By Suleiman Umaru
More facts have emerged why Muhammadu Buhari, had requested the approval of the National Assembly for a N500 billion Intervention Fund , to tackle the Wuhan town in Province of China emerged Coronavirus which had shit 203 countries, according to the World Health Organisation, WHO, including Nigeria .
This is because the united Nations, UN, had set up a Trust Fund to support low and middle income countrie that had been s hit by the disease. Only recently, the world body, issued a $2 billion humanitarian appeal for 40 developing countries that were said to have been badly hit by the pandemic.
Kristalina Gergieva, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund, IMF, said the bank could not fold its hand and watch the world economy being destroyed by the virus as it has made available $50 billion at the instance of G-20 Finance ministers and the governors of the Central Banks to respond to the health challenge in 80 low and middle income countries across the world.
The Katsina born Nigerian President may not have wanted Nigeria to lose out from benefitting from the IMF fund at this trying and difficult time. There is no gain saying the fact that Ghana, Egypt, Morocco , South African and other African countries had set up Special Coronavirus Intervention Fund to contain the spread of the disease in order to benefit from the IMF largesse.
But the world financial body appears to devised a strategy to ensure that only countries that deserve to benefit from the $50 billion that had been made available to address the disease got it by launching a Tracker of Policies initiated by various governments across the world in tackling the COVID 19.
The Bank had revealed that since the outbreak of the deadly disease, Investors had removed $83 billion from emerging markets , being the largest capital outflow in recorded history. It is not surprising why Georgieva, the IMF, Managing Director had said that the bank has become more concerned about the low and middle income countries in debt distress.
She had said at its recent meeting that the bank, had made all the necessary arrangement to deploy all its $1 trillion lending Capacity to support the 80 low and middle income countries which had been hit by the disease in order to improve their health care system. The IMF boss disclosed that several countries, had asked the world Financial Institution to make a Special Drawing Right, SDR, allocation as was done during the last global financial crisis.
Given the damage that had had been caused the world economy by the disease, Georgieva, the IMF , Managing Director , said the bank is working closely with the world Bank and other International Financial Institutions across the world to provide a strong and Coordinated response to the crisis.
This is may have informed why the President is had stepped up the government anti-Coronavirus response in the last two months. The N500 COVID 19 Intervention Fund is one of such urgent measures that had been taken by the government to convince the IMF , officials that the country is not sitting idle and watch the COVID 19 scourge destroy the economy.
As a prelude to getting the approval of the National Assembly on the N500 billion COVID 19 Crisis, expected to be sourced from theS various government special Accounts and grants from Multilateral Financial Institutions, the Katsina born Nigerian President had dispatched Hajia Zainab Ahmed, minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to the National Assembly leadership to brief the Principal officers about the N500 billion demand , which had been forwarded as an Executive bill in order to facilitate its immediate approval.
It was a bold initiative to have been to taken by the President to soften the ground for the approval of the Executive bill by the Lawmakers. Hajia Ahmed was said to have held a closed door meeting with the National Assembly leadership comprising of of Ahnad Lawan, the Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, a Lawyer and Deputy Senate President, Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker , Hose of Representatives and Idris Wase, the Deputy Speaker of the House.
The ministerial meeting with the National Assembly Leadership, according to Ola Awoniyi, the Special Adviser to Lawan, the Senate President was a follow up to a recent meeting that had been held between the National Assembly Principal officers and the Presidential Committee on COVID 19, under the Chairmanship of Boss Mustapha, the secretary to the Federal government.
The Committee members may have prepared the mind of the Lawmakers that the Committee would need at least N500 billion to be able to contain the spread of the deadly disease in the country. The Committee members may have informed the National Assembly Leadership that the president would an Executive Bill to them for approval in respect of the financial demand to curb the spread of the disease in the country. Lawan, the Senate President may have given his words that they will consider any proposal that might be sent to them for approval by the President in order to contain the COVID 19, Crisis.
That may have gladdened the heart of the minister to report back to the President her discussion with the National Assembly leadership on the matter. As at Sunday, April 5, 2020, no fewer than 224 persons , according to officials of the Nigerian Center for disease Control. NCDC, had been infested by the disease which had claimed the lives of four victims.
Hajia Ahmed, the minister of Finance , Budget and National Planning had said that the COVID 19, N500 billion Intervention Fund, would be used to improve the country’s Health facilities in the state that had been affected by the disease including supporting such states with additional fund to curb further spread of the disease.
The minster also said that part of the N50 billion COVID Intervention Fund being demanded by the President would be spent to take care of the public programmes currently being undertaken by the National Directorate of Employment, NDE, an agency under the ministry of Labour and Productivity.
The Chinese government may have known that the country, which is one of its major trading partners in the African Continent lack the medical expertise and the facilities to adequately handle the COVID 19 Crisis, that it had volunteered to send some of its medical personnel to assist the country.
Many believe that the Chinese government may have opted to assist Nigeria in this trying and difficult times to protect its investment and maintain its STRONG hold on the country’s economy. Note that the state owned Company , Chinese Civil Engineering and Construction Company, CECC, are handling several multi-million projects in the country ranging construction of roads in different parts of the country to the building of the $10 billion standard dual gauge rail line in the country. Note that the loan for the Construction of the multi- billion US dollar standard dual gauge rail line was provided by the China Development Bank.
Given the strong hold of the Chinese on the country’s economy , the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, have made it clear to Osagie Ehanire, the minister of Health , that they are not ready to welcome the Chinese medical Team to the country despite the fact that the minister of Health at the instance of the President may have given the nod to the Chinese Team of medical experts : Doctors, nurses and those with sundry expertise to come in order to assist the country in tackling the COVID19, disease.
Aliyu Sokomba, the President of the Association had asked the minister of Health to shelve the plan of inviting the Chinese Medical Team for now to avoid collapsing the nation’s health sector. Sokomba enjoined the him to engage all key relevant Nigerian Medical experts, who are all over the University Teaching Hospitals across the country , including NARD to review the nation’s health system.
He would want the health minister to” present the full intent and purpose of invitation of the Chinese Medical Team into the country for full evaluation, Cost – Benefit analysis in order to reach a consensus for the next option”.
The government may not likely bow to NARD pressure to stop the Chinese Medical experts from coming to the country at this critical time that the number of Corovirus victims are on the increase on a daily basis because the deal had already been signed at no cost to the country.