Presidents of West African countries, under the aegis of the Economic Community of West African States Authority of Heads of State and Governments, have appointed the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), as champion of their COVID-19 response.
A statement by Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in Abuja, said the appointment took place on Thursday, 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 was said to have 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.
Buhari was quoted as saying, “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.”
While calling on his colleagues to intensify collaboration in order to save the region from “this deadly pandemic through sharing our experiences and best practices,” Buhari outlined some measures taken by his regime in response to the pandemic.
They include, reduction of interest rates on all applicable Central Bank of Nigeria interventions from nine per cent to five per cent and introduction of a one-year moratorium on CBN intervention facilities; and 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.
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, had 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.”
Buhari added, “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.”