By Samson Yaki

The Presidents of Niger and Benin Republic, Mahamadou Issoufou  and Patrice Talon, have said that the spade of lockdown across the world as a result of the COVID -19 Pandemic is detrimental to African society, noting that the lockdowns are not Africa-friendly as the continent stood to lose more from it.

Issoufou, while discussing the overall impact of the pandemic on Africa, called for a “Marshall Plan” from the international community to help African countries face the unprecedented health crisis.

President Patrice Talon of Benin Republic had also taken the same line that Benin would not resort to lockdowns for particular reasons, of which the Nigerien president  concurred that  ‘President Talon is exactly right’.

“What we can see is that even the most developed countries are overwhelmed, so we need to be even more prepared because we will be even more affected by this crisis because our medical systems are more fragile than that of those other countries.

“And that is why we have expressed our need for international support to be able to deal with this crisis. We need more support from other countries around the world. This is what we can see from globalization, because of that, the world we are living in now is a truly a global village.

“What started in China is now concerning countries like ours, Niger; and all other countries in the world. This is what I call the butterfly effect and this is an exacerbated form of the butterfly effect where one thing happens somewhere in the world and the effect can be felt everywhere.

“This is going to push us into a new paradigm especially in terms of political and economic governance around the world. We need more solidarity, we need more equality. Because in this world, we are all in the same boat and if that boat sinks, then we will all sink with it”, Issoufou said.

Turning to the French presence in the Sahel region, Niger’s president insisted he did not fear a French military withdrawal over the pandemic, despite the first four cases of coronavirus being detected penultimate week among the French troops of Operation Barkhane. Issoufou said he was convinced that Paris was committed to the fight against terrorist groups.

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