From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The federal government has explained the reason behind the delay in getting the supplementary budget ready for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines for Nigerians.
According to Health Minister Dr Osagie Ehanire, the government wants to get a clearer picture of the different prices of the available vaccines, before submitting a budget.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan had on March 30, after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, told State House Correspondents that the President was expected to supplementary budget in order to provide for funding of the COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria, as well as security, more resources to the security agencies to address challenges.
But the Minister of Health disclosed on Thursday while featuring on the Presidential Ministerial Press Briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, that the figures are still in rough stages and would soon be done tuned.
‘There are different prices of the vaccines and we don’t really know exactly the one we’re getting. And we also know that the ones we’re getting from COVAX are at no cost to us. So what we’re doing is that the additional ones that we’re going to get will take care of 50 million Nigerians, COVAX will take care of 20 million, they are even offering to take care of more than that, maybe up to 30 million,’ Osagie said.
‘The prices vary, some vaccines are in the neighbourhood of $20 or $30, others are $5 or $6. So to really make a budget, we are working on a rough sketch, some money has been earmarked. But Mr President has also announced that there will be a supplementary budget. But we want to get a clearer picture first before you actually submit a budget.
‘So, we only have rough figures and as soon as those figures are there we can continue. We are also looking for perhaps, as I said, if we have to make the payments, we can find some money to do that. But when that budget time comes, we need some precise information.’
Asked to give an idea of a rough figure, the minister said: ‘I can’t disclose any figure to you now because is not something we can immediately put out because as I said before, the prices are different.
‘We are looking at Johnson and Johnson now, but if for example, we are to get more AstraZeneca vaccine, there is a steep difference between the two. And then again, if they are going to give you the Pfizer vaccine, Pfizer was on the original list of COVAX and that is different. So we’re not really going to go public but very soon we will once we have all the figures.’