The Presidents of West African countries, under the Economic Community of West African States Authority of Heads of State and Government, have appointed Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari as Champion of their COVID-19 response.
In a statement by Mr Femi Adesina, Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, the appointment took place on Thursday at the Extraordinary ECOWAS Summit on COVID-19, which was held through teleconference under the Chairmanship of Mahamadou Issoufou. President of the Republic of Niger.
Buhari during the teleconference, was said to have called on fellow ECOWAS leaders to look beyond the challenges posed by the Coronavirus pandemic and tap into various opportunities that it presents for the betterment of lives in the Member States.
His words, “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.”
However, while calling on his colleagues to intensify collaboration in order to save the West African region from “this deadly pandemic through sharing our experiences and best practices,” Buhari outlined some measures taken by his government in response to the pandemic.
They are the 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.
Buhari noted other measures such as the provision of relief materials, including medical and food supplies, as well as conditional cash transfers of N20,000 each to poor and vulnerable households; and the establishment of more isolation centres and testing facilities to contain the spread of the deadly disease.