COVID-19 devastations: Buhari wants debts cancellation for African nations
From Atiku Sarki, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said global solidarity was the hope for humanity, as he further called on developed countries and international financial institutions to cancel the debts of ”needy countries,” especially in Africa to enable them reverse the devastations of COVID-19 to the human race.
President Buhari renewed the appeal for debt cancellation for African counties in a virtual meeting tagged: “High-Level Event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond,” convened by Canada, Jamaica and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
The President equally urged major nations to provide free additional resources through an international consensus to assist poor countries to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
He cautioned major nations against adopting a “me first” and “every man for himself” attitude, warning that the consequences for the global population in the 21st Century could only be imagined.
The president said: “The world has changed through COVID-19 and so must the global financing architecture for development financing and the response to the current pandemic.”
Buhari stressed that there is an urgent need for weak and needy countries especially those of Africa, to receive a fresh reprieve.
“This is a historic plague affecting every corner of the globe.
“In the circumstances, the response needed must be global, unconditional, comprehensive and rapid.
“Debts must be forgiven and cancelled.
“Free additional resources are needed urgently through an international consensus to enable poor countries work to reverse the devastations of COVID-19 to the human race,” the President emphasised.
He also spoke of his mind, saying thus: “Rising now and standing together in true global solidarity, to my mind, is the only hope for humanity, the best approach to safeguarding the 2030 SDGs and the only way we can build back for more resilient economies and societies.”
Buhari also used the occasion to apprise the international community on the devastating impact of the pandemic on the nation’s economy, the health sector and efforts by his government to mitigate the crisis.
His words: “For Nigeria, the shocks are multiple, including the sharp decline in international oil prices which has negatively impacted revenues and growth, worsened external and domestic positions, and further increased banking sector vulnerabilities, resulting in enormous human and economic toll on the country.
“We have been proactive in implementing a number of strong measures, including fiscal, monetary and structural policies, and a multi-front response to the health crisis created by COVID-19 which captures all tiers of government as well as the private sector.”
He explained that the objective of his administration is to revert to its planned medium-term fiscal consolidation path once the crisis is over.
“Our strategy for macroeconomic stability is anchored on our home-grown Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP),” he said.
President Buhari added that the country had revised its 2020 budget downwards and shifted emphasis to response activities towards bridging the critical gaps in the health infrastructures to strengthen national response to COVID-19 and other diseases.
On demographics and health, the President told the meeting that with an estimated population of 200 million and a large segment of economically vulnerable population, the country had a high burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases.
“This level of disease burden, coupled with poverty level and Nigeria’s weak system; the COVID-19 pandemic is certainly jeopardizing and reversing the gains already made by the government and its partners including in such other areas as outbreaks of Lassa and yellow fevers and measles,” said the President.
Meanwhile, it could be recalled that the country had recorded its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on February 27, this year.
Since then, the nation has seen a steady increase in the number of cases, with 8,733 confirmed cases, out of which 2,501 have been discharged and 254 deaths reported across 35 states as at Wednesday this week.
More than 50 Heads of State and Government as well as heads of international organisations participated in the High-Level event, as it was disclosed by a statement from the spokesperson of the President, Mr. Femi Adesina and made available to The Triumph in Abuja yesterday.