N400bn budgeted by Nigerian govt for COVID-19 vaccines is in excess, I can get it cheaper for N150bn – Peter Obi
Former Anambra State Governor and vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 presidential election, Peter Obi, says the sum of N400 billion budgeted by the federal government to procure COVID-19 vaccines is in excess.
Peter Obi who appeared as a guest on an Arise Television programme on Tuesday thus offered to help the federal government broker a deal of N150bn that will help in vaccination of 70% of Nigeria’s population.
According to him, a vaccine in India costs between $2.25 cents to $3 and that is an average of $2.75 and if the government says it is going to use N400 billion, that is about $1bn.
He further added that if $1bn is divided by $2.75 cents each, that is about 350 million doses which far exceeds what Nigeria needs.
Obi said; “The issue of vaccines 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 N400bn. Well, I am at loss. Our budget this year for health is N547bn. I don’t know if they are going to take this vaccine procurement from it, because if they do, we are left with N147bn.
“For the vaccine procurement also, we need to have transparency in the procurement. Today, vaccines in India cost 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 $1bn. If you divide $1bn 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 percent of your population, that’s it. 70 percent 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 N150bn to buy it.
“If they have a N400bn 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 a discount. If they want I can go for the negotiation. It won’t cost more than $2 each,” he stated.