President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday commended the European Union for donating the sum of N21billion (50 million Euros) to support Nigeria’s efforts at controlling the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Receiving the EU delegation to the country led by Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, President Buhari said the donation would go a long way in supporting Nigeria’s efforts at controlling and containing the virus to prevent community spread, as well as revitalise the national health care systems.

The president consoled 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.

He said, “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”.

The President also lauded EU on the recent launch of the “Team Europe” package to support countries in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and its consequences.

Buhari noted that the intervention, which is a collaboration between 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.

‘‘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”.

The President told the delegation that his administration had done a lot to date in the fight against COVID-19.

‘‘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.

In his remarks, Ambassador Karlsen described the donation, channelled through the UN COVID-19 basket fund as, so far, the largest single contribution to the response in Nigeria and the largest support that EU is providing anywhere outside Europe.

‘‘We heard your call for assistance and the EU has reacted swiftly as a demonstration of our true partnership,’’ he said.

The EU Ambassador congratulated the President for ‘‘a very powerful address to the nation last night’’, stressing ‘‘indeed the current situation is no joke and we wish to commend you for taking bold and necessary measures.’’

He also announced that the Union was mobilising other sources of funding, noting that they have already paid 1.2 million Euros to UNICEF, and goods purchased through that funding are expected in the country soon.

EU’s funding for Nigeria is aimed at ensuring optimum care for the confirmed cases of the virus, while containing further spread through an inclusive, national response.

Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen stressed that “COVID-19 must be fought globally.

She said the EU support is focused on the people most at risk, adding that Africa and Nigeria are vital priorities, and must not be forgotten or left alone. “Now more than ever we want to show solidarity with our partners,” she stated.

She continued: “The funding will be channeled through the One UN COVID-19 Basket Fund launched in concert with the Nigerian authorities during the week.

“The EU intervention will focus on the 10 key pillars of the National COVID-19 Response Plan, including coordination, socio-economic measures, such as cash transfers or food distribution to vulnerable groups, scaling up surveillance, testing, isolation, contact tracing, personal protection equipment for medical staff, disinfectants for medical facilities, risk communication, community engagement, clinical management of the critically unwell COVID-19 patients”.

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