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Opportunities in corona for Nigeria 

The coronavirus bears a huge SWOT signboard. While many are focused on the Strengths and Weaknesses in the management of the situation by federal and state governments, as well as the Threats to citizens, others see Opportunities writ large. Search for opportunities is the essence of business so it is not surprising that business executives in Nigeria and across the world are fixated on the O in the SWOT of Coronavirus.

As we enter Day 4 of the mandatory lockdown of Lagos, Ogun and FCT, virus outbreak response is one of the headline-grabbers. On the first day of Lockdown Lagos, Ogun, FCT, Nigerians, individual and corporate, have raised N30billion approximately for various coronavirus containment efforts. It is inspirational. It is amazing.

GTBank kicked off the corporate good acts by announcing and effecting three days later its donation of a 100-bed hospital tent at the Onikan Stadium. The federal government announced N15billion, with N10billion to the Lagos State Government and N5billion to the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control. Governor Jide Sanwoolu has earned deserved plaudits for the public face of his handling of the matter with Lagos as the epicentre. Similarly, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu at the NCDC has been stellar.

Other corporates followed in donating to a fund orchestrated by the Federal Government. Donors have been generous and large-hearted. The big boys mainly from banking and oil and gas dropped a billion each. They include Femi Otedola, Abdulsamad Rabiu, Aliko Dangote, Herbert Wigwe, Segun Agbaje. Other huge donors include Mr Jim Ovia (1billion), Dr Paul Enenche (N2billion worth of items). Access Bank, GTBank, Zenith Bank all gave N1 billion each. The NNPC led a consortium of oil industry players to donate N11 billion naira. Former vice president Atiku Abubakar gave N50 million, musician Tuface Idibia gave N10 million. Former governor of Lagos Bola Tinubu gave N200 million.

Abia State gubernatorial hopeful Dr Alex Otti gave a bouquet of gifts, including a duplex as isolation hospital, in Umuahia and Aba. He has not put a figure to the bequest because he keeps responding to the identified needs following his initial donation.  Former president Olusegun Obasanjo donated a 32-room facility in Abeokuta. That can fetch at least 50 hospital beds with some executive rooms. The donations continue to come in.

It is the Nigerian Spirit in activation.

The Nigerian Spirit activates in dire situations. It comes along to do the seeming impossible. It takes on the inertia and negativity that regularly characterises our land and turns it around into action and positives. Remember the World Junior Soccer Championship Nigeria 99? We performed wonders that stunned FIFA in getting stadia ready in weeks!

The scale and speed of the donations speak to both opportunity and possibilities. It is disconcerting that donors would drop cash. Permit me to suggest from this side of the aisle that everyone should adopt the GTB model. N1billion each can build a decent hospital. Build it and donate it to Nigeria.

Otherwise, the Federal Government should deploy N30billion into chunks of N5billion to build one standard healthcare facility with comprehensive laboratory facilities in each of the six geopolitical zones. Let us assign specific tasks to the funds before auditors tell us in two years that the money went into “sundries”.

The scale and speed of the donations speak to both opportunity and possibilities. It is disconcerting that donors would drop cash. Permit me to suggest from this side of the aisle that everyone should adopt the GTB model

Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, chairs the Presidential Task Force on Covid’19. One of the five core tasks of the PTFCovid19 is to “lay a foundation for scientific and medical research to address all emerging infectious diseases”. That section of its objectives leapt at me as I read it.  Let us look elsewhere for comparison

“The federal government is open for coronavirus business, and the scramble to get some of it is on”, The New York Times reports about the situation in the USA following the passage of a $2 trillion stimulus fund.

The scramble is by companies offering to bring to the table the results of their researches into coronavirus and other infectious diseases or those with a multitude of new products that tackle the conditions that corona virus has brought on the world from various angles. The newspaper adds, “The boomlet has left the federal agencies responsible for regulating cleaning supplies, medical devices and medicines working overtime on requests to certify products for use in coronavirus response — and to clamp down on fraud.”

In other words, coronavirus would lead to new products and services from American industry. There is a stimulus fund on the back of which their firms are willing to do new things or do the old ones better. Notice that they are also battling fraud, such as the one whereby Nigeria claims it would continue spending on school feeding on schools shut because of coronavirus pandemic. The tenth wonder of the world is from Nigeria, truly.

Very few Nigerian companies are coming to the table with innovative or regular products and services. Government is not saying anything to those who have spoken about what they can do. Innoson Motors confirmed that it can retool to produce ventilators. Mum. Prof Maurice Iwu says he has capacity to produce a treatment. Mum. Under that section of its remit, Boss Mustapha’s PTFCovid19 can empanel a team to see what we can make out of this crisis. Experts have advised that we should never miss the opportunities in crisis.



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