The Street Journal had earlier reported that BUA group had announced that it would purchase one million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, through the AfreximBank vaccine programme in partnership with Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID).
The vaccine, BUA said would be delivered by next week at no cost, thus making it the first set of vaccines to be delivered in Nigeria since the COVID-19 vaccines became available.
However, in a statement released by CACOVID a few hours later, the group denied BUA’s contribution to securing the doses, stating that purchase of the vaccine cannot be done by individuals or companies, but only through the federal government.
“CACOVID is dismayed to learn of the reports alleging that BUA is single-handedly purchasing 1 million Covid19 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,” the statement said.
Following the statement by CACOVID, BUA addressed the issue with a statement where it expressed shock that CACOVID disowned it’s payment. BUA revealed that the Central Bank governor, Godwin Emefiele had informed members of CACOVID during a steering committee meeting on Monday February 8th, that the group had been given an opportunity through the Afrexim platform to access and pay for 1 million vaccine doses, provided payment is made by the end of Tuesday, February 9th, for an opportunity to get the doses by next week.
BUA in its statement claimed that none of the members of CACOVID group offered to donate funds towards the procurement of the doses. Rather than allow the opportunity to pass, BUA offered to pay for the doses at $3.45 per dose, totalling, $3,450,000,000.00 which comes to N1.311bn.
The payment according to BUA, was carried out immediately after the meeting and with the knowledge of the CBN gov, as payment in naira equivalent was made into the account with CBN and the dollar equivalent transferred to Afrexim on behalf of CACOVID.
“However, with this development with CACOVID operations committee, we now have just cause to believe that some members of CACOVID are not happy that BUA took this initiative in the interest of Nigeria and to prevent the deadline from elapsing,” the statement further said.
“BUA did this gesture in good faith as it has done with its intervention throughout the pandemic. We would like to however 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. Now they want to scuttle this action because they were unable to take the initiative.
“We find the 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 and help Nigerians and it does not matter who is helping or paying.”
In conclusion, BUA said, “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 use the funds for Nigerians to access the vaccines.”