UBA donates N5bn to fight COVID-19 in Africa

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As CBN rallies Nigerian billionaires to raise N120bn

The United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) has announced a donation of over N5 billion through the UBA Foundation to support the fight against the deadly coronavirus disease in Africa

The bank said in a statement yesterday that the donation would provide significant and much needed support to Nigeria and 19 other African countries, by supplying relief materials, critical care facilities and financial support to governments.

A breakdown of the support programme showed that N1 billion ($2.8 million) would be given to Lagos State Government; N500 million ($1.4 million) to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), N1 billion ($2.8 million) to the remaining 35 states in Nigeria; and N1.5 billion ($4.2 million) to UBA’s presence in countries in Africa.

In addition, the bank said N1 billion ($2.8 million) would go to medical centres for equipment and supplies as well as for free telemedicine call centre facility.

The bank also stated that it would fund a medical centre immediately in Lagos, Nigeria, with beds for isolation and ICU facilities, managed and operated in partnership with Heirs Holdings’ healthcare subsidiary, Avon Medical Hospital.

Besides, the bank announced the provision free telemedicine platform that is physician-led, provision of direct access to medical advice to citizens in compliance with social distancing requirements.

“This is a time when we must all play our part. 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.

“We commend the efforts of governments and we are keen to partner and contribute our resources to the collective effort that will ensure the response to the pandemic is swift and effective,” said the chairman, UBA Group, Mr. Tony Elumelu.

Also the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday launched a private sector coalition to mobilise support against the COVID-19 crisis in Nigeria.

The Nigerian Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 is on behalf of the Bankers’ Committee, in partnership with the private sector led by Aliko Dangote Foundation and Access Bank.

Speaking at the launch of the initiative, the CBN governor Mr. Godwin Emefiele said the coalition planned to raise N120 billion for the acquisition of healthcare facilities and advocacy about the virus spreading across the country.

He said the objective of the coalition is 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 ability to respond to the crisis as well as support the federal government’s efforts.

“In response to the impact of the COVID-19 on the Nigerian economy, the CBN has in the last few days begun engaging Nigerian compatriots and stakeholders in the private sector on how to provide support to the Nigerian government in procuring equipment, funding and materials to combat the menace of this unfortunate pandemic in Nigeria.

“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 today.

“So far, the federal government has made strides in the fight, but, it is clear that the private sector needs to step in to support efforts being made,” said Emefiele.

He announced that four major committees -steering committee, funding committee, operational committee and the technical committee had been set up.

“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.

“The steering 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. Other members of the committee will be announced later.

“The second one is the funding committee. This committee will be responsible for the initial funding of this effort. Membership comprises the CBN, Aliko Dangote, Herbert Wigwe, Jim Ovia, Tony Elumelu, Segun Agbaje, Abdulsamad Rabiu, and Femi Otedola.

He said each member of the committee is to ensure that their institution contributes at least N1 billion to the initiativert, while new members would be allowed as long as they are willing to contribute at least N1 billion.

The target is N120 billion.

Emefiele said the operational committee comprising CBN, Aliko Dangote Foundation, Access Bank, Zenith Bank, GTBank, Stanbic IBTC, Ecobank, Fidelity Bank and Nigerian Breweries, would be responsible for project management, logistics, communication and advocacy.

“The fourth is the technical committee. This committee is responsible for gathering data about the equipment and materials needed nationwide. They will also be responsible for intellectual leadership around testing issues, treatment protocols, isolation centers, etc.

He also announced membership committee comprising said the NCDC, WHO, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, federal ministry of health and select members of the operational and funding committee.

Emefiele said coalition will be working with reputable institutions and consultants, including the Lagos State Commissioner of Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, Dr. Christian Happi and Dr. Phillip Onyebujo.

He said information gathered so far revealed that to procure all the needed equipment, material and all infrastructure needed to fight the pandemic, “over N120 billion needs to be raised.”

He said the Bankers Committee and the stakeholders would be required to step up to support this endeavour.

“We are already engaging other important stakeholders in Nigeria and abroad, such as the NNPC and players in the oil industry.

“An account will be set up at the Central Bank of Nigeria to receive both naira and foreign currency 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 a commitment to provide funding, equipment, and material as well,” he added.

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