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Pandemic: The private sector role

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By Princewill Ekwujuru

As governments across the globe imposed restrictions on the people, which has affected businesses, to halt the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, consumer-led economic growth is being encumbered; and the growing crisis has left “booming” economies in a state of panic.

Global value supply chains have been affected, and all the international economic bodies are revising global economic growth rates downward.

Countries are consistently putting measures in place to curb the spread of the virus. Borders have been shut down, trades and movements are being restricted, political and sporting activities are being suspended, and businesses are closing down operations.

In Nigeria, the Federal Government established a Presidential Task Force to ensure containment of the deadly virus. The measure was inevitable as the COVID-19 pandemic had affected the mainstay of the economy, owing to the fact that oil revenue funds over 70% of our national budget.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: IBEDC pledges not to disconnect supply from non- paying customer

When a country’s primary stream of revenue is cut short, it is apparent that the prosperity of the average man on the street takes a plunge. The consequences of this situation are food shortages, price hikes, under-nutrition and mass starvation.

Government efforts towards the fight of COVID-19 are highly laudable. However, government efforts  alone cannot tackle this crisis. It requires a collaborative effort from both the public and private sectors. It is a bit comforting that some organisations have stepped up to take up the challenge to cushion the social-economic impact, concerning the well-being of the population.

We have seen laudable gestures from the private sector, leading Nigeria’s charge against COVID-19, partnering with government to build make-shift isolation facilities, supplying medical equipment, donating relief materials, critical care facilities, and financial support.

In the latest development, people are beginning to complain of hunger as the Federal Government has, as part of measures to contain and curtail further spread of the deadly virus, directed that movement be restricted in what is now known as lock-down. Seeing the economic hardship facing many people as a result of the necessary public health restrictions on movement, Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc (FMN), in partnership with relevant government authorities, has commenced donations across the country in fulfilment of its purpose of “Feeding the Nation, Everyday”.

The organised private sector OPS’ response under the aegis of the Coalition Against Coronavirus (CACOVID), include pulling funds together to tackle the scourge. Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc have also donated the sum of N1 billion to this purse to help Nigeria tackle the pandemic in a concerted private-sector approach and another N1 billion in food in food relief materials and medical equipment. These are intended to provide immediate support to the most affected parts of the country by providing cash, food products and medical supplies to front line medical and emergency responders across the country.

According to the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of FMN, Paul Gbededo, “These are trying times, and our thoughts are with all Nigerians. We are determined to do whatever we can to help in the face of these challenges, especially in the most vulnerable communities. I commend the efforts of the government for the initiatives implemented to slow the pace of the outbreak so far. Private sector organisations and governments at all levels must continue to collaborate in a bid to quickly end the pandemic in Nigeria, across Africa and indeed the world.”

Prompted by the humanitarian crisis, the OPS in the country has shown commitment to raising the needed N120 billion to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 on the economy. It has become expedient for more organisations, companies, and private entities to complement the on-going life-saving aid and supplies efforts to combat the novel coronavirus.

This trying time calls for unity of purpose and concerted efforts by all well-meaning Nigerians to come together as a people to fight the scourge of the COVID-19 virus. With continued collaboration, Nigerians can stop the spread of the deadly virus.

Vanguard

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