Former governor of Anambra, Peter Obi has said Nigeria does not need more than N150 billion to procure COVID-19 vaccines.
He stated this agains the backdrop of a statement by Minister of health,Osagie Ehanire, in December 2020 that the Federal Government needed about N400 billion for COVID-19 vaccines.
The minister said the N400 billion would be required to vaccinate 70 per cent of Nigeria’s over 200 million population, at $8 per person.
Obi who was guest at ARISE Television said there were issues of transparency regarding the procurement of vaccines.
“Nigeria would not have needed to spend so much in procuring vaccines if its National Vaccine Production Facility was operational. 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.
“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 N400billion. Well, I am at loss. Our budget this year for health is N547billion, I don’t know if they are going to take this vaccine procurement from it, because if they do, we are left with N147billion. 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 $1billion. If you divide $1billion 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 per cent of your population, that’s it. 70 per cent 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 N150billion to buy it.
“If they have a N400billion 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.”