By Lydia Ngwakwe
Lagos, March 26, 2020
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on behalf of the Bankers’ Committee, on Thursday in Lagos said it had formed the Nigerian Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, told newsmen that the coalition was in partnership with the private sector, led by Aliko Dangote Foundation and Access Bank.
According to him, 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 to date.
“So far, the Federal Government has made giant strides in the fight, but it is clear that the private sector needs to step in and support efforts already being made,” he said.
The apex bank governor said that the objectives of the coalition were to mobilise private sector thought leadership, private sector resources and increase general public awareness.
He said the alliance would educate and buy-in, provide direct support to private and public health care’s ability to respond to the crisis and support government efforts.
Emefiele said that four major Committees had been set up to carry out the tasks.
He said there would be a Steering Committee to provide leadership and steer the coalition and committees in procuring all needed funding, equipment and materials for the battle against the pandemic.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, who currently chairs the Federal Government Committee on COVID-19, would chair the steering committee.
Emefiele, however, explained that other members of the committee would be announced later.
NAN also reports that the Funding Committee members are the CBN Governor, Aliko Dangote, Herbert Wigwe, Jim Ovia, Tony Elumelu, Segun Agbaje, Abdulsamad Rabiu and Femi Otedola.
Emefiele said the members would be responsible for the initial funding of the effort, adding that more members would be allowed in, as long as they were willing to contribute at least N1billion.
He said the Operational Committee would be responsible for project management, logistics, communication and advocacy.
NAN gathered that the members were comprised of Emefiele, Aliko Dangote Foundation, Access Bank, Zenith Bank, GT Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Ecobank, Fidelity Bank, Unity Bank and Nigerian Breweries Plc.
Emefiele explained that the Technical Committee would be responsible for gathering data about the equipment and materials needed nationwide.
He said that they would also be responsible for intellectual leadership around testing issues, treatment protocols, isolation centers, among others.
According to him, the members are the NCDC, WHO, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Federal Ministry of Health and select members of the operational and funding committee.
He stated that the committee would be working with reputable institutions and consultants, including the Lagos State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Akin Abayomi, Dr Christian Happi as well as Dr Phillip Onyebujo.
Emefiele said that the committee would need a lot of money to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Information gathered so far has revealed that to procure all needed equipment, material, and all infrastructure needed to fight this pandemic, over N120billion need to be raised.
“The Bankers Committee and these important stakeholders will be required to step up to support this endeavor.
“We are already engaging other important stakeholders in Nigeria and abroad, such as the NNPC and players in oil industry.
“An account will be set up at the Central Bank of Nigeria to receive both Naira and foreign currency from our donors,” he said.
He said the Technical Committee would be providing information about the venue where equipment and materials would be received just for those who wish to donate materials and equipment.
Emefiele urged Nigerians to play a role in the fight against the pandemic, adding that the fight requires man-hour time, services and products; not just money.