By Oludare Mayowa
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday in New York urged world leaders, particularly the G20 countries to extend its debt suspension initiatives to all developing countries, Least Developed Countries, Small Island Developing States facing fiscal and liquidity challenges.
President Buhari in his speech at the ongoing United Nation General Assembly also called for or outright debt cancellation for countries facing the most severe challenges.
“Developing countries have been faced with unsustainable debt burdens even before the pandemic
“The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of 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.
“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.”
He also urged the world leaders at the assembly to rally support against the recent trend of unconstitutional takeover of power, sometimes in reaction to unilateral changes of constitutions by some leaders in Africa.
In his speech at the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly, the President warned that democratic gains of the past decades in West Africa ‘‘are now being eroded’’ due to these negative trends.
He affirmed Nigeria’s support to efforts by ECOWAS, AU and the UN to address this growing challenge.
“As leaders of our individual Member-States we need to adhere to the constitutional provisions of our countries, particularly on term limits. This is one area that generates crisis and political tension in our sub-region,” the president said.
The President urged the international community not only to deal with the symptoms of conflict but also the immediate causes that fuel conflicts in the first place.
“These include poor and undemocratic governance, human rights abuses, poverty, ignorance, injustice and inequalities.
“There are no easy solutions to these conditions. They require long term investments and more effective international cooperation. In this connection, my delegation underscores the importance of promoting peaceful, unfettered, and inclusive participation of states in global actions towards conflict prevention.
“This will facilitate the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union Agenda 2063.”
The President also used the occasion of the speech to renew his advocacy for equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, outlining steps Nigeria has taken to achieve ‘‘moderate success’’ in containing the virus and halt its deadly onslaught in the country.
‘‘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, European Union, and others for the vaccines provided.
‘‘Despite the acknowledgement 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 prolonged shutdown. It is imperative to underscore that no one is safe until everyone is safe,’’ he said.