What Buhari told AU leaders about COVID-19, vaccines

President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday told other African leaders that Nigeria was committed to working with them to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Buhari’s speech at the African Union virtual summit was read by Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister, Godfrey Onyeama, according to a statement by the president’s office.

The president spoke about the need to vaccinate majority of Africans.

“The imperative for the immunisation of 60 per cent of Africans with safe and secure vaccines cannot be overemphasized,” he said.

Read Mr Buhari’s full speech below.

His Excellency, Felix Tshisekedi, the Chairperson of the African Union (AU), President of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

His Excellencies, Distinguished Heads of State and Government.

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, His Excellency, Musa Faki Muhammad.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.

I will like at the outset to express our profound gratitude to my brother, President Cyril Ramaphosa, for the outstanding manner in which he has steered the affairs of our union during the last one year. I will also like to congratulate my brother, President Felix Tshisekedi on his assumption of our union. We wish you a happy and successful tenure and assure you of Nigeria’s unflinchingly support.

I will like in particular to congratulate the Chairperson of the union, President Cyril Ramaphosa, for making a good use of the platform of the bureau to address key issues for Africa on the Coronavirus pandemic. The Coronavirus pandemic has created additional burden to our public health system and posed a major challenge to the gains made in the socio-economic development and overall wellbeing of our continent. The outbreak of the second wave of the pandemic has not made the situation any better. I commend the African Center for Disease Control for rising to the occasion by ensuring the implementation of set priorities.

I also commend other efforts and support extended to the regional economic communities and member states. The leadership provided by the Assembly Bureau, the cooperation of the African Union Commission and regional economic cooperation, including the support from partners have been exemplary.

Your Excellencies, the establishment of a coronavirus response special fund with the objective to implement measures to mitigate the socio-economic and humanitarian impact of Coronavirus in Africa, including boosting the capacity of the African Center for Disease Control is commendable.

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Nigeria welcomes today’s report from my brother Cyril Ramaphosa, including the endorsement of the attached decisions. In view of the results on ground today, Africa must be commended even as we begin the implementation of a mitigation strategy. The imperative for the immunisation of 60 percent of Africans with safe and secure vaccines cannot be overemphasized. Nigeria therefore welcomes the decision to establish the coronavirus African Vaccine Acquisition Capacity to accelerate the financing and procurement of coronavirus vaccines for the continent. We continue to appreciate the remarkable progress by the team with respect to securing a provisional 270 million coronavirus vaccines doses for Africa along with Africa Medical Supply platform and other laudable initiatives already in place.

Excellencies, in my capacity as ECOWAS Champion on Coronavirus, Nigeria has provided logistics support, including the freight in of critical Covid-19 medical supplies distributed to other ECOWAS member states.

At the national level and in the fallout of the coronavirus outbreak in Nigeria, we prioritize the vulnerable, including women, children, older persons and the unemployed in our efforts to provide medical and social assistance to mitigate the socio-economic effects of the disease. I will like to stress that Nigeria is committed to working with other member states in the spirit of regional cooperation and solidarity to promote human health and general wellbeing. We will continue to partner with the World Health Organization (WHO), the African Center for Disease Control and West African Health Organization as well as other countries to ensure accelerated development and manufacturing as well as unhindered supply of safe and effective coronavirus vaccines to all Africans.

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