BUA Group has asked the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), a private-sector group of which BUA is a member, to stop playing politics with Nigerian lives.
The group said this in response to a disclaimer issued by CACOVID, discrediting its payment for one million doses of vaccine.
In a statement on Monday, BUA group announced that it had secured one million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, through the AfreximBank vaccine programme in partnership with CACOVID.
The company added that the vaccine doses would be distributed to Nigerians at no cost.
But in a statement by CACOVID operations committee, the coalition said BUA cannot singlehanded secure the doses, and that purchase of the vaccine cannot be done by individuals or companies, but only through the federal government.
Reacting to the development, BUA, in another statement, asked CACOVID to stop playing games with Nigerian lives.
The group said Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, announced at a meeting that CACOVID had been given the opportunity through the Afrexim platform to access and pay for one million doses of vaccine, provided payment was made on Monday or Tuesday.
BUA said while other CACOVID members refused to offer the donation to secure the vaccine, it offered to do so by making a payment of $3,450,000,000, which is N1.311 billion, to the CBN.
“BUA receives with utter shock, reports allegedly attributed to CACOVID, disowning its earlier payment through CACOVID for 1 million AstraZena doses for Nigeria via the AFREXIM vaccine platform,” it said.
“At the cacovid steering committee meeting held today February 8, 2021 (of which BUA is a member), members were informed by the CBN Governor that CACOVID had been given the opportunity through the Afrexim Platform to access and pay for 1million dose, provided payment was made today or tomorrow failure which the opportunity to get those doses next week may be lost.
“After extensive deliberation, there was no agreement reached and despite members being offered the opportunity to donate funds towards procuring the doses, none offered. BUA then took it upon itself to offer to pay for the 1million doses at the agreed rate of US$3.45 per dose totaling US$3,450,000,000.00 which translates to 1.311 billion Naira.”
BUA said the disclaimer by CACOVID operations committee shows that “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”.
It alleged that a prominent member of CACOVID is not happy with the donation, but added that this is no time for politics.
“BUA did this gesture in good faith as it has done with its interventions throughout the pandemic. 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. Now they want to scuttle it by this action because they were unable to take the initiative,” it said.
“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.
“We stand ready to keep supporting and despite this petty action we have decided to le the money remain in the CACOVID Account with the CBN pending when they are ready to utilize the funds for Nigerians to access the vaccines.”