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Friday, 15 May 2020


Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has applauded both the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), and the world leading international advocacy organisation, Global Citizen, on their partnership to set up a new funding vehicle, ‘the Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund’ (NSSF), that will provide immediate support to the most vulnerable communities in the fight against COVID-19. 

Speaking during the Virtual Media Unveiling of the support fund on Thursday, the Vice President said the global COVID-19 pandemic has presented significant health, social and economic challenges across the world, which has made the Federal Government to institute various measures such as increasing access to testing, contact tracing and isolation, and implementing social distancing to limit the potentially devastating impact of this deadly virus.

Osinbajo, however, noted that more support is needed given the unprecedented nature of the global pandemic, both in its impact and severity.

“It is clear that this is a challenge that the public sector cannot tackle alone. The virus can only be defeated through carefully coordination and collaborative efforts. The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact is unprecedented; and so too is the desire for Nigerians both at home and abroad who have rallied to help one another and stand in solidarity against this deadly virus,” the Vice President said. 

He reiterated that this stakeholder led-and-resourced mechanism will provide both flexible and rapid response resources to accelerate ongoing efforts to respond to COVID-19 in communities across Nigeria, as well as to strengthen health systems in the aftermath of the acute pandemic response.

The Vice President, who joined the event from his office, reassured Global Citizen, NSIA and other stakeholders that the collaborative efforts will yield the expected results as they work towards combating the disease. 

The virtual media event, hosted by the NSIA and chaired by the Vice President, also had the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, in attendance.

Others present at event moderated by ace media personality, Kadaria Ahmed, included the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the NSIA, Mr. Jide Zeitlin, and the Managing Director, Mr. Uche Orji, with Global Citizen represented by the Chairman of Global Citizen Nigeria, Mr. Babatunde Folawiyo, and the Vice-Chairman, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede.

In her remark, the Honourable Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ahmed said as many Nigerians are facing unprecedented challenges from Covid-19 the strain on government is extreme, and the impact on people all over the country continues to grow. 

“The shock from the effects of Covid-19 is somewhat unusual, as it affects significant elements of both supply and demand,” she said. 

According to the minister, “the supply is disrupted due to morbidity and mortality, but also the containment efforts that restrict mobility, and the high cost of doing business due to restricted supply chains and the tightening of credit. Demand is also falling due to high uncertainty, increased precautionary behavior, containment efforts, and rise in financial cost that reduce the ability to spend.”

Mrs. Ahmed explained that how long the impact would be is still difficult to predict as it would depend on the pandemic, the timeliness and effectiveness of people’s actions; all these, she said, government is focusing on. 

The Minister disclosed that the FG’s number one priority in terms of fiscal response is ensuring frontline health-related spending to protect people’s well-being, to take care of the sick, and slow the spread of the virus. 

“I cannot emphasize enough how urgent it is for a fund vehicle like the Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund to help the Government in funding Covid-19 response efforts and supply of the necessary, protective and treatment equipment and long term strengthening of healthcare systems,” she stated, adding that the NSIA is a credible government agency tasked with driving economic development and fund management across Nigeria. 

“Global Citizen’s partnership with NSIA provides the right vehicle for fund management and disbursement transparency in support of the Government’s Covid-19 response.

On his part, the NSIA Board Chairman, Mr Zeitlin, revealed that the Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund would be incorporated as a non-government charitable foundation to be managed professionally and transparently governed in line with global best practices.

He said the advisory board of the fund would comprise eminent and qualified men and women to ensure the funds are effectively used and properly accounted for, to the benefit of all Nigerians.

“This stakeholder led-and-resourced mechanism will provide tools to augment ongoing efforts to respond to COVID-19 in communities across Nigeria, as well as to strengthen health systems in the aftermath of the acute pandemic response,” he said.

Zeitlen added that as the Sovereign Wealth Fund manager of the most populous country on the continent, it is important for the Board of the NSIA to support collaborations of this nature, which further strengthens the nation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The unprecedented challenge posed by the outbreak demands that we embrace flexibility as never before on partnerships with the right organizations to help mobilize support for the fund as well as building sustainable systems in our communities,” Zeitlin said.

Corroborating the Chairman of the NSIA board, the Managing Director of the Authority, Mr. Uche Orji, stated that the mission of NSIA is to drive sustained economic development for the benefit of all Nigerians, enhancing the development of Nigeria’s infrastructure, and providing stabilisation support in times of economic stress. 

Orji noted that while the COVID-19 pandemic has placed an unprecedented health, social and economic stress on the nation, NSIA is excited to partner with Global Citizen in launching the Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund, as the Fund Manager. 

According to him, the collaboration with Global Citizen would help extend NSIA’s footprint in healthcare delivery in the country.

“Through this partnership, we at NSIA look forward to working with Global Citizen to innovate and transform the delivery of services to the Nigerian people in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Orji said.

While outlining NSIA’s infrastructure investment strategy, Orji stated that the NSIA took a long-term approach to intervening in the healthcare sector with a goal to create model tertiary healthcare facilities designed and equipped to international standards to reduce the foreign exchange burden of medical tourism and develop domestic expertise in tertiary healthcare.

His words; “We have had some successes on this front notably through our three flagship projects: the Cancer Centre at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Advanced Diagnostic Centres at Federal Medical Centre Umuahia (FMCU) and Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH). 

“The Solidarity Fund will enable the expansion of primary health care, thereby improving access, building capacity, and enhancing the resilience of our nation’s health delivery, especially in rural and underserved communities.”Orji stated.

In his own remark during the Virtual Media briefing, Mr. Michael Sheldrick, Chief Policy Officer, Global Citizen, said their involvement in establishing the Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund alongside the NSIA, directly aligns with its Nigeria policy direction for 2020 which seeks to mobilize funds and commitment to Nigeria’s most marginalised people. 

He disclosed that these investments will be aimed at implementation of Universal Healthcare Coverage; and improving the health of the poorest women, children, and adolescents in Nigeria which the solidarity funds core response areas directly supports the overarching goals for Global Citizen’s Nigeria policy direction. 

“I am pleased that our vision as an organisation is being realised through establishment of this fund and we will continue to support the country office and the Nigerian board to make sure the fund achieves its mandate,” Sheldrick said. 

Speaking further, Global Citizen top executive said the advocacy organisation has an ongoing commitment to the African continent and Nigeria, in particular, motivated by two key factors: Firstly, the shift in geopolitical power towards emerging markets, and the recognition that developing countries want and need to have agency over their own development, makes a presence in the sub-Saharan region vital to the long-term success of any initiative seeking to end extreme poverty.

Sheldrick also added that Nigeria has a long history of active citizenship, a vibrant democracy, and a powerful pop culture, driven by music, art, and sport, all of which make it a strong fit for the Global Citizen movement. 

The Chairman of Global Citizen Nigeria, Mr. Folawiyo, said as Global Citizen embark upon its work in Nigeria, the organisation will mobilize Nigerians both at home and in the diaspora, global partners, together with the philanthropic and private sectors in support of Nigeria’s fight against COVID-19. 

The business mogul said Nigeria’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic required individual and collective commitment, adding that through the Nigeria Solidarity Relief Fund, together, and in solidarity, the country would rebuild towards a more responsive and resilient Nigeria in the aftermath of the COVID-19 disaster.

“This is why Global Citizen is honored to 
collaborate with the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority to launch a campaign later this month, which will engage each of us as Nigerians- to do our part, take action and help mobilize support for this critical effort, and time in our nation,” Folawiyo stated. 

The Nigerian philanthropist added that Global Citizen, as the world’s largest movement of action takers and impact makers, is dedicated to ending extreme poverty by 2030. 

“With over 10 million monthly advocates, Global Citizen’s voices have the power to drive lasting change around sustainability, equality, and humanity. Through our work with partners, the actions of our global community, along with high-level advocacy efforts, this has resulted in commitments and policy announcements from world leaders valued at over $48 billion, affecting the lives of more than 2.25 billion people across the globe by 2030. 

In his contribution, the Vice Chairman of Global Citizen Nigeria, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede disclosed that when operational, the Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund will target four core COVID-19 response, mitigation and recovery areas, including supporting the most vulnerable populations, strengthening the domestic healthcare systems, expanding access to rural and community focused universal healthcare access, and e-skilling and re-tooling for the “New Nigerian Renaissance” post COVID-19.

Aig-Imoukhuede noted that the COVID-19 pandemic manifests primarily as a global health challenge but it is clear however that its impact far exceeds the health sector. 

“Our efforts, therefore, must not be limited to acute health response. We believe that to effectively support Nigeria’s response efforts and to emerge from this as a more resilient nation, our efforts must take an integrated, systems approach at the center of which is a mandate to support our most vulnerable communities,” the banking mogul stated. 

“Our efforts must ensure that we are able to envision and meet the demands that will emerge in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is imperative as the nation adjusts to the realities of a changing economy, transitions to a “new normal” and embraces the Nigeria of the future,” Aig-Imoukhuede added.

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