The SGF, other Distinguished ladies and Gentlemen. Good morning. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to participate in the launch of the THISDAY Dome COVID -19 Testing, Tracing & Treatment Center in our capital city. I would like to commend the Management of THISDAY Media Group, and their partners, for putting together the team that set up this magnificent care centre, which encompasses testing, tracing and treatment to help in boosting Nigeria’s capacity to adequately contain the spread of COVID-19 in the Federal Capital Territory and beyond.
As we are all aware since the onset of COVID-19 in December 2019, the Buhari Administration has taken all necessary measures to contain the spread. COVID – 19 has had an unprecedented effect on the global economy, impacting all nations big and small. Institutions like the IMF have pronounced that the effect on the global economy will be akin to the slowdown experienced during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Global growth is expected to contract to – 3 percent in 2020, down from a positive growth rate of 2.9 percent in 2019 which is effectively a 6% contraction. In Nigeria, our economy is exposed to triple shocks – a supply shock, a demand shock and a revenue shock. Permit me to state that we are currently faced with a public health and economic crisis of unprecedented proportions, driven primarily by the 55 percent drop in crude oil prices between January and May 2020. This unparalleled shock requires that the Federal and State governments along with the organized private sector, work together to address these challenges in order to preserve lives and restore economic activity and reset the economy of our dear country.
In a bid to cushion the effects of COVID-19 on the Nigerian economy, the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) has implemented several initiatives such as the N50b intervention facility for small and medium scale enterprises affected by COVID-19; in addition to the N1 trillion facility for firms operating in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors. We are also working with financial institutions to enable the continuous flow of credit to viable businesses, while putting in place provisions such as moratoriums and restructuring of existing loans under CBN intervention funds, that have been provided to businesses. These measures are intended to cushion the effects of
the slowdown in economic activity on businesses, while putting them in better stead to help resuscitate economic activity in the country.
I wish to acknowledge however, that our ability to restore the growth of our economy is dependent on how we address the public health crisis brought on by COVID-19. It is in realization of this fact that the CBN recently launched a N100bn healthcare intervention fund. Practitioners in the Pharmaceutical and health care sectors will be able to access finance at single digit rate through this fund.
Our objective is to improve the capacity of our health system to address emerging public health challenges.
Furthermore, in order to encourage greater research and development in Nigeria of drugs and vaccines that would help prevent the spread of the virus, the CBN is developing a framework under which grants and long term facilities will be provided to researchers, science institutions and biotechnology firms to develop the Nigerian Vaccine. Needless to state that if we are to wait for foreign countries to develop their own vaccines, we will be the last in the queue to receive curative remedies for our teeming population. The Central Bank of Nigeria today challenges Nigerian scientists at home and in the diaspora to go back to their laboratories and develop a Nigerian vaccine.
Once validated by the Health Authorities, the CBN will step in and do the needful for the sake of over 200 million Nigerians now confronted by COVID-19.
Our inability to accurately predict the extent to which the corona virus could spread, and how long it would last, requires that we build sufficient capacity within our health system in order to contain the spread of the virus, state by state, city by city and preserve the lives of vulnerable Nigerians. This requires that we all come together to support the work of the Presidential Task Force in its determination to save lives and stem the pandemic. It is in this regard that I would like to commend the Nigerian private sector, who have come together under the Coalition against COVID-19 (CA -COVID) to support the government, by raising funds to procure needed Isolation Centres, medical equipment, etc. So far, the CA-COVID-19 has raised up to N27 Billion to fund these initiatives. These donations are being used to build well equipped isolation centres across the 36 states of the federation. The THISDAY Dome Testing, Tracing and Treatment Centre being launched today represents a part of the support being provided by the CA – COVID alliance. These measures will result in the addition of close to 4,000 hospital beds across the country and will serve as a significant boost towards our efforts at containing the spread of COVID-19. So, CACOVID has equipped and handed over Isolation Centres in Rivers, Enugu, Kwara, Ondo, and Borno States. It is expected that all other Isolation Centres will be handed over in other States of the country by May 23, 2020.
In a bid to compliment the efforts of the government in providing palliatives to those affected by the containment measures put in place to prevent the spread of the virus, CA-COVID is also providing in-kind assistance in the form of food items to indigent Nigerians across the 36 states of the federation. These efforts are noteworthy as members of the Nigerian private sector have stood up to be counted when it mattered most to our dear country.
I would like to once again thank members of the CA – COVID alliance for their commitment in meeting the needs of vulnerable Nigerians, especially in these extraordinary times.
I would like to conclude my remarks by thanking President Muhammadu Buhari, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 ably led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, the Federal Ministry of Health led by Dr Osagie Ehanire and Senator Olurunnimbe Mamora, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, and our health workers, who are all in the frontline, working day and night to help prevent the spread of the virus.
I must also salute the work of the Minister of The Federal Capital Territory Administration, Mallam Muhammad Musa Bello, the Minister of State, Dr Ramatu Tijani Aliyu for effective leadership in containing COVID-19 in Abuja. Your efforts are indeed commendable, and I can assure that the Central Bank of Nigeria will continue to work with you on solutions that can help our nation address this public health challenge.
I thank you for your attention.
Godwin I. Emefiele