President Muhammadu Buhari has advocated for safe and globally accessible COVID-19 vaccines as the world races to find a cure for the deadly pandemic. The President said Nigeria will continue to partner with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and some countries to ensure accelerated development, manufacturing, and effective supply of the vaccines to countries in need across the world.
Delivering Nigeria’s statement, via video-message, on the first day of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly debate, the Nigerian helmsman stated his readiness to work with member states in the spirit of global cooperation and solidarity to promote human health and general well-being. Buhari also pledged Nigeria’s readiness to work with bilateral and multilateral partners to realise the theme of this year’s General Assembly is ”The Future We Want, The United Nations We Need: Reaffirming Our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism- Confronting Coronavirus Through Effective Multilateral Action.”
He said ”As we reflect on the future we want and the United Nations we need, we must realise that the people of the world not only look up to us: they count on us. ”If the United Nations system cannot mobilise the world to marshal out a truly effective and inclusive response to the coronavirus pandemic, then the United Nations would have failed in the core mission of giving expression, direction and solution to the yearnings of the international community.
”The future we want must guarantee human rights, human dignity, human prospects and prosperity. The principles of ‘Leaving No One Behind and Doing No Harm’ must be expressed through accountability, strategic growth initiatives and elimination of threats of all kinds,” he said.
President Buhari noted that in the quest to provide a future of hope and prosperity for all Nigerians, his administration had embarked on measures to ensure national resilience. ”We intend to achieve this through the implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan and the Medium Term National Development for the period 2020-2025 and 2026-2030. We expect that these ambitious initiatives will deliver sustainable economic growth and development to Nigeria,” he said.
On the need for collective global efforts to confront and defeat the dreaded COVID pandemic, the Nigerian leader emphasised the need for effective multilateral actions, just as he expressed concern that the pandemic has devastated the world economy, straining the capabilities of the health systems of many countries, including Nigeria.
”In the aftermath of the Coronavirus outbreak in Nigeria, we prioritised vulnerable groups, including women, children, older persons and the unemployed, in our efforts to provide medical and social assistance to cushion the socio-economic effects of the disease.
”Accordingly, we have expanded our National Social Register, to include an additional 1 million Nigerians. Our National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) has been the vehicle for reaching out to the poor and vulnerable members of the Nigerian population, as well as providing cover for over 12 million households,” he said.
Commending the efforts of the UN and the WHO in combating the pandemic, President Buhari noted with appreciation the 2 billion dollars Global Response Plan launched by the UN Secretary-General to fund the coronavirus response in the poorest countries.
The President also commended the Secretary-General’s call for a cease-fire in conflict areas to enable humanitarian assistance reach groups vulnerable to Coronavirus. The Nigerian leader also spoke on how Nigeria, which is the country with the highest concentration of extremely poor people in the world is responding to the challenge of the further devastating impacts of COVID-19 on the economy. Buhari said in order to mitigate the devastating impact of the pandemic on the economy, his administration had commenced the disbursement of N10.9 billion to households on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises as palliatives. He said a N500 billion fiscal stimulus package and sustained delivery of humanitarian and social interventions to poor and vulnerable households have been established, just as he listed the N3.5 trillion-stimulus package to boost manufacturing and facilitate import substitution as put in place by Central Bank of Nigeria.