By Chido Nwakanma
There is a long list of organizations and individuals that have been “supporting Nigeria’s emergency response to COVID-19”. Their assistance speaks to the various collaborations and partnerships behind the successful coordination and management of the country’s most significant health emergency in recent memory.
On the exhaustive list include the United Nations, the European Union, Bill and Melinda Gates, Jack Ma Foundation, the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, Nigerian Breweries, Nestle Nigeria, BUA Group, Dangote Foundation, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Tolaram Group, Me Cure Industries Limited, Flood Relief Fund, Tata Agro Chemicals, MTN Nigeria, Friesland Campina WAMCO. The support from donors, private sector, individuals both in Nigeria and outside of the country are too many to detail.
However, this positive landscape of private and donor support to the COVID response was marred recently with controversy. Much drama attended the discovery of warehouses containing COVID-19 palliatives for citizens across several states in the wake of the #ENDSARS protests. Disgruntled citizens, hoodlums, and even security officials scrambled for palliatives while unscrupulous individuals engaged in vandalism of properties. These actions shocked well-meaning Nigerians, leading to many questions and many lessons for all parties. The key revelation was the unravelling of the collaboration model that secured the procurement and deployment of the palliatives in question.
The Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) is a private-sector task force partnering with the Federal Government, through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF), with the sole aim of supporting Nigeria’s COVID-19 response. They are a shining star in that exhaustive list of support to Nigeria. CACOVID, following consultations with partners including the PTF, purchased food items and supplies for distribution by State Governments to citizens. It was the public face of a synergy that has worked well since Nigeria began its COVID-19 response with the establishment of a collaboration model to drive the efforts. CACOVID garnered resources and expertise across industries to provide technical and operational support while funding and building advocacy through aggressive community-focused awareness campaigns.
In alignment with the PTF, CACOVID was instrumental in the construction of isolation and treatment centres as well as supporting Intensive Care Units and molecular testing laboratories across the country. Most recently, they supported the re-opening of the Lagos and Abuja international airports with the establishment of the Nigeria International Travel Portal (NITP – www. https://nitp.ncdc.gov.ng) responsible for channeling all international travellers through a protocol of mandatory PCR testing, registration, self-isolation and retesting upon arrival to Nigeria. CACOVID has worked closely with the PTF to deliver its programmes through a coordinated approach that is an exemplar of both government-to-private sector partnership.
PTF has replicated this model across the government and donor landscape. Through its Secretariat, it coordinates the efforts of the various MDAs and partners to avoid duplication of efforts and facilitate the seamless and targeting channelling of resources. It works closely with the donor community and multilateral organisations such as the World Health Organisation, the UK Cabinet Office, the World Bank and various agencies in the United Nations System. It got assistance on project management and governance from firms such as Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC), Nigeria Economic Summit Group, eHealth, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and many more.
Another outcome of effective collaboration is the establishment of the COVID transparency trackers that foster the PTF’s mandated good governance and accountability frameworks. These are the Incidence and Response Tracker Dashboard developed by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group and the COVID-19 Resource Tracking Dashboard developed by the United Nations Development Programme. PTF deployed the Incidence and Response Tracker Dashboard in support of the National COVID-19 Multi-Sectoral Pandemic Response Plan to publicize and track the resource requirements across all 36 states and the FCT. They also bridge gaps that exist in three critical priority areas – testing; treatment and isolation; and contact tracing and tracking.
As a result of the PTF partnership model, the UN launched the One UN COVID-19 Response Basket Fund to complement efforts to mobilise resources in support of Nigeria’s pandemic response plan. The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 developed the program in partnership with the UN System. The Basket Fund serves as the centralized COVID-19 Financing and Investment Platform.
Different stakeholders (including UN, other multilateral and bilateral donors, as well as private sector donors, foundations and philanthropists) channel their financial support to the multi-sectoral efforts of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Response. This enables transparency and accountability. Chairman of the PTF and the Secretary to the Federal Government, Mr Boss Mustapha credits the PTF successes to its broad-based collaborations within government and across the private sector and donor community.
The PTF and its partners must continue and scale up the interventions in a transparent and proactive manner. They must also mitigate any gaps and failures within their partnership structures. Specifically, the collaboration with CACOVID and the State Governments to ensure effective distribution of relief materials urgently and equitably to circumvent delays and provide much-needed economic support to the vulnerable.