As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the world, ECOWAS Heads of States and Governments have come together and unanimously appointed Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, as the Champion of COVID-19 response. According to experts, the appointment has been attributed to the efforts of the Nigerian government at flattening the COVID-19 curve. These efforts are not only evident in the number of recovered cases but also in the efforts of Nigerian frontline health workers, donors, PTF on COVID-19, as well as the mode of operation in handling the pandemic.
The President while responding to the appointment highlighted some of the processes which Nigeria have employed in responding to the pandemic; such as reduction of interest on all interventions and introduction of a one-year moratorium on intervention facilities all under the CBN as well as the inauguration of Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 to coordinate all national efforts aimed at limiting the spread of the virus among other measures.
The Extraordinary ECOWAS Summit on COVID-19 which was conducted via videoconferencing was convened by the ECOWAS Chairman and President of the Republic of Niger, His Excellency, Mahamadou Issoufou. The communiqué of the meeting asserted that, as champion, President Buhari will coordinate the COVID-19 response and eradication process in the African sub region.
President Buhari rightly pointed out in his speech during the conference that something good can come out of this pandemic. “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”
The Nigerian leader went on to urge other African leaders to change the way they do things. “It is imperative that while addressing short term challenges, we should also explore opportunities to promote strong and dynamic agricultural policies that will guarantee food security for our people, creating jobs and reducing poverty in the region. We must innovate and use technology to boost the digital economy and do things differently, but better,” he advised.
As the pandemic tests the past and present competence of governments and bears open most of the shortcomings of the African continent and that of other nations, experts hope that lessons learnt during these challenges will indeed change the way Africa and its leaders will operate post-COVID-19.