The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is real in Nigeria with over 151 confirmed cases recorded so far in the country. But the government, banks and private sector leaders are taking steps to curb the spread of the virus and reduce impact of the pandemic on the people. The Nigerian Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 was instituted by the CBN on behalf of the Bankers’ Committee and in partnership with the private sector to raise funds to fight the scourge
Fighting and defeating Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Nigeria requires more than government efforts alone.
Private sectors, especially banks and real sector operators’support is paramount. That explains why the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) last week inaugurated the Nigerian Private Sector Coalition against COVID-19 aimed at receiving funds from banks and real sector operators to be fight the pandemic.
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 to the designated account opened at the CBN.
Many banks and real sector operators have also risen to the challenge by making cash donations, providing e-learning centres, making loans available to healthcare providers and feeding low-income earners.
The fund from the coalition is expected to be raised within the next two weeks and deployed in procuring equipment and materials needed to combat the menace of COVID-19 pandemic.
For instance, Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) and Access Bank have donated N1 billion each to the project. GTBank has aside the donation, presented a 100-bed space Intensive Care Centre for Covid-19 patients at Onikan in Lagos for Nigerians that may be infected by the disease. Access Bank has also promised to set up 1,000- bed space.
FirstBank of Nigeria Limited has also responded to the CBN call for contributions. It has donated N1 billion to the Coalition project. Beyond the bed spaces, FirstBank has focused on education and contributed to the empowering children and the youth.
The commercial banks are asking their customers to use alternate e-payment channels to ensure their safety as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the country.
The lenders are also taking measures to ensure that their staff members, customers and stakeholders are protected against the pandemic gradually spreading in the country.
To ensure the continuity of businesses and economic activities with minimal effect from the pandemic, banks have ensured that everyone visiting any of its branches takes a temperature test, makes use of hand sanitisers and maintains social distance.
Many lenders also reduced the number of staff on duty and encouraged customers to use digital channels, like Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and mobile payments.
Other real sector operators like Honeywell Flour Mills have also moved to provide their support.
On the need for accountability with secured funds, Emefiele disclosed that at the end of the project, a reputable form of Accountants will be used to render full account of how the funds were utilised as well as account for the materials donated.
There is need for telecom operators to support the COVID-19 project and the e-learning plan by donating data to make learning easy for the benefiting children.
Also, real sector operators and manufacturers need to also support by donating their products to help the most vulnerable in the society at this trying time.
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