President Muhammadu Buhari says global solidarity is the only hope for humanity to reverse the devastation of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the human race.
The President said this during a virtual meeting, tagged “High-Level Event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and beyond”, on Thursday in Abuja.
He also renewed the appeal for debt cancellation for African countries at the event convened by Canada, Jamaica and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
President Buhari 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.
The Nigerian leader also urged developed nations to provide free additional resources, through an international consensus, to assist poor countries to fight the Coronavirus pandemic.
The President, however, cautioned major nations against adopting a “me first” and “every man for himself” attitude, warning that “the consequences for all of us in the 21st century can only be imagined”.
“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 safeguard the 2030 SDGs and the only way we can build back for more resilient economies and societies.”
The President also used the occasion to apprise the international community on 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).”
President Buhari said Nigeria had revised its 2020 budget downwards.
According to him, the country has shifted emphasis to response activities to bridge the critical gaps in the health infrastructure 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 jeopardising 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,” President Buhari said.
Nigeria recorded its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on Feb, 27, 2020.
Since then, the country 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 recorded in 35 States as at May 27.
More than 50 Heads of State and Government as well as heads of international organisations participated in the High-Level Event. (NAN)