ECOWAS Appoints Buhari To Lead The Fight Against COVID-19

ECOWAS Appoints Buhari To Lead The Fight Against COVID-19

By Wires Editor | The Trent on April 25, 2020
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Muhammadu Buhari
President Buhari participates at an Extraordinary ECOWAS Summit on the impact of COVID-19 in the region, via video conference, in Abuja on 23rd April 2020. | State House Photo

Presidents of West African countries, under the aegis of the Economic Community of West African States Authority of Heads of State Government, have appointed President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria to Champion west Africa’s COVID-19 response.

According to a statement by President Buhari’s special adviser on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, the appointment took place on Thursday, April 23, 2020, at the Extraordinary ECOWAS Summit on COVID-19, which was held via teleconference under the Chairmanship of the President of the Republic of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou.

During the teleconference, Buhari called on fellow ECOWAS leaders to look beyond the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and tap into various opportunities the pandemic presents for the improvement of lives in the Member States.

President Buhari said, “In every challenging situation such as the current one, there are also opportunities. Our region must, therefore, seek to find those opportunities provided by this gloomy global outlook for its benefit by embarking on the implementation of such critical policies, which, before now, will be difficult to accept.”

Buhari also called on his fellow heads of state of the region to intensify collaboration in order to save the region from the pandemic through sharing experiences and best practices. He also outlined some. measures his administration have taken in response to the global pandemic.

These include reduction of interest rates on all applicable Central Bank of Nigeria interventions from 9%  to 5% percent, and the introduction of a one-year moratorium on CBN intervention facilities; as well as the inauguration of a presidential task force to coordinate national efforts to combat the spread of the virus, and ensure efficiency and effectiveness in line with the Nigerian Action Plan on Health Security.

Other measures are the provision of relief materials, including medical and food supplies, as well as conditional cash transfers of N20,000 each to poor and vulnerable households; and the establishment of more isolation centers, and testing facilities to contain the spread of the virus.

The President also stated that unprecedented economic uncertainties, including severe fiscal and foreign exchange constraints, amid a slowdown in global economic growth that most nations are grappling with, have made it imperative for “our sub-region to refocus on accelerating the implementation of our popular vision of ‘ECOWAS of the people’ by adopting dynamic regional policies aimed at providing relief to our citizens.”

He added, “Despite declining revenues, the government continues to spend massively on the containment of the virus, medical care for those infected and minimizing impact of the crisis on the poor and vulnerable. This situation puts severe pressure on our finances by increasing our expenditures amid dwindling revenues. This invariably has led to a restructuring and reduction of our budget.”

According to the statement, Buhari used the occasion to rally other leaders to embrace agriculture, technology, and innovation in order to emerge stronger.

He said, “It is imperative that, while addressing short-term challenges, we should also explore opportunities to promote strong and dynamic agricultural policies that will guarantee food security for our people, creating jobs and reducing poverty in the region. We must innovate and use technology to boost the digital economy and do things differently, but better.”

The President affirmed Nigeria’s solidarity with other member states as they battled the virus.

Hattip to Vanguard

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