By Omololu Ogunmade
The European Union (EU) Tuesday in Abuja donated €50m, an equivalent of N21 billion, in support of Nigeria’s fight against COVID-19 to the excitement of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Leading a delegation to the State House for presentation of the donation to Buhari, Ambassador Kelti Karlsen described the fund, said to have been channelled through the UN COVID-19 basket fund, as the largest single contribution and support that EU is providing anywhere outside Europe.
According to the ambassador, the donation was a swift response to Nigeria’s call for assistance and a demonstration of EU’s partnership with Nigeria.
‘‘We heard your call for assistance and the EU has reacted swiftly as a demonstration of our true partnership,’’ he said.
A statement by the president’s media adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the EU Ambassador congratulated Buhari for ‘‘a very powerful address to the nation last night,’’ adding, ‘‘indeed, the current situation is no joke and we wish to commend you for taking bold and necessary measures.’’
According to Adesina, Karlsen also told Buhari that the EU was still mobilising other sources of funding, disclosing that the union had already paid €1.2 million to UNICEF while goods purchased through such funding are expected in the country soon.
Reacting to the donation, the president said it would go a long way in supporting Nigeria’s efforts at combating and containing the virus and equally assist in revitalising the national health care systems.
He also used the occasion to express the sincere condolences of both the government and people of Nigeria to EU-member countries and families who lost their loved ones as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Buhari said he was both grateful and touched that the EU still cared to remember and support its partners.
‘‘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 statement said the president also lauded the EU on the recent launch of the “Team Europe” package to support countries in the fight against Coronavirus pandemic and its consequences.
It added that the president further submitted that the intervention, which he described as a collaboration between the 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 this pandemic was controlled and contained.
The president was also said to have told the ambassador that the huge sum would help to save millions of lives and both Nigeria and Africa would remain grateful in several years to come.
‘‘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.
Buhari, the statement added, proceeded to provide the delegation with the update on the fight against COVID-19 in the country, assuring that Nigeria was united in the battle.
‘‘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.