Access Bank Plc, Group Managing Director, Herbert Wigwe has called on the Organised Private Sector (OPS) to join hands with the Nigerian Business Coalition against AIDS, NIBUCAA, a non-governmental organization in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Wigwe gave the charge at a dinner organised by NIBUCAA at the weekend for key players in the business sector, soliciting their partnership on how to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.
Wigwe, who also doubles as Co-Chair of the board of NIBUCAA said the scourge of HIV/AIDS still persists in the country with Nigeria having the second largest AIDS population in the world.
“We have to realise that HIV/AIDS is not just a health problem, it is a developmental challenge. Therefore, the private sector cannot afford to be complacent with regards to the scourge. It is eminently desirable that private sector supports all efforts geared towards the realization of the goal of the multi-sectoral response to HIV pandemic in particular under the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.
In his remarks, Managing Director, Total E&P Nigeria and a Co-chair of NIBUCAA board, Nicolas Terras, said the fight against HIV/AIDS is too big for the government to handle alone.
According to him, captains of industries have collective leadership roles to play in the multi-sectoral response to HIV and AIDS, adding that the scourge is one that must be won at all costs.
He said NIBUCAA, as a platform should be a veritable channel for the private sector to utilize their core competencies and resources towards addressing the issue of HIV/AIDS prevalence in the country.
Also commenting on why it is important for the private sector to partner with NIBUCAA in its drive to eradicate HIV/AIDS from Nigeria, Executive Secretary, NIBUCAA, Gbenga Alabi, quoting Juan Somavia, a former Director General of the International Labour Organization, said two out of three people living with HIV or AIDS go to work every day, making the workplace vital entry point for tackling the menace.
He said Nigeria’s greatest assets and investment opportunity is its human capital, therefore, all hands must be on deck at ensuring that the human capital, which is the country’s source of economic growth and development be protected and enlightened about the menace of AIDS/HIV.
Alabi said NIBUCAA which currently comprises of 36 leading businesses across the country and committed to fighting the danger at all levels, represents the voice of Nigerian private sector response to HIV/AIDS.
To him, the coalition which seeks to build a public-private partnership with government, civil society organization and international donor community, among other objectives, will promote activities encouraging demand for HIV voluntary confidential counseling and testing in the workplace.