding place to support the government COVID 19 fund , when Jack Ma, a Chinese billionaire businessman and founder of Alibaba, donated medical equipment worth billions of naira to the government to support the fight against COVID 19.
Aliko Dako, President, Dangote Group of Companies who was said to have mobilised a private sector coalition against the disease was said to have made a personal donation of N2 billion, Tony Elumelu, founder Tony Elumelu Foundation , popular, TEF, and Chairman UBA plc, a pan African Bank was also said to have donated N1 billion to the COVID 19 fund. This is in addition to the N5 billion which the pan African Bank had extended to Nigeria and 20 other African countries where it has established presence to contain the spread of the disease.
Abdulsamad Rabiu, founder BUA Group, through the BUA Foundation , made a contribution of N1 billion to the special COVID 19 fund. Rabiu, was said to have also taken a step further to provide additional equipments and medical supplies including testing kits and protective gear to nine states across the country . Other billionaire donors include Folorunsho Alakija ,Jim Ovia founder of Visafone Communications ltd and Chairman, Zenith Bank, Oba Otudeko and Femi Otedola. They were said to have made N1 billion donation each to the fund while Deji Adeleke of Pacific Holdings contributed N500 million to COVID 19 fund
. The Chinese Civil Engineering and Construction Company, CECC, which many believe,handles most of the road projects across the country including the $10 billion dual gauge rail line and which had been working underground since the outbreak of the disease in the country to support the government to contain it because of its pecuniary interest was said to have mobbilised other Chinese Companies operating in the count to donate $1.3million or N494 million worth of medical equipment and consumables to help strengthen the management of the COVID 19 cases in the country.
This may have informed why Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General NCDC, to beat his chest that the country now has the testing capacity of 3,000 persons daily. Indeed, the acquisition of the COVID 19 testing equipments may have encouraged Osagie Ehanire, minister of Health at the instance of the Katsina state born Nigerian President to expand the list of patients that could go for the testing to include those with fever and respiratory symptoms.
Aware that the post Coronavirus era may be have a telling effect on Small and Medium Scale Industries, SMES, Godwin Emefiele, governor of Central Bank appears o have prepared have prepared ahead to these category of Companies which is regarded as the engine of growth for a country’s economy. The apex Bank had made provision for a Credit relief of $136.6 million or about N52 billion to assist such businesses that are affected by the pandemic in order to bounce back to life. Those likely to benefit from the Credit facility, Emefiele had said include airline service providers, Hoteliers, Health care merchants among others.
He disclosed that with the support of the government , the CBN , will soon embark on a project that could get the banks private equity firms to finance home grown and sustainable health services that will help to reverse medical tourism out of Nigeria by offering long time financing for the entire health care value chain.
The CBN, governor, has moved a step further to promote the establishment of INFRACO plc with a combined debt and equity take-off of N15 trillion . The company is expected to focus solely on infrastructure development as the country works towards mitigating the impact of COVID- 19 on the economy. He had said that the three-year strategic response is aimed at guiding through crisis management and rebooting of the economy to save it from eminent collapse.