Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has advocated for an even distribution of COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they are available so it can effectively curb the spread of coronavirus.
In a statement on Saturday, spokesman to the vice president, Laolu Akande said Osibanjo made the appeal at the virtual 2020 EURAFRICA Forum.
The forum with the theme, “Towards a Realistic Euro-African Partnership During and Beyond the COVID-19 Era”, featured presentations from notable global leaders, including the UN Secretary-General, Mr Antonio Guterres and the Prime Minister of Cape Verde, Mr Ulisses Correia Silva.
The EurAfrican Forum aims to foster stronger collaboration between Europe and Africa, and better promote a shared green and inclusive growth, among other objectives.
He said, “Europe should work closely with Africa to ensure that when a vaccine is finally deployed it should not be on the basis of the highest bidder but rather be made available at an affordable and in an accessible manner.
“This is a matter that should not be taken for granted. We saw during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, in richer parts of the world, that orders for test kits and reagents by African countries were deemed too small and tended to be ignored.”
“Although Nigeria does not have the resources or means to pre-pay for a COVID-19 vaccine, we are fortunate to be a GAVI supported country and we urge the EU to lend support to GAVI’s effort to ensure equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines under the COVAX initiative. This way, poorer countries and their citizens will get the vaccines that they need at the same time as the rest of the world.”
A global crisis calls for global partnerships. If COVID-19 exists in any part of the world, it remains a significant threat to every part of the world.
“The partnership between Africa and the European Union is a good platform for both sides to work together on economic recovery and rebuilding of health systems. It is also equally important that we become even stronger advocates for closer international cooperation to tackle the fall out of COVID-19.”
He also spoke about Nigeria’s efforts in mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, noting that Nigeria’s “priority is to ward off a deep recession.”
“We developed an Economic Sustainability Plan consisting of measures to support local businesses, retain and create jobs, and to improve the circumstances of the most vulnerable.
“The Plan bolsters our health interventions and promotes the use of labour-intensive methods in key areas like agriculture, light manufacturing, housing, and facilities management.
“We continue to experience huge financing gaps, huge debt servicing obligations, and foreign exchange shortages. It is clear then that we need all the help we can get.
“The Debt Servicing Support Initiative of the G20 is welcome and will no doubt bring some relief to relevant African countries. However, it remains inadequate because it does not address the problem of commercial debt service obligations.”
Continuing, he said “the share of commercial debt is almost two-thirds of debt service in Africa so any debt relief arrangement not involving this segment is unlikely to succeed.
“Getting relief on commercial debt servicing will require the cooperation of bondholders and rating agencies which is why the African Union Special Envoys on COVID-19 are engaging with them actively. Nigeria calls on the EU to lend its weight to this initiative which is very important for Africa.”