Philanthropists in Nigeria have played a pivotal role in addressing national emergencies, but the scope of their partnership widened beyond expectations during the COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when families increasingly struggle to buy food due to low economic activities during the pandemic, such efforts are significantly crucial. Private sector institutions and wealthy individuals have donated large sums of money in an effort to mitigate COVID-19’s impact on Nigeria. The initiative, named Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) is one such endeavor, which raised well above N25.8 billion (approximately $620,192,307.6 at the time) as additional financial resources to complement the government’s effort.
Furthermore, Nigerians in the diaspora and other international donors contributed considerable money to support the government’s effort to address COVID-19’s impact on Nigeria. They made their contributions noticeable through a nonprofit organization called Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund (NSSF). The NSSF, created in 2020 as a “multi-donor institutional mechanism” for raising funds for interventions in the health sector, uses its funds to target vulnerable groups and re-skilling the youths for post-COVID-19. The NSSF has been actively involved in vaccine advocacy campaigns and training health care workers in Nigeria.
In Nigeria, charitable giving has strong ties to religious and cultural traditions. Both Christian and Islamic beliefs emphasize the importance of helping others. The glaring negative impact of the pandemic on individuals and households has invited the private sector to provide assistance in curbing the large-scale impact of COVID-19. This includes the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 CACOVID Fund, which delivers effective assistance to improving the public and private health sectors. Funds that CACOVID collected totaled $55.7 million, 5.1 million of which have been received via donations from the Central Bank.
According to a World Bank report on COVID-19’s impact on Nigeria, the strict measures adopted by the government to contain the virus, coupled with the declining prices of petroleum products, a significant earner of national income by 60%, brought hardship to most households. The Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in 2022, also reported that about 133 million Nigerians, or 63%, are multi-dimensionally poor, compared to the pre-COVID period figure of about 80 million before the pandemic.
Implementation and Accountability
The government of Nigeria introduced a regulatory measure titled, Framework for the Management of COVID-19 Funds in Nigeria under the Treasury Single Account. The aim of this framework is to support adequate transparency pertaining to COVID-19 funds. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation containing $1 million, also supported Nigerians rebuilding and addressing the ramifications following COVID-19.
The public-private partnership model to address national emergencies is emerging as a regular pattern in Nigeria. In the second half of 2022, widespread flooding took place across the country, particularly in Benue state. The Dangote Flood Committee, which Mr. Aliko Dangote heads, helps flood victims across the country. During the late 2022 flooding incident, the committee raised a significant amount of money totaling N1.5 billion from philanthropists to provide relief and food resources to flood victims in the country. Such relief efforts are of particular significance, as UNICEF reports the destruction of 82,000 homes. This was in addition to the government’s efforts and the $21.4 million aid from the United States.
Public spiritedness, charity or philanthropy are emerging as extra tiers of solutions to national and global challenges. While citizens expect that governments assume primary responsibility, philanthropist partnerships with the government contribute hugely in relation to financial assistance to address COVID-19’s impact on Nigeria. This intervention brought immense relief to larger sections of the population beyond the scope that the government provided.
– Friday Okai