A new front against the ravaging Ebola disease has been opened with corporate Nigeria leading the charge.
While the efforts of international bodies such as the USAID and European Commission to tackle the disease have been in the news, the actions of some of Nigerian leading companies which have been largely under the radar are no less impressive.
Seplat Petroleum Development Company plc, a leading indigenous independent oil and gas firm, donated N30 million to the management of First Consultants Hospital in recognition of what Chioma Nwachuku, general manager, external affairs at Seplat, said were “great sacrifices that the unfortunate outbreak has brought upon First Consultants Medical Centre, Lagos,” the hospital where the disease was first handled in Nigeria.
“Due largely to the professionalism they displayed in handling this difficult case, the nation has managed to keep the spread of the disease reasonably under control, however, at great cost in human and material assets to the hospital,” Nwachukwu said.
Speaking during another occasion where Seplat also donated N20 million to the Lagos State government, Nwachuku said Seplat “appreciates the prompt setting up of the Lagos Isolation Centre and the pivotal role it has played in curtailing the spread of the disease.”
The event, which held at the Lagos State Ministry of Health, also had Moses Onuwe, general manager, human resources and corporate services, Seplat; Wale Hamed, Lagos State commissioner for special duties, and Jide Idris, Lagos State commissioner for health, in attendance.
The potential negative impact of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) on economic activity in Lagos, and Nigeria is huge if not stopped in its tracks. With a population of over 20 million, Nigeria’s growth is strongly dependent on the performance of Lagos, which makes up 20 percent of Nigerian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 40 percent of non-oil GDP.
Economic activity in Lagos witnessed a sharp slowdown in August, spurred by the delayed reaction to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Being cosmopolitan and a travel hub, Lagos is vulnerable to international sentiment, say analysts.
Airline flight suspensions and company travel restrictions also hit the city’s services sector as occupancy in five-star hotels in Nigeria fell to 30 percent in the month.
“Spirits, lagers and malts consumption are badly hit by the Ebola impact. Traffic to bars is down sharply and ceremonies have been impacted. The initial reaction was muted but is now becoming profound,” said Bismarck Rewane, CEO, Financial Derivatives Company (FDC), in a September 3 presentation.
According to Rewane, many multinationals have suspended non-essential travels within, to and from West Africa including Nigeria due to the Ebola outbreak, as “the regional air traffic which accounts for approximately 20 percent of total passenger traffic is evaporating. Only five West African countries are affected but they are in the middle.”
Outbound traffic out of Nigeria to Europe, Asia and the US is at 90 percent, while inbound back of the cabin is at 70 percent to 80 percent.
Analysts say this is why it is imperative to stop the EVD spread in its tracks which the actions of the Nigerian corporate is helping to achieve.
Total, comprising the downstream and upstream branches, donated five brand new Ford pick-up vans and electronic fuelling cards to the Ebola Emergency Operation Centre, Yaba, Lagos.
Shell donated an ambulance while a statement from the minister of health indicated that the Dangote Foundation contributed N152 million to support the efforts of the Federal Government as they battle to contain the epidemic.
Tony Elumelu, chairman, Heirs Holding and UBA, donated N50 million while the “ANAP Foundation founded by Atedo Peterside informed the minister of health that the foundation would be supporting affected private hospitals to the tune of N100,000 per bed space.
He also disclosed to the minister that the First Consultant Hospital in Lagos where the index case was managed would be the first beneficiary and that the hospital would receive N4 million since its bed capacity is forty.
Telecoms giant, MTN has not been left out.
Reaching out through its MTN Foundation’s Community Support Project, the telecoms company donated personal protective equipment to the Lagos State government. Commenting on the donation, chairman of MTN, Pascal Dozie said: “MTN recognises the importance of collective effort and the role of the private sector in containing the spread and the impact of the disease and we take very seriously, our responsibility to provide a service that is essential in a period of national emergency as we have found ourselves.”
Oando, on the other hand, has launched, through its Oando Foundation, an Ebola Education Support Fund for Nigerian children who lost one or both of their parents to the deadly EVD and require financial support to continue their education.
Explaining their rationale, Tokunboh Durosaro, director of the foundation, said “Oando Foundation knew what the loss of a parent or both parents to EVD could cause to the future of a child.”
GRAPRO lent support to Ebola Eradication Campaign with the launch of a public awareness campaign in key states of the federation using its LED billboard screens, static large format platforms and a comprehensive brochure.
As a reader commented on a blog post recently; “if money could kill Ebola, Nigerian companies would have eradicated it by now.”