Member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have appointed Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari as the coordinator of the sub-regions’ response to coronavirus.
“ECOWAS leaders at an extraordinary summit held by video conference have appointed President Muhammadu Buhari as Champion that will coordinate the COVID-19 response in the sub-region,” Nigeria’s presidential spokesman Femi Adesina tweeted on Thursday.
Adesina expressed optimism that “all the other Presidents will be available to support President Buhari.”
Before Buhari’s appointment, ECOWAS leaders had deliberated on the effects of coronavirus which has halted economic and normal activities in their countries during a summit held via video conference.
During his opening remarks, chairman of the ECOWAS and President of Niger Republic, Mahamadou Issoufou, lamented about the effects of the deadly virus on the people and economies of the member-states.
Issoufou called for collaborative efforts among the member-states to combat the pandemic, which he, said had already claimed many lives in the region.
The Nigerien president, who spoke in the French language, also advocated for total debts cancellation for African countries to enable the African continent to survive the post-coronavirus era.
Currently, Africa has over 25,600 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the continent, with a number of countries imposing a range of prevention and containment measures against the spread of the pandemic.
The latest data by the John Hopkins University and Africa Center for Disease Control on COVID-19 in Africa said only two countries- Lesotho and Comoros are without a confirmed case of coronavirus as of April 23.
ECOWAS countries in West Africa region- the Benin Republic with 54 coronavirus cases, Burkina Faso 609, Cape Verde 73, Cote D’Ivoire 952, The Gambia 10, Ghana 1,154, Guinea 761, Guinea Bissau 50, Libera 101, Mali 293, Niger 662, Nigeria 873, Senegal 442, Sierra Leone 61 and Togo with 88 cases have all implemented different measures including social distancing, stay-at-home order curfews, travel bans and lockdown in key regions and cities to curb the pandemic.