BUA Group of Companies and the Coalition Against COVID-19, CACOVID, a private sector group of which BUA is a member, are currently locked in a fight over who should procure vaccines for the virus to assist the federal government.
While BUA asked CACOVID to stop playing politics with the lives of Nigerians, following opposition to its payment for one million doses of the vaccines, CACOVID on its part, issued a disclaimer on the company, discrediting the payment.
BUA had in a statement issued on Monday, announced that it had secured one million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine through the AfreximBank vaccine programme in partnership with CACOVID.
The company added that the vaccine doses, which it said would arrive the country next week, would be distributed to Nigerians at no cost.
But in a statement by CACOVID operations committee, the coalition said BUA cannot singlehanded secure the doses, adding that purchase of the vaccine could not be done by individuals or companies, but only through the Federal Government.
Also speaking on ARISE TV yesterday, Zouera Youssofou, CACOVID coordinator, said while payment was indeed made for the vaccines, it cannot be attributed to a single person or company.
She explained that the payment for the vaccines was taken from a pool of funds donated by different CACOVID members.
“He also told us that there was an extra 1 million doses that we could get if we confirmed that we wanted those doses immediately by February 8. And so we agreed that we would bring it to the meeting the very next day which happened.
“What is important to note is that Afreximbank, after that call, already secured those doses for Nigeria because they had the confirmation from both the CBN, Aliko Dangote and Herbert Wigwe that they would pay for these million doses.
“Nobody is disputing a transfer into Central Bank’s account. The challenge is a claim that one company has brought vaccines into Nigeria because that is not factual.”
Youssofou further said it is not possible for all the one million doses to arrive in Nigeria by next week.
She added that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) was yet to give approval for the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines in Nigeria.
“It is not possible to have one million doses of vaccine dumped into Nigeria in one day. They get delivered at a specific pace,” she said.
Reacting to the development, BUA, in another statement, asked CACOVID to stop playing games with Nigerians’ lives.
The group said Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, announced at a meeting that CACOVID had been given the opportunity, through the Afrexim platform to access and pay for one million doses of vaccine, provided payment was made on Monday or Tuesday.
BUA said while other CACOVID members refused to offer the donation to secure the vaccine, it offered to do so by making a payment of $3,450,000,000, which is N1.311 billion, to the CBN.
“BUA receives with utter shock, reports allegedly attributed to CACOVID, disowning its earlier payment through CACOVID for 1 million AstraZena doses for Nigeria via the AFREXIM vaccine platform.
“At the CACOVID steering committee meeting held February 8, 2021 (of which BUA is a member), members were informed by the CBN Governor that CACOVID had been given the opportunity through the Afrexim Platform to access and pay for 1 million dose, provided payment was made today or tomorrow failure which the opportunity to get those doses next week may be lost.
“After extensive deliberation, there was no agreement reached and despite members being offered the opportunity to donate funds towards procuring the doses, none offered. BUA then took it upon itself to offer to pay for the 1million doses at the agreed rate of US$3.45 per dose totaling US$3,450,000,000.00 which translates to N1.311 billion.”
BUA said the disclaimer by CACOVID operations committee shows that “some members of CACOVID were not happy that BUA took this initiative in the interest of Nigeria and to ensure that the deadline was met to receive the 1 million doses of the vaccine next week.”
It alleged that a prominent member of CACOVID is not happy with the donation, but added that this is no time for politics.
“BUA did this gesture in good faith as it has done with its interventions throughout the pandemic. We will however like to state clearly that we are aware that a prominent member of CACOVID is not happy that BUA took the initiative to pay for the vaccines – fulfilling our pledge just as we said during the meeting. Now they want to scuttle it by this action because they were unable to take the initiative.
”This is no time for politics. It is time for us to come together to help Nigerians and it does not matter who is helping or paying,” it sad.