Nseobong Okon-Ekong and Vanessa Obioha highlight the sterling example of a couple of individuals and organisations funding relief packages to help the government combat the COVID-19 pandemic
Human kindness is often tested in times of crisis. When Ethiopia was bedevilled by the disastrous famine that claimed over one million people in the 80s, it received aid from concerned individuals across the world including the popular charity singles ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ by Band Aid and ‘We Are the World’ by USA for Africa. Both music projects spearheaded by Irish singer Bob Geldof and American entertainer and social activist Harry Belafonte respectively raised millions of dollars for the affected families in the African country.
Everytime devastation of such proportion hits nations of the world, not a few individuals rise up to the occasion, and as the world is dealing painfully with the COVID-19 strain that has left many in desolation, well-heeled individuals and corporate organisations are spreading their generosity to families affected by the pandemic.
In Nigeria, where the number of confirmed cases is steadily peaking, organisations and individuals are funding relief packages to help the government combat the pandemic as well as cater for the poor and vulnerable. The show of kindness has witnessed unprecedented help from government officials. Here are a couple of the individuals and groups making a difference with their benevolence. At this time of urgent and pressing national need some of those that have donated cash and relief materials to fight COVID-19 include the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees, Chief Olabode George, former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, GT Bank, Coscharis Group and business mogul, Chief Arthur Eze. However, the band of goodhearted men and women who have come together in a determined effort to defeat the pandemic grows bigger everyday.
Africa’s richest man and famous billionaire hardly shies away from charity each time the need arises. The wealthy industrialist has been at the forefront of relief funds since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Nigeria. First, he pledged N200 million to curb the spread of the virus through the Aliko Dangote Foundation. The Foundation later spearheaded the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (COCAVID) which is tasked with the responsibility of mobilising the private sector in creating public awareness of the virus and supporting both private and public healthcare institutions across the country. So far, over N20 billion have been raised by the COCAVID Fund.
In addition, the billionaire donated N2 billion in cash and other materials to the CACOVID Fund as well four ambulances to the Lagos State Government to support its efforts.
Joining Dangote to lead private sectors to raise funds for the pandemic is the financial institution, Access Bank. The bank pledged to provide treatment, testing and isolation centres across the country. In a statement, the bank said it would donate N1bn to facilitate the building of 1000-bed isolation centres across the six geopolitical zones of the country. Beyond the monetary contributions, the bank is also playing an active role in educating the public on the preventive measures against the virus. Recently, the Managing Director of the Bank, Mr. Herbert Wigwe was seen in a viral video on social media, educating the public on the proper ways to wash hands. The educational and awareness programme is part of the objectives of COCAVID.
THISDAY and Sahara Foundation
Foremost media organisation, THISDAY Newspapers partnered with Sahara Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of the energy conglomerate Sahara Group to build a minimum 200-bed isolation, recovery and treatment centre in Abuja. The China Civil Engineering Construction Company is transforming the iconic ‘THISDAY Dome’ in Abuja into the health facility that will be delivered to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on completion. Also, the facility will be run by health professionals and equipped with the right medical kits needed to curb the spread of the virus and treat infected patients.
The project is one of the ways the two organisations are contributing to the efforts of the Federal Government in its fight against the pandemic.
Along with other former presidents of nations and global leaders, the first president of Nigeria under the current democratic era, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is pushing for a global relief fund to fight COVID-19. They made the call in a letter signed by 92 former Presidents and Prime Ministers, along with current economic and health leaders. Some of the requests of the group include a global action to raise $8 billion emergency global health fund to prevent a second wave of coronavirus; coordinated fiscal stimuli, including a resolution by the multilateral finance organizations to waive the debt interest payments for the poorest countries, including $44billion due this year from Africa, to avoid a recession becoming a depression; $35 billion for procure of ventilators, test kits and protective equipment for health workers; and $150 billion to be provided for preventing a second wave of the disease in countries that are now struggling to come out of the first wave of the disease.
Personally, the former military ruler donated his former residence at the Presidential Hilltop, Abeokuta, Ogun State, a 32-room facility for use as an Isolation Centre for victims of the new coronavirus disease.
Following up on his pledge to donate to the private sector intervention fund for COVID-19, the billionaire Mike Adenuga through the Mike Adenuga Foundation donated N1 billion to the Federal Government and N500 million to Lagos State Governor. The founder of the telecom company, Globacom is known for his benevolence. The Foundation said the funds are being committed for the wellbeing of the entire Nigerian citizens.
Often pilloried for his sermons, the General Overseer of the Living Faith Church Worldwide (Winners Chapel) David Oyedepo donated medical equipment and relief materials to Lagos and Ogun States to boost their fight against COVID-19. The medical supplies included two well-equipped ambulances, test kits, facial masks, latex gloves making others. Also, the church provided foodstuffs to the poor and vulnerable in their community.
In the same vein, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) delivered medical kits and supplies to Lagos State Government to support its fight against COVID-19. The church donated 8,000 hand sanitizers, 8,000 surgical face masks, and 200,000 hand gloves among other relief materials. Also, the church gave Intensive Care Unit beds with ventilators to Lagos, Ogun and Plateau states.
From his private pocket, Adeboye has donated about N49million in two installments of N29million and N20million to the Osun State government to fight COVID-19, explaining that his charity must begin from home.
The chairman of United Bank for Africa (UBA) was among the first to commit funds to the fight against coronavirus. First, the bank rolled out a N5 billion fund which spread across the affected nations in Africa. The bank committed N2.5 billion to the country to be spread across the states. Elumelu on his part and a member of COCAVID, donated N1 billion to support the Federal Government’s initiatives in combating the pandemic.
Usually criticised for their lavish lifestyles and fat paychecks, the federal lawmakers in an unusual show of kindness took some measures to support the Federal Government in making lives better for Nigerians during this crisis. The senate in an uncanny move pledged to donate half of their March salaries to the Federal Government while the House of Representatives decided to forfeit their March and April salaries to the good fight against the virus. Speaker of the House of Representatives also indicated that it has instructed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to make cash grants to the 774 local government areas in the country to alleviate the suffering of the masses. Apart from the communal contribution, the lawmakers have individually extended their generosity to their constituencies and other parts of the country.
One of the top billionaires in Nigeria, Femi Otedola through his Amperion Power Distribution Limited company pledged N1 billion to the COCAVID fund which he fulfilled recently. Another altruistic Nigerian, Otedola is famous for his charitable acts towards helping individuals and agencies that require financial assistance.
Africa’s foremost businesswoman recognised as one of the continent’s billionaires is among the well-heeled individuals donating huge sums to fight the pandemic. Folorunsho Alakija and her husband donated N1 billion through their company Famfa Oil Limited. The money was to be spread across NCDC, Lagos State Government, African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases and Medical Workers on the Frontline in Lagos.
Obong Essien Edidem
His Royal Majesty, Obong Essien U. Edidem, Ntisong Ibibio III, the traditional head of Akwa Esop Ima Isong
has donated truck loads rice and packets of sanitizer to the Ibibio people of Akwa Ibom State at this trying period to alleviate the suffering of the people during this season of Coronavirus.
FrieslandCampina WAMCO Supports 100,000 Families
FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc has announced its support for over 100,000 Nigerian families with a relief package of dairy products in its commitment to join hands with the government to make a difference in the fight against COVID-19.
The company has made a donation of its top brands, Peak and Three Crowns milk, to support over 100,000 families in low-end communities and vulnerable groups who are at risk of compromising their nutritional needs, thereby reducing their immunity to diseases.
FrieslandCampina WAMCO has also made a donation of hygiene items to support healthcare professionals.