Presidents of West African countries under the aegis of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government have appointed President Buhari as the ”Champion” that will coordinate the COVID-19 response in the sub-region.
A statement issued by Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the appointment took place today Thursday April 23, at the Extraordinary ECOWAS Summit on COVID-19 which was held via teleconferencing under the Chairmanship of His Excellency, Mahamadou Issoufou, President of the Republic of Niger.
Adesina said during the teleconference, President Buhari called on fellow ECOWAS leaders to look beyond the challenges posed by the COVID -19 pandemic and tap into various opportunities that it presents for the betterment of lives in member states.
“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.” he said
While calling on his colleagues to intensify collaboration in order to save the region from “this deadly pandemic through sharing experiences and best practices,” President Buhari outlined some measures taken by his government in response to the pandemic. These include:
a. The reduction of interest rates on all applicable Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) interventions from 9 to 5 percent and introduction of a one- year moratorium on CBN intervention facilities;
b. The inauguration of 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;
c. The provision of relief materials including medical and food supplies as well as conditional cash transfers of N20, 000 each for poor and vulnerable households and ;
d. The establishment of more isolation centers and testing facilities to contain the spread of the virus.
President Buhari affirmed Nigeria’s solidarity with other member states as they battle the virus:
“At a time of global uncertainty such as this, caused by the devastating impact of the COVID-19, let me convey Nigeria’s solidarity with all the Member States as we collectively battle to defeat the pandemic. I am greatly saddened by loss of numerous lives and extend my heartfelt condolences to families of those who have lost loved ones throughout the region. I also wish infected victims speedy and full recovery.” he said
He reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to the well-being and safety of the people in the sub-region and restated support for any initiative that would curb the spread of the pandemic in the region.