Sunday, January 23, 2022

COVID-19 vaccines and BUA’s exemplary philanthropy, by Chidiebere Nwobodo 

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“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” — John F. Kennedy.

The menace of Covid-19 pandemic has truly ravaged and disrupted human activities across the globe in the last one year. Its claws of death, thorn of sickness and shadow of fear, have held the world near hostage in recent times. It has been a harvest of deaths, for this virus that took the world unawares. Political, religious and business leaders have been sweating profusely on how to save mankind from this debilitating plague called coronavirus. Nigeria, as the highest concentration of black race, was not spared either. But thank God that we can see the light of vaccine at the end of this dark tunnel of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In an auspicious moment of national and international crisis, as presented by Covid-19 epidemic, great men and women of genuine compassion, philanthropic valor and unparalleled patriotism, are revealed by the demand of the moment. Alhaji Abdul Samad Rabiu, chairman of BUA conglomerate, is one of them. This renowned industrialist, business magnate and Forbes’ rated billionaire has been a committed philanthropist all his adult life. But his unparalleled responses to Covid-19 crisis, in terms of donations and support, have stood him out as an epitome of philanthropic gestures and golden fish of patriotism, that has no hiding place.

I am not given to opportunistic sycophancy or hypocritical praise singing, but we should not only write when it is time to criticize leaders—we should commend them when they have done well. This is my guiding philosophy. When I saw in the news that BUA conglomerate led by Alhaji AbdulSamad Rabiu has paid humongous sum of N1.3 billion naira for one million doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines, it came to me as a glimpse of hope in the dark clouds of negative news of killings; kidnapping, and ethno-religious rivalry, that have dominated the media space in the last few months. It was like a mental balm in a psychological wound.

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These AstraZenetra vaccines, expected to be delivered soon, will literally be the first government-certified vaccines to arrive Nigeria, for the sole purpose of tackling this pandemic that has raptured our hemorrhaging healthcare system. Imagine how many lives one million vaccines will save? let assume it is one million lives, these people will be prevented from infecting other Nigerians. Rabiu’s singular act of philanthropy, anchored on patriotism, has cumulative tendencies of preserving millions of lives, especially impoverished Nigerians that does not have the means to travel abroad just to get vaccinated. It is stepping out of one’s comfort to show leadership when it is needed mostly.

This is why I see certain interests, especially in the CACOVID Committee, allegedly trying to politicise this noble move, as enemies of the masses. As I write, many  Nigerians who have contracted this virus are on the hospital beds seriously grasping for breaths cum life. The only thing that matters to them now is to be Covid-19 free and start living a normal life. And there are millions of others in the country at the huge risk of being hit by this pillaging pandemic that is savaging the nation.

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Some business interests who have been in war of attrition with the BUA honcho, Alhaji AbdulSamad Rabiu, should please not be a stumbling block in its quest to rescue the nation at a time of crisis like this, because Nigerians are really dieing of coronavirus and need strong individual interventions as demonstrated by the BUA leadership.

There comes a time when pettiness, parochialism and unpatriotic conspiracies are shoved aside for the overall interest of the nation. It is not about who takes the credit for purchasing these highly needed vaccines for Nigerians, but the clarion call to save lives and curtail the spread of this virus in the country. Members of CACOVID Committee should recognize the fact that millions of Nigerians are looking up to them at a difficult period we found ourselves in. Nigerians will not forget in a hurry how palliatives provided by the business community to be distributed to the masses, were hoarded, diverted and even sold in the open markets by those saddled with the responsibility to share these foodstuffs, when many Nigerians were starving at homes.

While governors and local authorities are to be blamed for the misfortune that befell the palliatives, CACOVID Committee should get fair share of the blame for falling on its core responsibility to follow through on those palliatives. This is why some Nigerians are worried again to see cocoon of voices emanating from the Committee, especially as regards the payment of N1.3 billion naira by BUA’s AbdulSamad Rabiu. Probably, some people felt “outshined” by this philanthropic decision that was inspired by sheer patriotism cum humanism. This is not the first time one of the richest people in Africa would be coming to the rescue. He has sterling precedent of philanthropy.

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In heat of Covid-19 crisis last year, he gave out two billion naira to Kano and one billion naira to Lagos State governments, respectively, albeit simultaneously to curb this pandemic. Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19 got three hundred million from the Kano-born billionaire at the same time, making it total of N3.3 billion given out in one full swoop. In addition, Kano State got five brand new ambulances and twenty Hillux Vans to equal its medical centers. Before the N3.3 naira intervention, Alhaji AbdulSamad Rabiu had donated one billion naira to the Federal Government. What a great strides!

Conservatively, Alhaji AbdulSamad Rabiu through his foundation has supported the fight against Covid-19 with close to six billion naira! This is indeed an exemplary philanthropic milestones that should not be allowed to slide uncelebrated. I call him uncommon philanthropist. Instead of sabotaging this great Nigerian philanthropist of repute, that in addition, has created hundreds of thousands of jobs, he should be supported by all to rescue Nigerians from the clutches of Covid-19 crisis.

Mr Nwobodo writes from Abuja via [email protected].

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