President Muhammadu Buhari Monday said only a collective international approach will mitigate the devastating effect of COVID-19, while assuring that the Federal Government will intensify efforts to monitor, test and isolate more people, especially at the community level.
President Buhari, who participated in a virtual Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), said national, regional and global strategies would be required to tackle the pandemic, which, he said, had ravaged humanity and caused unprecedented devastation to the well-being of people, their livelihoods, and global economy.
“The theme of this extra-ordinary Summit ‘United Against COVID-19 Pandemic,’ aptly reflects the importance for a proactive approach and the need for multilateral cooperation in finding quick solutions to the challenges that COVID-19 pandemic poses to our nations.
The President said the task before the international community remains daunting, and that more needed to be done to reduce the impact of COVID-19.
According to him, “It is now clearly evident that no nation can independently and singlehandedly tackle a pandemic of this nature which is no respecter of borders, regions or status.
“Invariably, enhancing multilateral cooperation through exchange and sharing of best practices is imperative to overcome the disease. We must, therefore, form a united front against this common enemy by being coordinated and timely in our responses.
“Furthermore, we must all encourage and empower our scientists and medical experts to join the quest for a vaccine and cure to this universal plague.’’
The President told Heads of States and Governments of the Non-Aligned Movement that the central role of the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) in fighting the pandemic must be acknowledged and leveraged for the benefit of all member nations.
He urged international financial institutions to assist member states in cushioning the negative impact of the pandemic in the spirit of solidarity, which will include extending concessional loans, technical support, lowering of tariff on medical equipment and consumables, sharing of expertise in case management, adopting open trade policies, as well as outright debt cancellation.
On Nigeria’s effort to control the spread of the virus in Nigeria, and ameliorate the economic effect, the President said, “We have closed our land borders and airports and reduced seaport activities in a bid to curb imported cases from entering the country. Unfortunately, the number of confirmed cases continues to rise as a result of community transmission of the disease.
He said various relief materials were handed out, including medical and food supplies as well as conditional cash transfer to about 3.6 million vulnerable households affected by the stay at home order, while responding to the economic needs of citizens by supporting households and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) affected by COVID-19 induced economic downturn.
The President noted that a Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 was set up, and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control is strengthened to face the challenges of mobilization, sensitization and implementation of all decisions.