Obi counters FG over N400bn budget for Covid-19 vaccination

February 3, 2021
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Former governor of Anambra state, Peter Obi, has picked holes in the N400bn budgeted by the federal government to procure Covid-19 vaccines from developers abroad for Nigerians.

Recall that the Health Minister, Osagie Ehanire, had told the National Assembly last December that N400 billion would be needed to vaccinate millions of Nigerians at $8 per individual.

But Obi, while appearing on an ARISE TV programme, said Nigeria needed only about a fraction of the proposed sum to successfully inoculate 70 percent of its population as recommended by the World Health Organisation.

The erstwhile vice-presidential candidate of the PDP, said there are issues of transparency regarding the procurement of vaccines, noting that Nigeria would not have needed to spend so much in procuring vaccines if its National Vaccine Production Facility was operational.

“If they have a N400bn budget to buy the vaccine, my suggestion (is) they don’t need to award contracts. Let them just call Serum institute in India and plead with them. I am sure they will even give us a discount. If they want, I can go for the negotiation. It won’t cost more than $2 each,” he opined.

In emphasising the need for transparency in the procurement of COVID-19 jabs, Mr. Obi explained that: “Today, vaccines in India cost between $2 25 cents to $3. That is an average of $2.75 and if you say you are going to use N400 billion that is about $1bn.”

“If you divide $1bn by $2.75cents each, that is about 350 million doses which is far in excess of what we need,” the former Anambra chief executive pointed out while speaking on Arise Television Tuesday.

Mr. Obi posited that Nigeria needed 140 million doses of the COVID-19 jab to vaccinate 70 percent of its population — a figure he said could reduce to 120 million doses, in view of donations from global partners.

“But even if we’re buying 140 million (doses), we just need about three hundred and eighty-something million dollars which is about N150 billion to buy it,” the businessmen-turned-politician asserted.

Mr. Obi volunteered to negotiate a discount for the vaccine on behalf of the Nigerian government if beckoned by authorities.

Nigeria has recorded a total of 131,918 cases of the coronavirus, with the fatality toll rising to 1,607 as of Monday, February 1.

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