The Governor Godwin Emefiele-led CBN and the NNPC-led Mele Kyari have been major financial supporters of the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic by rallying the business community to raise over N27 billion naira in donations.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama said the CBN and the NNPC have agreed to provide N1 billion jointly to cover the cost of hotel accommodation and feeding of the evacuees for 14 days on arrival in the country. The two agencies will provide the funds under their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative.
Onyeama disclosed this during a briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, Monday.
The stranded Nigerians who will be arriving from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, China, India and Thailand via special flights, according to the foreign Ministry, will be accommodated in Lagos and Abuja.
The federal government had been criticized by many Nigerians following its directive to prospective evacuees to pay N290, 000 as cost for their hotel accommodation and feeding during their 14 days mandatory quarantine in Nigerian upon arrival.
The foreign Ministry said it had exhausted its budget for the programme having supported the 620 returnees presently under quarantine in the country.
“The Minister of Environment, Dr Mohammed Abubakar, on Friday night called me and suggested, ‘why not try NNPC, why not try CBN? They have corporate social responsibility funding.’ I told him I would do that immediately.
“I got in touch with the governor of the CBN and I told him I was going to do the same with the GMD, NNPC, Mele Kyari, and the governor of central bank agreed.
“We are talking of over N1bn because till now, we have about 4,000 Nigerians out there and if 3,000 of them come back, the cost of accommodation, feeding and everything else is over N1bn that we don’t have and he said he is ready to explore and share with the NNPC.”
“I spoke to the GMD of NNPC and he said he is going to consult. So, we kept fingers crossed and thanks be to God, today (Monday), he got back to me to say he was going to meet up with the governor of central bank and together, they would fund the portion – accommodation and feeding of evacuees, so we can go forward in a better environment,” Onyeama said.
He added that public health doctors had counseled that best practice would be to test the evacuees in Nigeria after their 14-day quarantine adding that the positive cases among the evacuees from the United Arab Emirates had justified the advice.
“Medical experts had told us it was not necessary to test beforehand because the gestation cannot be seen immediately. I think the positive cases in Lagos actually showed that testing beforehand is not guaranteed, whatsoever,” the Minister added.