By Ismail Auwal
Drama surrounds acquisition of a million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine continues to unfold as BUA Group described the Coalition Against COVID-19, CACOVID, as “petty” for rejecting its (BUA) earlier claims on the purchase.
CACOVID had issued a rebuttal on BUA’s earlier claim on the purchase of vaccines for Nigerians, saying that no individual has the capacity to strike such deal.
The Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) is a private sector-led organization in Nigeria established to assist the government in combating the Coronavirus disease in the country. It was launched on March 26, 2020, following an announcement made by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.
In a swift reaction in a statement on Tuesday, the BUA group released details of what transpired at the CACOVID steering committee where the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele announced that CACOVID had been given the opportunity through the Afrexim Platform to access and pay for 1million doses, provided payment was made today 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, none offered.
“BUA then took it upon itself to offer to pay for the 1million doses at the agreed rate of US$3.45 per dose totaling US$3,450,000,000.00 which translates to 1.311billion Naira.
“The Chairman of BUA also requested through the CBN governor that the Naira equivalent be paid to the relevant account with CBN, and that CBN forward the dollar payment to Afrexim on CACOVID’s behalf. BUA affirmed that the payment was made immediately after the meeting and transferred the money to the CBN in order to meet the deadline.
BUA noted with dismay that 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 1 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 alarmed that “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.
“This is no time for politics. It is time for us to come together to help Nigerians and it does not matter who is helping or paying.
“We stand ready to keep supporting and despite this petty action, we have 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,” the statement reads