From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, met with the Senate President, Ahmed Lawal and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, over the supplementary budget that will cover the cost of purchasing new equipment to fight insecurity as well as COVID-19 vaccinations.
No provision was made in the 2021 finance bill adopted in December.
Speaking to State House Correspondents on the purpose of the meeting, Lawan said: “You know, it’s one government where the executive and legislature are working together and we have come to meet with Mr. President to discuss issues of serious national concern. And one of those issues is the issue of supplementary budget. Both executive and legislative arms believe that we should have supplementary budget to provide for funding of the COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria, as well as the security, providing more resources and platforms to our security agencies.
“And today, I’m sure in Nigeria, there are no more grave issues than COVID-19 and security situation. I want to take this opportunity to say that the security situation is gradually improving. I’m sure that when we give more resources to our security agencies we will see an even faster recovery of our situation.
“As for the COVID, I believe our country should have some resources for our scientists to collaborate with other scientists from across the globe to also have our own vaccine because we can’t rely on what other countries are doing now, every nation to itself, that’s what is happening.
“The US is not allowing vaccines to go out of US. EU is not allowing, AstraZeneca vaccine produced in UK to be sent out of EU. India is not allowing AstraZeneca vaccine they produced to be exported out. So, where do we go from here? We will have to fall back on our own capacities and abilities. And we have great scientists in this country. We have many Nigerians outside Nigeria, who are also helping developing the vaccines in other countries. So why don’t you bring them home? Why don’t you put some resources so they will also produce ours locally here and take care of our population, and the later other African countries especially our neighbours.
“So I believe that we had a very good discussions and interaction with Mr. President along those lines.”
On if the National Assembly will consider a request from a Vaccine candidate asking for $100 million for trial, the Senate President said no.