BUA Group, CACOVID bicker over COVID-19 vaccine for Nigerians

There seems to be some level of confusion as BUA Group has lambasted the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) for disowning its claims on the purchase of a million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine for Nigeria.

After reports went viral on Monday that the conglomerate had acquired the vaccines, the coalition quickly remarked that “no individual or company can purchase vaccines directly from any legitimate and recognized manufacturer.”

The private sector-led coalition against COVID-19 had disowned the statement by the BUA group, stating that the company has purchased one million doses of COVID-19 vaccine for Nigeria.

Recall that BUA group in a statement issued earlier on Monday, 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.

However, 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.

The statement reads: “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 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.

“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.”

But the BUA Group has, in a statement on Tuesday, warned the coalition not to play politics with Nigerian lives.

The company also went ahead to release details of what transpired at the CACOVID steering committee where the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, announced that CACOVID had been given the opportunity, through the Afrexim Platform, to access and pay for one million doses, provided payment was made today (Tuesday) or tomorrow – failure which the opportunity to get those doses next week may be lost.

According to BUA, after extensive deliberations, there was no agreement reached and despite members being offered the opportunity to donate funds towards procuring the doses, no one offered.

It noted that, “BUA then took it upon itself to offer to pay for the one million doses at the agreed rate of $3.45 per dose totalling $3.450 million which translates to N1.311 billion.

“The chairman of BUA also requested through the CBN governor that the Naira equivalent be paid to the relevant account with CBN and that the CBN forward the dollar payment to Afrexim on CACOVID’s behalf.”

BUA with evidence affirmed that the payment was made immediately after the meeting and transferred the money to the CBN in order to meet the deadline.

The group noted the actions of the CACOVID team only meant 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 one million doses of the vaccine next week.

“BUA did this gesture in good faith as it has done with its interventions throughout the pandemic,” it said.

 

It continued, “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.

“We find this release by CACOVID to be very petty and unbecoming of seemingly serious corporate citizens because it is tantamount to playing politics with the lives of Nigerians.”

The group then added that in spite of the action, it has decided to let the money remain in the CACOVID account with the CBN, pending when they are ready to utilize the funds for Nigerians to access the vaccines.

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