President Muhammadu Buhari called to affluent countries and international financial institutions on Friday in New York for full debt forgiveness for countries suffering the most serious problems in the aftermath of the COVID-19 epidemic, which decimated economies throughout the world.
Buhari encouraged G20 nations to extend their debt suspension measures to all developing countries, least developed countries, and small island developing states experiencing budgetary and liquidity problems in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly’s 76th Session.
According to President Buhari:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of the new wave of deepening debt, where vital public financial resources are allocated to external debt servicing and repayments, at the expense of domestic health and financing for critical developmental needs.
‘Developing countries have been faced with unsustainable debt burdens even before the pandemic.
He added that,
‘‘I must commend the current initiatives by the international financial institutions and the G20 aimed at significantly mitigating the economic situation of the indebted countries and urge for more efforts in this regard.
‘‘Therefore, there is an urgent need to consider expansion and extension of the debt service suspension initiative to include all developing, least developed countries and small island developing states facing fiscal and liquidity challenges.
‘‘In addition, a review of the eligibility criteria for debt suspension, including outright cancellation, is needed for countries facing the most severe challenges.”
President Muhammadu Buhari also called for international trade changes to help the country recover from the COVID-19 crisis, create resilience to future shocks, and pursue transformational development policies that would help the country achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
“Nigeria reaffirms that international trade is an engine for development and sustained economic growth, as well as the global eradication of poverty.
‘‘My delegation would like to reaffirm the critical role that a universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system can play in stimulating economic growth and development.
He added that,
‘‘Fair and equitable trade would eventually eliminate the need for aid.
‘‘My country and indeed all African countries do not intend to stay indefinitely looking for aid. All we need is a fair and equitable system of international trade,’’
Concerning covid 19 and vaccination taking place currently all over the world, He had this to say,
‘Nigeria remains grateful for the assistance received from our partners and friends all over the world. Vaccination is the key to our safe emergence from the pandemic.
‘‘We fully support the COVAX initiative from which we have benefitted. We also thank the United States of America, Turkey, India, China, the European Union, and others for the vaccines provided.
‘‘Despite the acknowledgment, however, I would like to reiterate my call for a fairer and more equitable distribution of vaccines to all countries so that, together, we can fight and contain the pandemic.
‘‘The rising wave of newer and more contagious strains, makes this even more urgent. No country can afford the socio-economic implications of a prolonged shutdown. It is imperative to underscore that no one is safe until everyone is safe.’’
He added that.
‘‘In this connection, from a mere four laboratories with testing and detection capacities, we ramped up the facilities to over 140 centers today.
‘‘Similarly, we built isolation centers and emergency hospital wards in record time all over the country. We carry out genomic sequencing in designated laboratories across the country with a view to detecting variants in circulation.
‘‘In addition, over 40,000 health care workers have recently been trained on Infection, Prevention and Control measure with the support of various partners.
‘‘Through the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, we have established 16 infectious disease treatment centers located within our Teaching Hospitals and Federal Medical Centres”
In the war against terrorism, Buhari informed the United Nations General Assembly that Nigeria’s security services had achieved significant progress.
‘‘As a result of the renewed vigor of Nigeria’s military, many terrorist fighters are voluntarily surrendering to our security forces,’’
‘‘Nigeria will continue to work closely with the UN Counter-Terrorism bodies and entities with a view to bringing this scourge to an end, ’’
Furthermore, Nigeria would make every effort to confront the terrorism threats posed by Boko Haram’s operations in North-East Nigeria and the Lake Chad area, as well as banditry in the northwest and north-central parts of the country.