Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has announced that the CBN, on behalf of the Bankers' Committee, and in partnership with the private sector have come together to form the Nigerian Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19.
Under the plan, it was agreed that banks would contribute monies at four levels.
UBA, First Bank, Zenith Bank, Access Bank and Guaranty Trust Bank would each donate N500 million whilst banks such as Fidelity Bank, Ecobank, FCMB, Sterling Bank, Union Bank and Stanbic Bank were expected to donate N250 million each.
Those in the category of banks to donate N100million each include Citibank Nigeria, Standard Chartered Bank, Unity Bank, Wema Bank, Heritage Bank, keystone Bank, Polaris, Providus, SunTrust, Jaiz, Coronation, Nova, FBNQuest, FSDH Merchant Bank and Rand Merchant Bank.
In the category of N50million are the newly licensed banks such as Globus Bank, TAJBANK and Titan Trust Bank.
By this arrangement, members of the banks would have donated an approximate N5.65bilion war chest, towards efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
This whopping amount excludes contributions from the CBN and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC).
Commenting on the development, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Lancelot Ventures Limited and Director, BOC Gases Nigeria Plc, Mr. Adebayo Adeleke, said, "It is a good measure. All should do whatever is necessary to combat the pandemic. Our collective survival is under threat." An analyst, who craved for anonymity, commended the initiative by the CBN and the banks. According to him, this a major corporate social responsibility that every responsible company operating in the country should be involved in at this time when there is an obvious threat to the collective existence of every citizen, adding that all hands must be on desk to arrest the situation.
Whilst many have applauded the move, others differ in opinion.
National Coordinator of United Shareholders Front (USF), Mr. Gbenga Idowu, and Nornah Awoh, an activist shareholder said the private sector operators should have been allowed to do something on their own like Guaranty Trust Bank Plc which donated a 110-bed capacity hospital to the Lagos State Government to tackle the challenge.
However, providing clarifications, Emefiele said, "the coalition was created out of the urgent need to combat the unfolding COVID-19 crisis in the country in view of the rate at which the virus was spreading. Although the Federal Government has made giant strides in the fight, it is clear that the private sector needs to step in and support efforts already made".
According to him, the objectives of the coalition are to: mobilse private sector thought leadership and resources, increase general public awareness, education and buy-in, provide direct support to private and public healthcare providers' ability to respond to the crisis and support government effort. Consequently, the coalition has set up four major committees comprising of a steering committee to provide leadership and steer the coalition and committees in procuring all needed funding, equipment and materials for the battle against the pandemic.
The 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 are expected to be announced later.