By Megito Audu
The private sector-led Coalition against COVID-19 (CACOVID) and Abdul Samad Rabiu led BUA Group has been trading words over the purchase of Covid-19 vaccine.
In a statement issued earlier on Monday, 8 February, 2021, the BUA Group had 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 would be distributed to Nigerians at no cost.
But in a controversial counter statement, CACOVID disowned the statement by the BUA group.
In a statement by the CACOVID Operations Committee, the coalition denied that BUA would singlehandedly secure the doses, adding that purchase of the vaccine cannot be done by individuals or companies, but only through the Federal Government.
According to CACOVID, the agreement was that $100 million would be contributed for the purchase of one million doses, in order to ensure that Nigeria meets up with the February 8 deadline for the down payment on the first tranche.
“CACOVID is dismayed to learn of reports on social media today alleging that BUA is singlehandedly purchasing 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for Nigeria. Alhaji Rabiu Abdulsamad must have been misquoted because these claims are not factual as CACOVID operates on a collegiate fund contribution model. There is no agreement between BUA, CACOVID and Afreximbank,” the statement reads.
“During the CACOVID weekly call of February 8th, Governor Emefiele, relayed to the larger group a call that he held with Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Herbert Wigwe with Afreximbank President, Benedict Oramah, on Sunday Feb 7th. President Oramah briefed the 3 CACOVID leaders on the $2 billion facility the Bank has set up with the African Union Vaccine taskforce to purchase vaccines for the African Continent. The allocation for Nigeria has been capped at 42 million doses. President Oramah explained that 1 million doses were ready for shipment to Nigeria in the next 2 weeks if a down payment was made by today, February 8th.
“At today’s meeting, CACOVID leadership agreed to contribute $100 million to procure vaccines for Nigeria, these 1 million doses from Afreximbank worth $3.45 million, being the very first tranche. CACOVID will purchase vaccines through other credible and subsidised mechanisms such as COVAX.
“The vaccines will be delivered to Nigeria and distributed through the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA).
“CACOVID would like the Nigerian public to understand that vaccine purchase is only possible through the Federal Government of Nigeria, and that no individual or company can purchase vaccines directly from any legitimate and recognised manufacturer.”
BUA in another counter statement affirmed that the organisation actually paid for the vaccine after extensive deliberations at the meeting and no agreement was reached by the members.
In a press statement titled: Don’t Play Politics With Nigerians’ Lives, the Company explained that after extensive deliberations and no agreement was reached, BUA Group took it upon itself to pay for the 1million dose at $3.45 per dose totalling $3.450 million which translated to N1.311 billion. BUA transferred the Naira equivalent to a dedicated CBN account from which the Apex Bank paid Afreximbank in dollars in order to meet the deadline.
BUA stated further that immediately after the meeting, its Chairman ordered the transfer of the Naira equivalent to the Apex Bank to beat the deadline.
BUA stated that it was therefore shock with the reaction by the CACOVID Operations Committee, noting that, “with this development by the CACOVID Operations Committee, we now have just cause to believe that some members of CACOVID were not happy that BUA took this initiative in the interest of Nigerians and to ensure that the deadline was met and we received the 1 million doses of the vaccine next week”.
BUA went further, “we are aware that a prominent member of CACOVID is not happy that BUA took the initiative to pay for the vaccine – fulfilling our pledge as we promised during the meeting. Now they want to scuttle it by this action because they were unable to take the initiative”.
Observers believe that the controversy over the matter of purchasing vaccine is a continuation of the war over the control of cement market in the country between BUA and Dangote groups.