By Tony Ogaga
These days, the deadly Coronavirus pandemic has been gathering momentum again across the globe. And in Nigeria, the authorities have raised the alarm, warning of the dangers of a second wave.
Consequently, the Nigerian government has been bracing up and the private sector is not left out. A Chinese conglomerate, Guangdong New South Group, the parent company of the Ogun Gwangdong Free Trade Zone, (OGFTZ) is already taking the initiative.
Recently, the group donated facemasks, hand gloves and malaria drugs worth N25 million to Ogun State government at a ceremony held at the Office of the Deputy Governor in the state capital, Abeokuta.
Receiving the donations, the deputy governor, Noimot Salako-Oyedele who stood in for the governor described the gesture as timely and one that would further consolidate the relationship between China and Ogun State.
Commissioner for Health, Mrs. Tomi Coker thanked New South Group. She noted: “The facemasks and gloves are the tools we use in fighting COVID-19 which helps health care workers stay safe while the anti-malarial drugs will help combat malaria.
“COVID-19 is on the rise again and that means we could have a second wave. So this is timely because our stocks are dwindling because we are moving on to other diseases even though we know COVID-19 is still around. This is going to be distributed to our health workers and the general public.”
The deputy governor said the relationship between Ogun State and China was multi-sectoral. “Ogun State is the industrial hub of Nigeria and we have a Chinese community here helping us develop our industries and we are now collaborating in other areas like health and agriculture. This will culminate in social and economic advancement for Ogun State. In the area of infrastructure, there is collaboration going on and we have the Ogun Guangdong Free Trade Zone (OGFTZ) which is providing employment for the youth and empowering our women so the collaboration will impact Ogun State positively.”
Dr Tayo Lawal, Special Adviser on Health to the state governor said the world had become a global village and the need for collaboration between countries was of utmost importance.
“No government can do it alone. Even in the developed world there are collaborations, so we are indeed very grateful that New South Group is identifying with the state,” he said.
Mr Wilson Wu, Assistant President, Guangdong New South Group said: “There is fear because of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic which has led to lockdowns. As a responsible corporate citizen, New South Group is determined to take steps to protect its host community because we are part of Ogun State; we have been here for 10 years. We had done a donation earlier in May, so today is like a second donation. COVID-19 has become serious again, especially in developing countries so we want to use this opportunity to help Ogun State control the virus. Besides, the rainy season is just over so malaria is also becoming widespread and our malaria drug is not just for treatment but also for prevention.”
Enumerating other areas of collaboration between China and Ogun State, Wu spoke about planned partnerships in the agriculture sector “so that we can have an artemisinin plantation in Ogun State and then we can manufacture our malaria drugs here as a pilot project. The donation is worth N25m which includes facemasks, gloves and the anti-malaria drug.”
He said the synergy between China and Ogun State has been mutually beneficial to both parties and this has created employment opportunities and development of infrastructure. According to him, the Ogun Guangdong Free Trade zone is one of the success stories of the partnership between China and Ogun State.
Guangdong New South Group Co. Ltd, the parent company of OGFTZ was established in 1994 and is an international investment group. Mr Wu said since 2006, the New South Group has implemented the ‘Compound Artemisinin Rapid Malaria Elimination Project,’ a project designed to eliminate the malaria parasite in The Comoros Islands, Togo and Papua New Guinea, thus saving millions of lives.