CBN, private sector to raise N120bn to tackle coronavirus

…Dangote, Elumelu, Ovia, Wigwe, Otedola, others in Funding Committee

A N120 billion funding was on Thursday announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to tackle Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The fund will be raised by the Nigerian Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 instituted by the CBN on behalf of the Bankers’ Committee and in partnership with the private sector, led by Aliko Dangote Foundation and Access Bank Plc.

CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele, who broke the news in Lagos, also announced members of the Funding Committee who are expected to, through their organisations, contribute at least N1 billion each to the designated account expected to be opened at the apex bank today.

The fund, which is expected to be raised within the next two weeks, will be deployed to procuring equipment and materials to combat the menace of COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Emefiele, who spoke to reporters in company with Access Bank Group Managing Director Herbert Wigwe said Nigeria must prepare for the worst.

He said the steering committee will be chaired by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who also chairs the Federal Government Committee on Covid-19 Control.

Other members of the committee will be announced at a later date.

The committee will be responsible for the initial funding of the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Other members of the new initiative apart from the CBN governor are: African billionaire Aliko Dangote; Access Bank Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Herbert Wigwe; Jim Ovia; Tony Elumelu; Segun Agbaje; Abdulsamad Rabiu and Femi Otedola.

According to Emefiele, each member of the committee is to ensure that their institution contribute at least N1 billion to this effort.

He said the membership of the coalition will be opened to those willing to contribute at least N1 billion to the fund.

The CBN boss explained that the coalition was created out of the urgent need to combat the unfolding COVID-19 crisis in Nigeria.

Emefiele said: “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 in the last few days began engaging Nigeria compatriot stakeholders in the private sector on how to provide support to the Federal Government in procuring equipment and materials to combat the menace of this unfortunate pandemic in Nigeria.

Emefiele said that although the number in Nigeria so far stands at 51, the apex bank was concerned that this number may rise exponentially in the next two weeks.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) put the figure at 65 last night.

In terms of fatalities, China has had deaths of 3,287, Italy 7,503, USA 1,062, Spain 4,145 and so far one in Nigeria.

He said the objectives of the coalition are to mobilise private sector thought leadership, mobilise private sector resources, increase general public awareness, education and buy-in and provide direct support to private and public healthcare’s ability to respond to the crisis.

The coalition is also expected to support government effort. In doing this, the coalition has set up four major committees comprising of steering committee to provide leadership and steer the coalition and committees in procuring all needed funding, equipment and materials for the battle against this pandemic.

There is also the operational committee which is responsible for project management, logistics, communication and advocacy.

In the committee are CBN, Aliko Dangote Foundation, Access Bank, Zenith Bank, GTBank, Stanbic IBTC, Ecobank, Fidelity Bank, Unity Bank, Nigerian Breweries Plc.

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