By Harrison Arubu
The United States Government has announced a 7 million dollars (about N2.6 billion) emergency health and humanitarian aid to Nigeria amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
This is part of a 274 million dollars (N103 billion) assistance package to no fewer than 63 countries affected by the disease, according to a statement by the Department of States on Friday.
Nigeria’s share, the statement said, will go into funding of “risk communication, water and sanitation activities, infection prevention, and coordination’’.
“This assistance joins more than 5.2 billion dollars (N1.9 trillion) in U.S. health assistance and more than 8.1 billion dollars (N3trillion) in total assistance for Nigeria over the past 20 years,’’ it said.
As of Friday morning, Nigeria had 65 confirmed cases and one death from COVID-19, whose global infection and fatality figures stood at no fewer than half a million and 26,000 respectively.
The U.S. announcement came a day after President Muhammadu Buhari approved the release of a total of N15 billion to fight the spread of coronavirus in the country.
This includes a N10 billion grant to Lagos State, which has the highest number of 44 cases in the country, and N5 billion to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as special intervention fund.
Wealthy Nigerians and organisations, including banks, have also announced donations running into billions of Naira in support of the fight against the virus.
Among them is the United Bank for Africa (UBA), which announced a donation of N5 billion.
Some oil industry players, led by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), on Friday announced a combined donation of $30 million (N11 billion.
Nigerian businessmen such as Femi Otedola, Abdulsamad Rabiu, Herbert Wigwe, Segun Agbaje and Aliko Dangote, have also reportedly pledged N1 billion each to the efforts.
According to the Department of State, the $274 million aid package includes $64 million (N24 billion) to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR.
This would be used to address challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in refugee and Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) camps around the world.(NAN)