The BUA Group, one of Nigeria’s leading infrastructure conglomerates, announced on Monday that it had purchased one million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine through the AfreximBank vaccine programme in partnership with CACOVID, the private sector-driven coalition spearheaded by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, tasked with pulling resources across industries to provide technical and operational support while building advocacy through aggressive awareness drives with the sole aim of combating Corona virus (COVID-19) in Nigeria. BUA is a frontline member of the CACOVID.
BUA’s statement added that the vaccine doses would be distributed to Nigerians at no cost and that they had even gone ahead to make a payment of $3,450,000,000, which is N1.311 billion, to the CBN because the manufacturers had warned that failure to do so would entail waiting longer.
The Chairman of BUA Group, Abdulsamad Rabiu, said, “BUA decided to secure these one million vaccines by paying the full amount for the vaccines today because these vaccines became available only last week through AFREXIM. We expect the vaccines to be delivered within the next 14 days and hope priority will be given to our frontline workers who have committed their lives to managing the pandemic.” He added that in total, BUA would purchase five million doses for Nigeria as soon as they become available through the same arrangement.
Nigerians thronged to social media to hail Rabiu for his various interventions during the pandemic. But CACOVID cut the joy of Nigerians short, literally, by disowning BUA’s statement and declaring that the purchase of the vaccine cannot be done by individuals or companies, but only through the federal government.
According to CACOVID, the agreement was that $100 million would be contributed for the purchase of one million doses to ensure that Nigeria meets up with the February 8 deadline for the down payment on the first tranche. “CACOVID is dismayed to learn of reports on social media today alleging that BUA is singlehandedly purchasing 1 million Covid-19 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 reads.
Alarmed, BUA reacted, stating that the gesture was done in good faith, but, “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. 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.
“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.”
This is where Nigerians have a problem. Many sources told The Capital that the coalition is just dancing to the tune of a major adversary of Rabiu who seems hell-bent on taking the shine off him. “Why can the coalition not just accept Rabiu’s vaccines and go ahead with its plans to buy more or would it rather Nigerians continue to die? Have they forgotten that the more, the merrier? We have over 200million people and some people are fighting over 1million vaccines. Does that make sense? What does it matter who buys it first?” The posers are endless.
In a chat with The Capital this morning, Rabiu said pointedly, “It is petty for them to play politics with the lives of Nigerians. It is just dirty and petty politics. May God save Nigeria from such Nigerians.”
For now, Nigerians are unsure when vaccines would reach the country as CACOVID did not state that it met the February 8 deadline for payment yet, has prevented BUA’s.