As the private sector-led Coalition Against Covid-19 (CACOVID) winds down, President Muhammadu Buhari has commended the initiative of private sector operators, saying the contributions he has received from the Coalition so far has elevated his status among other Presidents of the world.
The President, who spoke in Abuja while receiving a parting donation of N12 billion security equipment for the Military and the Nigeria Police from the leadership of CACOVID said his government had received so much support from the private sector in addressing social ills in the country.
Items handed over to the President by the Coalition members included 100 Tata 14 ton Troop carriers, 100 Tata 12 ton Troop carriers, 86 Toyota pick-up trucks, 64 Nissan Navara pick-up trucks with their spare parts, 13,000 helmets as well as 13,000 bullet proof vests.
It would be recalled that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had also rated CACOVID as the third largest contributor in the world to the fight against Covid-19 virus, the outbreak of which in 2020 brought the world to its knees.
An excited President Buhari while thanking the CACOVID on behalf of the Military and the Police said: “Today is indeed a very happy day for all Nigerians, and I can happily say that I am the envy of many Presidents in the world. I am exceedingly honoured to be the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, at this time.
“I am gratified to have the honour of leading a country whose private sector willingly galvanises itself to raise funds to enthusiastically support government in resolving social ills. I am proud to say that there is nowhere in the entire world, except in Nigeria, where the private sector has voluntarily come together to assist government efforts.
“Thank you for supporting our Administration’s efforts to strengthen the Police and Military as we face the security challenges that all modern nations face”, Buhari added, noting that such a patriotic gesture was proof that nationalistic determination is still alive in Nigeria, in the face of enormous challenges pervading the world and the country.
Speaking while handing over the items, Chairman of the Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF), Aliko Dangote, a foremost industrialist who initiated the Coalition with the Group Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, explained that the Coalition was winding down with the latest donation.
He listed other business leaders brought together under CACOVID to include Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija, Tony Elumelu, Jim Ovia, Segun Agbaje, Abdulsamad Rabiu, Femi Otedola, Adesola Adedotun, Karl Toriola, Haresh Aswani, Raj Gupta, and John Coumantaros, all of who contributed several billions of Naira each and supported the CACOVID effort with advocacy. In all, according to him, over 100 organisations and private individuals contributed to CACOVID.
Mr. Dangote gave reason for the donation saying that as the worst of the Covid crisis waned in Nigeria, the security situation deteriorated, partly due to economic disruptions caused by the shutdown of the global and national economy.
Therefore, to provide additional response support to the Government, the ADF Chairman said CACOVID embarked on another fundraising effort, which enabled it to purchase the items for the Police and the Military.
Recalling the birth of CACOVID, Dangote explained that the Coalition as a timely response to the outbreak of the deadly covid-19 virus was borne out of the previous experience with Ebola elsewhere in West Africa, which made him to recognise the fact that the potential crisis looming was very serious
“And so together with Herbert Wigwe, we set up CACOVID and drafted our peers in the private sector to join our efforts. The CBN Governor joined our efforts very early and chaired the group. We knew straight away that we had a responsibility to act and support the efforts of Government as quickly as possible to avert disaster”, Dangote noted.
Dangote continued; “In addition to the leadership team, we set up a technical committee to guide our purchasing decisions, which was critical, given the prevailing confusion around testing and treatment options, and the lack of successful models anywhere in the world. Members of that committee included leading Nigerian scientists and public health professionals, the DG of NCDC, DG of the Presidential Task force on Covid-19, representatives of WHO, BMGF and the UN.
“In addition, a core team of select staff members from our organisations manned the initiative’s operations Centre 7 days a week for several months planning, coordinating, and delivering on the various activities of the coalition.”
While enumerating all the supports the Coalition has offered the nation in the last two years, Dangote disclosed that the group mobilised its members and raised N62 billion to provide 39 fully kitted isolation centers in all 36 States and FCT; Testing Supplies for almost 1 million tests; Food for 10 million vulnerable individuals across the country; Oxygen and tanks to the most affected states; Support for vaccines delivery and distribution across the Nation; Support to re-open the economy (Travel Portal, IT, airport scanners/PPE and other support) with communications and advocacy campaigns around prevention and against disinformation.
According to Dangote, the donation marks the end of the CACOVID initiative “as we wind down what has been deemed an example of patriotism, solidarity and efficiency in terms of partnership between the public and private sectors. This is a lesson in the power of collaboration for a worthy cause.
“Thank you to my partners on this CACOVID journey. I would like to especially thank the Presidential Covid-19 team led by SGF Mr. Boss Mustapha for their excellent collaboration. My gratitude goes to Mr. President for your unwavering support and that of your entire Government.”
Also speaking on the activities of CACOVID, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Central Bank Governor, who led the CACOVID Committee told the President he was proud to be part of the Coalition that supported government in its fight against insecurity.
“I am immensely gratified by what CACOVID has achieved in its few years of existence. The nationalist and patriotic drive of my colleagues therein is unmatched anywhere in the world and must be applauded.
The Coalition is a good example of what Nigeria must become: a nation of patriotic solidarity of individuals and corporations, and effective collaboration of the public and private sectors,” he said.