By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday commended the European Union for donating N21 billion (50 million Euros), to support Nigeria’s efforts at controlling the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The president made the commendation when he received the EU delegation to the country, led by Mr Ketil Karlsen, at the State House, Abuja.
President Buhari said that the donation would go a long way in supporting Nigeria’s efforts at controlling and containing the virus to prevent community spread.
“The money will also assist our efforts to revitalise the national health care systems,” Buhari said..
He also expressed Nigeria’s sincere condolences to the Government and people of EU-member countries and families who lost their loved ones as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘‘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 enable us to emerge stronger from this tragedy.
‘‘Although the EU is facing significant challenges due to this pandemic, I am indeed touched and grateful that the European Union still had the vision and foresight to remember its friends, partners and allies across the world,’’ he said.
The President also lauded EU on the recent launch of the “Team Europe” package to support countries in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and its consequences.
According to him, 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, will go a long way in ensuring that the impact of the pandemic is 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.
The President 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; by the grace of God and the continued support from our partners, we shall succeed,’’ he said.
In his remarks, Karlsen described the donation, channeled 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’’.
He said: ‘‘We heard your call for assistance and the EU has reacted swiftly as a demonstration of our true partnership.’’
The EU Ambassador congratulated the President for ‘‘a very powerful address to the nation last night.
‘‘Indeed, the current situation is no joke and we wish to commend you for taking bold and necessary measures,’’ he said.
He also announced that the EU was mobilising other sources of funding, noting that 1.2 million Euros had been paid to UNICEF, while goods bought through that funding are expected in the country soon.