President Muhammadu Buhari has said the support of developed countries and international financial organisations to poorer countries will help to beat COVID-19.
Buhari renewed the campaign for debt cancellation for African countries on Thursday during a virtual meeting for about 50 countries across the globe, convened by Canada, Jamaica and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Speaking during the meeting, tagged “High-Level Event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond”, President Buhari observed that global solidarity was the hope for humanity, adding that debt cancellation for African countries would help the human race to reverse the devastations of COVID-19.
According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, the President also cautioned major nations against adopting a ‘me first’ and ‘every man for himself’ approach.
His words: ‘’The world has changed through COVID-19 and so must the global financing architecture for development financing and the response to the current pandemic. 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 devastation of COVID-19 to the human race.
“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.”
The President apprised the international community of the devastating impact of the pandemic on the Nigerian economy, the health sector and efforts by his government to mitigate the crisis.
“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.
“Our objective is to revert to the government’s 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.
Buhari said Nigeria 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, Nigeria 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,” he said.