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Buhari seeks outright debt cancellation for Nigeria, others from IMF, World Bank

“Within the spirit of South-South cooperation, we must also assist one another, particularly the less developed and less endowed member states with technical, medical, and financial assistance. It is by so doing that we can rightly claim to uphold the Bandung Principles of equality, mutual interests, and cooperation.’’ President Muhammadu Buhari has said

President Buhari made this known on Monday in Abuja while speaking during a teleconference and online Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Contact Group Meeting in response to COVID-19 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.

The meeting with the theme; ”United Against COVID-19”, was presided over by President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and current Chair of the NAM, Mr IIham Aliyev.

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Buhari speaking said: “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.

“Since the outbreak of the disease, countries have made concerted efforts to limit the spread of the pandemic within and outside their borders as well as treating those infected by the virus.

“Two weeks ago, we in West Africa came together to work out a common sub-regional response to the crisis. The summit appointed me the Champion to lead our efforts on fighting the pandemic in our region,”

“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.’’

He also told Heads of State and Government 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.

In his opening speech, Aliyev thanked the member countries of NAM for unanimously endorsing the global fight against COVID-19 to protect humanity from destruction.

He revealed that already Azerbaijan had donated 5 million dollars to the World Health organisation (WHO) to help combat the deadly Coronavirus disease.

According to him, Azerbaijan on its part has introduced several measures including special quarantine region which has extended to May 31 to stop the spread of Coronavirus in the country.

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He also disclosed that the country had earmarked 3.5 billion dollars for the implementation of the country’s social interventions programmes, while tax holidays had also been offered to some companies to cushion the negative impacts of the deadly virus.

Aliyev commended the World Health Organisation and the United Nations for their collaborative support in the global fight against Coronavirus.

He pledged that NAM would continue to share ideas and information with all stakeholders to combat the pandemic.

The President of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, who also participated in the teleconference, reiterated the commitment of the UN in the efforts to finding solutions to the deadly Coronavirus.

While noting that the virus has disrupted economies of many nations across the world, Muhammad-Bande commended member countries of the NAM for their joint efforts in the fight against the pandemic.

He however, enjoined them to continue to build stronger economies that would address the difficulties being experienced by their respective citizens.

In a video message to the event, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, noted with concern that the virus had so far inflicted serious damages humanity and economies of the world.

He however, stressed the need to sustain global solidarity against the novel Coronavirus.

In his remarks, the Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, described the NAM Summit on COVID-19 as a welcome development as ”no country can manage the Corona allow.”

According to him, national unity, global solidarity and commitment to peace are vital in the fight against the virus.

”COVID-19 has affected all segments of the society- all countries must work together to ensure that no one is left behind,” he said

In his contribution, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, lauded China and Cuba for sending medical equipment to Africa to combat the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.

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Ihesiulo Grace

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