*Says N400b budgeted to procure COVID-19 vaccines for Nigeria is in excess,
- Can’t cost more than $2 per vaccine
A former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, scoffed at the N400 billion budgeted by the Federal Government for procurement of COVID-19 vaccines for Nigerians.
The government had earmarked N400billion for the procurement of the vaccines in the 2021 budget.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said on Monday the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX would arrive in the country later this month.
Obi, who featured in a programme on Arise Television, however, said N150 billion is enough to procure the vaccines for the citizens.
He said: “The issue of vaccine is one that I feel a sense of pain. Nigeria as a country in 1940 established what we called National Vaccine Production Facility domiciled in Yaba, and that was able to produce virtually all the vaccines we used in the days of smallpox and yellow fever.
“The facility was shut down in 1991 for refurbishment and upgrading. There was nothing wrong with it. And till today that has been the case deliberately so that people can import vaccines and sell to the government.
“Now I hear that we are looking for N400bn. Well, I am at loss. Our budget this year for health is N547bn. I don’t know if they are going to take this vaccine procurement from it, because if they do, we are left with N147bn.
“For the vaccine procurement also, we need to have transparency in the procurement. Today, vaccine in India costs 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.
“World Health Organisation said if you can inject 70 percent of your population, that’s it. 70 percent of Nigeria is about 140 million so we are actually looking for 140 million doses. Considering that some other people are going to give us some free, we actually don’t need more than 120 million. But even if we’re buying 140 million, we just need about three hundred and eighty-something million dollars which is about N150bn to buy it.
“If they have a N400bn budget to buy the vaccine, my suggestion, they don’t need to award contracts in this vaccine, let them just call Serum institute in India and plead with them. I am sure they will even give us discount. If they want I can go for the negotiation. It won’t cost more than $2 each.”