Nigeria has called for greater collaboration among Africans to effectively confront challenges such as climate change, public health, local vaccine production, among others.
Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, in a statement, said that President Muhammadu Buhari made the call on Wednesday in Abuja.
Buhari spoke at a meeting of the African Union (AU) on the New Partnership for African Development(NEPAD).
The meeting was under the auspices of the 39th Session of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee (HSGOC), at the margins of the 35th Ordinary Session of the African Union.
Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the virtual event, Buhari said the continent needed to brace up for wider cooperation in public heath.
“To prepare itself more for intra African collaboration to fight public health challenges, work together to promote vaccine production in Africa, and prompt response to climate change and the zero-emissions targets.
“The COCID-19 pandemic has severely weakened our economies but it has also left important lessons.
“One is that Africa needs to prepare itself more for intra African collaboration to fight public health challenges, especially those of pandemic scale.
“We must work together to promote vaccine production in Africa; second issue I would like to raise is Africa’s response to climate change and the zero-emissions targets set in Paris and at subsequent climate change meetings.
“We must of course contribute our quota in protecting the environment and preventing climate change; but we must also continue to build sustainable power systems to accelerate development and create economic opportunities for our people.”
On climate change, the president said Africa needs far more energy than the renewables sources could immediately provide.
According to him, Africa cannot but adopt gas as a transition fuel.
“We must together make clear to the developed world that the current trend of withholding funds for investment in gas development is the wrong thing to do at this time.”
On the success made by Nigeria in domesticating the NEPAD framework on sustainable development, Buhari said that growth in the Nigerian ICT sector had been phenomenal.
He said that ICT recorded the highest growth of all the sectors of the Nigerian economy in 2020.
“By intensifying Agricultural development, NEPAD inspired Home Grown School Feeding and other Social Intervention Programmes, we are feeding over nine million children in public schools daily and significantly improving the lot of our people.
“It is worthy of note that through regional partnership, Nigeria is currently implementing the innovative strengthening of smallholder farmer’s capabilities towards productive land restoration amid COVID-19 in Nigeria.”
“This is not only to cushion the effect of COVID-19 in the country but also to accelerate the implementation of Africa’s regional initiative to restore degraded lands.”
The president commended the foresight of the founding Fathers of NEPAD, AU’s development agency and the continental initiative for the effective implementation of Agenda 2063.
He re-echoed the view that NEPAD was about the development of the continent – delivering to African citizens.
“Let us look forward to working together in building a strong organisation for delivery of results on the continent,” Buhari said.
The vice president, in another development, received a delegation from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) led by its President, Mrs Comfort Eyitayo, on a courtesy visit to the Presidential Villa.
He commended the adoption of the new, innovative framework for public finance management known as the ICAN-AI (ICAN Accountability Index) and noted the proposed amendment to the Act establishing ICAN.
The vice president expressed delight with the progress of the accounting body.
“I am personally very happy to see that ICAN has grown from strength to strength, and I am particularly fascinated by some of what we are seeing especially forays into public education,” he said.
In her remarks, Eyitayo lauded the Federal Government’s consistent drive to revamp the country’s budget system, aligning with international best practice of having a January to December budget year and having Finance Acts to make the Appropriation Act more realisable.
Other ICAN officials present at the meeting included a former President of the Institute, Sen. Kolawole Bajomo; ICAN Vice President, Mr Tijjani Isa and Registrar of the Institute, Prof. Ahmed Kumshe, among others.