CBN, Others Seek N120bn to Fight COVID-19

By Dipo Olowookere

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has joined forces with some big players in the private to come up with strategies to urgently raise funds to tackle the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country.

In a statement issued on Friday, Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said “information gathered so far has revealed that to procure all the needed equipment, material, and all infrastructure required to fight this pandemic, over N120 billion need to be raised.”

He said in view of this, the central bank, on behalf of the Bankers’ Committee and in partnership with the private sector led by Aliko Dangote Foundation and Access Bank, have come together to form the Nigerian Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19.

According to him, the objectives of the group are to mobilise private sector thought leadership; mobilise private sector resources; increase general public awareness, education and buy-in; provide direct support to private and public healthcare’s ability to respond to the crisis; and support government effort.

He said to achieve these goals, four major committees have been set and they are the Steering Committee, Funding Committee, Operational Committee and the Technical Committee.

Mr Emefiele explained that the Steering Committee will provide leadership and steer the coalition and committees in procuring all needed funding, equipment and materials for the battle against this pandemic.

He said this committee will be chaired by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, who currently chairs the Federal Government Committee on COVID-19. He said other members of the committee will be announced later.

The CBN chief stated that the Funding Committee will be responsible for the initial funding of the effort, with membership comprising the CBN Governor, Aliko Dangote, Herbert Wigwe, Jim Ovia, Tony Elumelu, Segun Agbaje, Abdulsamad Rabiu and Femi Otedola.

According to him, each member of the committee is to ensure that their institution contribute at least N1 billion to this effort, saying more members are allowed as long as they are willing to contribute at least N1 billion.

For the Operational Committee, it will be responsible for project management, logistics, communication and advocacy. This comprises CBN Governor, Aliko Dangote Foundation, Access Bank, Zenith Bank, GTBank, Stanbic IBTC, Ecobank, Fidelity Bank, Unity Bank and Nigerian Breweries Plc.

He said the Technical Committee will be responsible for gathering data about the equipment and materials needed nationwide. The group will also be responsible for intellectual leadership around testing issues, treatment protocols, isolation centres, etc.

Membership comprises NCDC, WHO, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Federal Ministry of Health and select members of the operational and funding committee.

Mr Emefiele said the team will work with reputable institutions and consultants including the Lagos State Commisioner of Health, Dr. Akin Abayomi, Dr Christian Happi, Dr. Phillip Onyebujo.

“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 currencies from our donors.

“The Technical Committee will be providing information about the venue where equipment and materials will be received just for those who wish to donate materials and equipment.

“They have made commitment to provide funding, equipment and material, as well.

“At the end of the process, we shall use a reputable firm of Accountants to render full account of how the funds were utilized as well as account for the materials donated,” he said.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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