Boss Picks

COVID-19: Nigerian Billionaires Lead Rescue Mission

...As Confirmed Cases Hit 81

By Eric Elezuo
This may not be the best of times for the world in general and Nigeria in particular as the Coronavirus disease codenamed COVID-19 continues its rampaging spread across the length and breath of the universe, hitting Nigeria as of 11:59pm Thursday night with 81 confirmed positive cases.
The country, which had 70 confirmed positive cases late Thursday added 11 more cases with, as expected the highest chunk coming from Lagos in the ratio of 8:2:1 covering Lagos, Enugu and Edo respectively.
Consequently, good spirited countrymen have rallied round the Federal Government to provide succour in terms of cash and materials in the fight to contain the spread of the disease whose influence is expected to rise in the coming days.
Leading the onslaught, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government has released a N5 billion (about $13 million) special intervention fund to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC),
which has been at the forefront of the coronavirus pandemic, collating numbers and responding to suspected cases of the virus. It also released N10 billion to the Lagos State government, which is the hardest hit with about 52 confirmed positive cases.
Still working under the Federal Government, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has also doled out N11 billion to counter the spread of the virus, which has practically brought superpower nations like the United States of America (USA), Italy and others to their knees.
With the right the Buhari administration took, privileged Nigerians have stepped up their games, doling out billions of naira to help curtail and eventual stop the spread of the pandemic. The donations were not limited to individuals but also corporate and religious organisations in either cash or materials as follows:
UNITED BANK FOR AFRICA (UBA)
The United Bank for Africa (UBA) announced a donation of N5 billion (about $13 million) to provide beds for isolation centers, intensive care unit facilities and direct access to medical advice to up to 450,000 citizens every day. In his statement while making the donation, the chairman of the bank, Mr. Tony Elumelu said
“This global pandemic must bring citizens, governments and business leaders together, and quickly. As we see a rapidly increasing number of cases of the coronavirus in Nigeria and Africa, the private sector has to work hand in hand with various governments, in stemming the spread of the global pandemic.”
Elumelu’s donation however, cuts across several African countries.
In a release by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari applauded generous Nigerians including FEMI OTEDOLA, ABDULSAMAD RABIU, HERBERT WIGWE, SEGUN AGBAJE and ALIKO DANGOTE, who contributed N1 billion (about $2.7 million) each to support the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.
In addition, Wigwe’s Access Bank Plc, one of Nigeria’s biggest lender by assets, is teaming up with Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote to provide treatment and isolation centers across the country.
The facilities, which will be located across the country with a total of 1,000 beds, will be ready within weeks, and will have Chinese experts and serve as testing, isolation, treatment and training centers.
Also, the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) led by Pastor Enoch Adeboye, has donated a complete facility comprising test kits, ventilators and many more.

In the same vein, Union Bank, backed by Atlas Mara, has also partnered with 54gene, a U.S.-based genetic research company, using a $500,000 funding facility to increase COVID-19 testing capacity in Nigeria to 1,000 daily. 54gene launched the testing support fund with $150,000 to secure instruments and protective equipment needed to keep health-care workers safe. The company aims to increase rate of testing in Nigeria to 5,000 tests daily working with other partners.

Other donors include Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who doled out an initial N50 million while calling on the government to pay Nigerians stipend to keep body and soul together while the lockdown in effect lasted, and hip hop artist, Tuface Idibia, who gave N10 million.

Pastor Paul Enenche of the Dunamis International Gospel Centre,So  donated some safety items and medical equipment to the Primary Health Care Centre, Lugbe, FCT, to support efforts to check the spread of the coronavirus scourge.

So far, Nigeria has recorded 81 cases of the virus, including one death and three discharges. There are fears that the spread could become uncontrollable in the coming days as going by the ministry of Health’s statement that less than 500 people have been tested and the government is tracing 4,370 persons that have made some contact with confirmed virus cases.

Earlier Chinese billionaire industrialist, Jack Ma, had sent millions of relief materials to African countries of which Nigeria got a deserved share.

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