BUA Group, one of Nigerian a leading foods and infrastructure conglomerates, has reacted to Coalition Against COVID-19, CACOVID’s statement disputing its claims that it “is singlehandedly purchasing 1 million Covid-19 vaccine doses for Nigeria.”
CACOVID is a private sector task force in partnership with the Federal Government, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, and the World Health Organisation, WHO, with the sole aim of combating Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Nigeria.
On Monday, BUA announced that it paid for 1 million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines for Nigeria through the AFREXIM Vaccine program in partnership with CACOVID.
But hours after BUA’s statement, CACOVID, which is led by Aliko Dangote and other Nigerian billionaires, fired back, saying the “claims are not factual as CACOVID operates on a collegiate fund contribution model”.
Mr Dangote and chairman/CEO of BUA Abdulsamad Rabiu are having a running battle, particularly over limestone mining rights in Obu-Okpella, Edo State.
In its counter-statement, CACOVID tackled BUA, saying, “During the CACOVID weekly call of February 8th, Governor Emefiele, relayed to the larger group a call that he held with Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Herbert Wigwe with Afreximbank President, Benedict Oramah on Sunday Feb 7th.
“President Oramah briefed the 3 CACOVID leaders on the $2 billion facility the Bank has set up with the African Union Vaccine taskforce to purchase vaccines for the AfricanContinent.
“The allocation for Nigeria has been capped at 42 million doses. President Oramah explained that 1 million doses were ready for shipment to Nigeria in the next 2 weeks if a down payment was made by today, February 8th.
“At today’s meeting, CACOVID leadership agreed to contribute $100 million to procure vaccines for Nigeria, these 1 million doses from Afreximbank worth $3.45 million, being the very first tranche. CACOVID will purchase vaccines through other credible and subsidized mechanisms such as COVAX.
“The vaccines will be delivered to Nigeria and distributed through the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA).
“CACOVID would like the Nigerian public to understand that vaccine purchase is only possible through the Federal Government of Nigeria, and that no individual or company can purchase vaccines directly from any legitimate and recognized manufacturer.”
In its response, BUA shows proof of payment of N1.311billion for the procurement of the vaccines.
“BUA receives with utter shock, reports allegedly attributed to CACOVID, disowning its earlier payment through CACOVID for 1 million AstraZeneca doses for Nigeria via the AFREXIM vaccine platform,” the statement 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 doses, provided payment was made today or tomorrow – failure which the opportunity to get those doses next week may be lost.
“After extensive deliberations, 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$3,450,000.00 which translates to 1.311billion Naira.
“The Chairman of BUA also requested through the CBN governor that the Naira equivalent be paid to the relevant account with CBN, and that CBN forward the dollar payment to Afrexim on CACOVID’s behalf.
“This payment was made immediately after the meeting and BUA transferred the money to the CBN (see payment confirmation attached) in order to meet the deadline. However, with this development by the CACOVID operations committee, we now have just cause to believe 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.
“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.
“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 Nigerian Lives.”