The Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID-19), a private sector-led initiative against the novel coronavirus pandemic, says it will distribute food palliatives to about 1.7 million households in Nigeria.
This is coming after the Coalition said it was willing to spend more than N21 billion in providing isolation centres in six geo-political zones of the country, testing kits, palliatives, enlightenment campaign and other medical and non-medical supports to complement government efforts aimed at containing the pandemic.
CACOVID-19 is led by Alhaji Aliko Dangote through his Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) and Herbert Wigwe of Access Bank. It is also backed by Zenith Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), among others.
Speaking during a briefing with newsmen in Lagos, Chief Executive Officer, Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) Zouera Youssoufou, said CACOVID-19 has set its sights on increasing Nigeria’s testing capacity, setting up 6 isolation centres and rolling out food palliatives to about 1.7 million households.
Youssoufou revealed that the coalition has ordered about 250,000 testing kits to achieve its goal to test a million Nigerians, adding that it has conducted about 6,000 tests since the beginning of the outbreak.
“The shipment of the testing kits comes in every ten days on a UNICEF plane that literally flies them into Abuja… that is when the dispatch happens. Specifically, we have 6 Roche machines in Nigeria, 4 in Abuja, 2 in Lagos and these machines are capable of testing 960 tests at a time in 3-4 hours,” Youssoufou explained.
“Also, we have set up 6 isolation centres situated in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano, Enugu, Abuja and Maiduguri. Some of them are ready to be commissioned, while others are in the process; but in the next two weeks, all the six centres of phase one will be ready to be rolled out. Phase 2 is another 26 and Phase 3 is the remaining 11 states.”
According to her, the coalition decided to do initiate a food distribution palliative programme aimed at 1.7 million families, saying that the food will be distributed to the families over the next month.
Corroborating Youssoufou, Access CEO Herbert Wigwe explained that CACOVID-19 decided to break down its activities into different states in order to have participatory institutions handling each particular state.
“The food is all packaged as we are rolling out 10kg bag of rice, 5kg bag of garri, 2 cartons of noodles, 3-5kg of sugar, 1kg bag of salt, pasta, all heavily branded with CACOVID, which basically meets the World Food Programme minimum which is about 20-22kg. So, what we are also doing is to get food right to the people who are at the bottom of the pyramid”, Wigwe stated.
For his part, Managing Director, MTN Nigeria, Ferdinand Moolman, urged organisations to join in the fight against the pandemic, noting that the world is collectively facing the same challenge.
“What we are facing is unprecedented in our lifetime as it touches everyone. We have never experienced this at all as we are facing a challenge on how this should be dealt with. We need to stand together as this can create faster results and so, as an industry player in the private sector, we could not stand on the sidelines but we had to join forces to fight this pandemic”, Moolman said.