STATEMENT BY H.E. MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA DURING CHINA-AFRICA EXTRAORDINARY SUMMIT ON SOLIDARITY AGAINST THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC ON WEDNESDAY 17TH JUNE, 2020
Your Excellency, Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China and Chair of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC);
Your Excellency, Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa and Chair of the African Union;
Your Excellency, Macky Sall, President of Senegal and the co-Chair of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC);
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government; Heads of International Organizations;
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen.
Let me start by expressing my sincere appreciation to the Presidents of China, South Africa and Senegal, for initiating and convening this Extraordinary Summit, to bring Member-States of FOCAC together in solidarity against COVID-19.
2. Today, the world is at critical crossroads. Our countries have been hit hard by the tragedy of the Coronavirus pandemic. In a bid to contain the spread of the disease, we have had to mobilize energy and resources to equip healthcare providers for an adequate response to the challenges of the virus. Our countries are also exploring avenues availed by the global partnership to bring an end to the pandemic.
3. At this point, I wish to acknowledge the support of the Chinese government, under the leadership of His Excellency, President Xi Jinping, for the considerable assistance extended to Africa and, in particular, to Nigeria.
4. This has tremendously strengthened our effort in combating Covid-19 during these difficult times. President Xi’s strong support has also further demonstrated the spirit of solidarity and enhanced the bond of partnership that already exist among FOCAC Member-States.
5. From the onset of the pandemic, we in Nigeria instituted strong surveillance and infection prevention as well as control measures and made provisions to strengthen our testing capacities.
6. Several well-equipped treatment and isolation centres were set up across the country to increase bed capacity. In the spirit of international collaboration, medical experts in Nigeria participated by video link in learning and experience-sharing exercises organized by experts from various countries, including China.
7. Furthermore, our Government has trained several thousand healthcare workers, provided Personal Protective Equipment to ensure the safety of frontline workers, and offered incentives for their motivation.
8. With regard to restrictions in movements occasioned by the need to contain the spread of the disease, we created the enabling environment for farmers to safely plant and harvest during this rainy season in order to ensure that our food security is not compromised.
9. In addition, we took steps for prompt transportation of agricultural products and food items from rural production areas to the consumers and to industrial processing zones.
10. We have also developed practical policies to protect lives and livelihoods at the same time and to ensure our economy continues to function as we maintain an aggressive response to the pandemic.
11. The COVID-19 outbreak is a clear wake-up call for all of humanity. The Health Systems of many nations have been severely tested by the outbreak of this disease, that most resorted to unprecedented executive measures of closing borders and locking down cities, to restrict movements and commerce. The immediate socio-economic disruptions have been hard to cope with for many, and others suffered devastating effects.
12. As we face a common pervasive and invisible enemy, it is important that we all remain united to save our shared humanity, because this virus knows no borders. The fight against a global pandemic that continues to take so many lives, threaten livelihoods and challenging the very fabric of societies, requires enhanced cooperation and worldwide solidarity.
13. I, therefore, commend the UN Secretary-General, H.E. António Guterres, for launching a COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund for low and middle-income countries to tackle the health emergency, address social and economic consequences of the crisis and, strengthen the recovery efforts of most vulnerable countries.
14. I also commend the World Health Organization and its leadership from whose advise Nigeria was able to take measures and enlighten its people on steps to take to avoid contracting and spreading the virus.
15. I seize this opportunity to reiterate the need for this Summit to put humanity at the centre of our vision for common prosperity. We must learn lessons and share knowledge from research, as we develop more creative, responsive and humane health systems, improve crisis management protocols and support each other in the battle against Covid-19.
16. Nigeria supports and would join any joint and collective action plan at regional and global levels to tackle this pandemic and its fallout. In these endeavours, we must not fail because the lives and livelihood of our peoples depend on our collective efforts.
I thank you.