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AU seeks debt forgiveness for Nigeria over COVID-19


Gates Foundation donates $150m as group urges probity
The African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council (AU ECOSOCC) Nigeria office has urged China, France, Japan and India to write off Nigeria’s debt or allow a two-year moratorium on repayments.
It also commended the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for granting a relief to 25 nations under its Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT) to tackle the novel coronavirus.
The AU agency’s Nigeria Representative, Oba Olasunkanmi, in a statement yesterday in Abuja, explained that as major lenders, they should follow suit by giving similar reprieve to the Federal Government to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Certainly, this will further assist the benefiting countries to significantly cushion the impact of the dreaded disease on their economies. Nigeria, at this time, needs support to enable it recover from the financial impact.”

The organisation noted that it would be difficult for the nation to service the debts in the face of the economic realities imposed by the virus, as the United Nations had projected that the world would need $1 trillion for continual existence.
AU went on: “Nigeria needs China’s support at this trying time, with the long and fruitful bilateral relationship between both countries which has led to Nigerian government owing China the debt of about $3.2 billion.
“We are being faithful in payment of servicing charges. In 2019, Nigeria paid $138.8 million (N53.7billion) to EXIM Bank of China in settlement, the highest amount paid to any bilateral institution for the year.”

Besides, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) has called on world leaders to unite in the global response to COVID-19 to ensure equitable access to diagnostics, treatments and vaccines. 
Consequently, the organisation has extended its the global response to the scourge COVID-19 through the release of an additional $150 million grant to leverage the foundation’s Strategic Investment Fund to catalyse rapid procurement of essential medical supplies. 

In a statement yesterday, the foundation’s co-chair, Melinda Gates, observed that the world’s response to the pandemic would not be effective unless equitable. 

Meanwhile, the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) have called on the Federal Government and its agencies to observe always probity in the disbursement of palliatives to alleviate the hardship necessitated by the lockdown.

It regretted that in the midst of the billions of naira earmarked by government in addition to the donations from the private sector, millions of households were yet to benefit from the succour.  

The national coordinator, Chino Obiagwu, maintained that Nigerians were legitimately entitled to know the details of beneficiaries and the quantum of disbursements.


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