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COVID-19; N150bn enough for COVID-19 vaccines, not N400bn – Peter Obi

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A former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, has said that N150 billion is enough for Nigeria to procure COVID-19 vaccines.

According to him, the budgeted N400bn for the vaccines can be reduced if he is allowed to procure the vaccines for the country.

Reports had it that the Federal Government had in December 2020 said N400 billion is needed for COVID-19 vaccines.

FG also has said it is targetting to vaccinate at least 70 percent of Nigerians, adding that 100,000 doses are expected from the WHO-backed Covax initiative in February.

The government also said it had secured about 41 million doses through an African Union vaccine initiative.

But the former Vice Presidential candidate under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party said during an interview on Arise Television on Tuesday that the COVID-19 vaccine could be bought for $2 each.

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, yellow fever, and that facility was shut down in 1991 to be refurbished and upgraded, there was nothing wrong with it,” Obi said.

“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 a discount. If they want I can go for the negotiation. It won’t cost more than $2 each.”

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