Buhari seeks debt cancellation for Africa – Punch Newspapers

John Ameh, Abuja

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Thursday sought reprieve, particularly debt cancellation, for Africa and other weak economies to help them to recover the losses to the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

The President called for a global solidarity to fight the pandemic, urging advanced countries and international financial institutions to give special attention to weak nations.

He spoke during a virtual United Nations “High-Level Event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond.”

The President joined the discussions via video conferencing from the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

UN scribe, António Guterres, had invited Buhari to participate in the session with other world leaders across developing and developed countries.

Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and his Jamaican counterpart, Andrew Holness, co-hosted the high-level discussions.

However, Buhari had hardly gone far in his speech when his connection went off abruptly, leaving the other organisers with no choice than to pick the next speaker.

He had experienced hitches right from start, losing audio and video connection part of the way before Buhari got disconnected completely.

Several leaders also suffered hitches, with their presentations disrupted intermittently and going off the air completely eventually.

But, the State House later gave the details of the President’s presentation.

Buhari stated,  ‘’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 to reverse the devastations 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. ‘’

Buhari highlighted the impact of COVID -19 on African countries, particularly their loss of revenues, making it difficult for them to fund their 2020 budgets.

For Nigeria, he said it was hard-hit by the crash in oil revenue, the mainstay of its monolithic economy.

However, Buhari informed his co-participants that his regime had introduced measures, including retooling the economy through “home-grown strategies” to ensure that Nigeria survived the pandemic now and beyond.

Meanwhile, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo launched the Steering Committee of the ‘Clean Nigeria, Use the Toilet Campaign’ of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources on Thursday.

Speaking during the virtual event, Osinbajo said access to clean water was the surest way to fight many diseases, including the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

Osinbajo said, “We are embarking upon this initiative at a most auspicious time. As our nation confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognise that expanding access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene facilities is our most effective weapon against the scourge of infectious diseases.

“Ensuring the provision of adequate WASH facilities in our communities is the cornerstone of our efforts to strengthen the resilience of our public health structures beyond the present challenge of COVID-19.

“This is the basis of our commitment to ending open defecation and more broadly to raising the standards in the WASH sector.”

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