Nigeria calls for more African collaboration to fight public health challenges, climate change

*VP receives ICAN delegation, commends new framework for public finance management

Nigeria has called for greater collaboration among Africans in order to more effectively confront challenges such as those in climate change, public health such as local vaccine production among others.

President Muhammadu Buhari made the call today at a meeting of the African Union on the New Partnership for African Development, NEPAD 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, SAN, at the virtual event, the President said the continent needs “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.”

According to the President, “the Covid19 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.”

Speaking further about Climate Change, the President said “we need far more energy than the renewables sources can immediately provide. Therefore, we 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.”

Reporting on the success made by Nigeria in domesticating the NEPAD framework on sustainable development, President Buhari noted that “growth in the Nigerian ICT sector has been phenomenal. Indeed, 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 added.

While commending the foresight of the founding Fathers of NEPAD, AU’s development agency and the continental initiative for the effective implementation of Agenda 2063, Buhari re-echoed the view that “NEPAD is about the development of our continent – delivering to African citizens. Let us look forward to working together in building a strong organisation for delivery of results on the continent.”

Meanwhile, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN had earlier 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.

The Vice President 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 the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).

Prof. Osinbajo believes that the ICAN Accountability Index will improve transparency and accountability in public finance management in Nigeria.

Said he “your public financial management efforts with the ICAN AI is an important innovation and initiative especially because what has happened in the past was that we were generally accessed for transparency, accountability and all of that by different systems that were usually foreign.”

“This (ICAN AI) is something that at least will give us our own local content to these kinds of assessment. It is something that we all need to support. I will do all I can to support the innovation,” the Vice President added.

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,” in reference to the idea of ‘ICAN on air.’

Recalling his ties with the accounting body as an examiner and lecturer over the years, the VP hoped that the proposed amendment to the Act establishing the institute would further advance the cause of public finance management as well as accounting practice in the country.

In her remarks, Mrs Eyitayo praised 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 realizable.”

Other ICAN officials present at the meeting were former President of the Institute, Sen. Kolawole Bajomo; ICAN Vice President, Mr Tijjani Musa Isa, and Registrar of the Institute, Prof Ahmed Kumshe, among others.

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