By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, Thursday joined the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) in extraordinary summit via teleconference in which the regional leaders demanded total debt cancellation for African countries.
This is even as the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government appointed President Muhammadu Buhari Champion of the COVID-19 response.
According to the West African leaders, debts cancellation for African countries would enable the continent to survive the post-coronavirus era.
The summit was convened by the regional leaders to deliberate on the COVID-19 pandemic, which has continued to ravage humanity worldwide.
Chairman of ECOWAS and President of Niger Republic, Alhaji Mahamadou Issoufou, who presided over the virtual summit, raised the alarm over the devastating effects of the deadly virus on humanity and economies of the member-states.
Issoufou also called for collaborative efforts among the member-states to combat the pandemic, which he said had already claimed many lives in the region and beyond.
The Nigerien president, who spoke in French language, commended the World Bank and Africa Development Bank (AfDB) for their contributions so far towards fighting the spread of the deadly Coronavirus.
He urged the two financial institutions to do more for the African continent so as to save more lives.
The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for West Africa and the Sahel (SRSG), Mr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, who spoke at the event, reiterated the determination of the UN to continue to partner with the African Union and ECOWAS in fighting the deadly Coronavirus.
He Also called for debt cancellation for African countries as part of palliatives to cushion the effects of the virus on their various economies.
The President of ECOWAS, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou had earlier in April in a statement announced financial donations and equipment to its member states in support of their fight against the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic.
Kassi Brou reaffirmed the commission’s solidarity with member states as they battled to contain the COVID-19 scourge.
About 13 ECOWAS leaders, including President Muhammadu Buhari, participated in the teleconference as at the time of filing this report.
Speaking 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 presented 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”
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.”
President Buhari outlined some measures taken by his government in response to the pandemic.