By Vera Samuel Anyagafu
Following President Donald Trump’s telephone conversation with President Muhammadu Buhari on efforts to defeat Covid-19 in Nigeria, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Berth Leonard has restated the United States government’s promise to stand in solidarity with Nigeria to defeat the deadly virus.
Ambassador Berth who said this at a teleconference with journalists, Tuesday May 12, 2020, stated that President Buhari was the first African Head of State that President Donald Trump spoke with on issues concerning the deadly virus that is ravaging the world noting that the US government is very pleased to work with Nigeria to see the end of the pandemic.
She also disclosed that about 237 million USD had been expended on Covid-19 activities with Africa continent and about 32.8 million USD already spent in Nigeria to fight the virus, adding that the US government, in over 20 years, had spent some amount of dollars, part of which had been spent on health in Nigeria.
“There is more in the pipeline, almost a comfortable sum; as we think about the different ways we can partner with Nigeria. This of course is in addition to our regular assistance towards health. Also, infrastructure built with the amount had turned out to be usable during this Covid-19 pandemic, “she noted.
The Ambassador however commended the incredible efforts by the Federal government of Nigeria in fighting spread of the virus, saying that, “I think Nigeria is really to be commended for the incredible mobilisation that it has done with its resources in order to fight against Covid-19. It is a difficult situation in every country and the US government is standing with Nigeria in the fight.’’
She also applauded efforts by other international partners, organisations and countries in the way they are participating in the fight to end the virus across the globe saying that, “It is a hard job; it is a complicated job and the more we do it together, the better we would all succeed.
“We need to succeed together but again as I said earlier, this isn’t something that countries can’t address in isolation. It’s a virus, it doesn’t know borders and so we all have to work together.’’
Ambassador Berth also noted that the US government through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Department of State had new funding for Nigeria for the prevention and mitigation of the novel coronavirus, stressing that the US is leading the world’s humanitarian and health response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the assistance is rolling out gradually to support critical activities to control the spread.
Two early examples of USAID assistance the Envoy stated, include support to Nigeria’s Center for Disease Control in sending out a million SMS messages a day to Nigerians and door to door visit to prevent outbreaks, mostly at vulnerable areas in the country.
While also advising on maintaining the protocols to eradicating the virus, Ambassador Berth said the US Mission in Nigeria remains committed to working closely with the government of Nigeria and its health authorities to keep everyone healthy and safe amid the Covid-19 pandemic and do not know precisely when the Mission will resume visa operations in the country.