Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has lauded the European Union (EU) for donating €50 million (about N21 billion) to support Nigeria’s efforts in controlling the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Buhari gave the commendation when he received the EU’s delegation to Nigeria, led by Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, at the State House, Abuja, yesterday.
A statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, quoted Buhari as saying the donation would go a long way in supporting Nigeria’s efforts at controlling and containing COVID-19 and to prevent its spread into communities as well as revitalise the national health care system.
He also expressed the condolences of the government and people of Nigeria to EU-member countries and families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends and communities impacted. We are confident from history that the resilience of Europe and our global collective will would enable us to emerge stronger from this tragedy. Although Europe is facing significant challenges due to this pandemic, I am indeed touched and grateful that the EU still had the vision and foresight to remember its friends, partners and allies across the world,” he said.
President Buhari also lauded the EU on the recent launch of the “Team Europe” package to support countries in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and its consequences.
He said the intervention, which is a collaboration between EU, its member states, and financial institutions such as the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, would go a long way in ensuring the impact of the pandemic was controlled and contained.
“Indeed, this brotherly support will save millions of lives. Nigeria, Africa and many beneficiary countries across the world will remain grateful for generations to come,” he said.
He told the delegation that his administration had done a lot to date in the fight against COVID-19.
‘‘So far, the number of confirmed cases in Nigeria is 343. Our efforts as a government have focused on controlling and containing the virus to prevent community spread. I want to assure you that, in this fight, Nigerians are united and, by the grace of God, and the continued support from our partners, we shall succeed,” he said.
Karlsen described the donation, channelled through the UN COVID-19 basket fund as, so far, the largest single contribution to the response in Nigeria and the largest support that EU is providing anywhere outside Europe.
“We heard your call for assistance and the EU has reacted swiftly as a demonstration of our true partnership,” he said.
The EU ambassador congratulated the President for “a very powerful address to the nation last night,” stressing ‘‘indeed the current situation is no joke and we wish to commend you for taking bold and necessary measures.”
He also announced that the union was mobilising other sources of funding, noting that they had already paid €1.2 million to UNICEF, and goods purchased through that funding were expected in the country soon.