War Of Wits As BUA, CACOVID Clash Over Purchase Of Covid Vaccines

  • CACOVID: No individual or company can directly purchase vaccines
  • BUA Group Replies: Your Statement ‘petty’… You’re ‘playing politics with Nigerian lives’

By Abiola Olawale

The Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) and BUA group of companies are currently engaging in a war of wits over claims by the latter that it has singlehandedly purchased one million doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines for Nigeria.

Abdul Samad Rabiu, Founder and Chairman of BUA was quoted on Monday to have said that the company has paid for one million doses of vaccines for Nigeria through the AFREXIM Vaccine programme in partnership with CACOVID.

After the reports had gone viral, Monday, CACOVID raised an objection to the vaccine purchase by BUA, also a member of the coalition, stating that no individual or company can purchase vaccines directly from any legitimate manufacturer.

CACOVID is a private sector-led initiative that pulled together key business leaders across the country to raise resources and help Nigeria respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. Members of the coalition’s funding committee include business heavyweights and Billionaires like: Aliko Dangote, Herbert Wigwe, BUA’s Abdulsamad Rabiu, Femi Otedola, Folorunso Alakija, Jim Ovia, John Coumantaros, Raj Gupta, Segun Agbaje, Tony Elumelu, Modupe Alakija & Folorunso Alakija and CBN Governor, Godwin Emiefele.

In a statement, CACOVID said it was surprised to see reports on social media alleging that BUA had singlehandedly purchased the vaccine doses for Nigeria.

The statement reads, “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. 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 African Continent. 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. 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.”

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BUA reacted to the statement by CACOVID in a response titled, ‘Rejoinder: BUA replied CACOVID – Don’t Play Politics with Nigerians lives,” insisting it has made a payment of N1.311billion for the procurement of the vaccines.

BUA, who provided the proof of payment in its statement, said it channeled the funds for the vaccine purchase to CACOVID through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) who credited AFREXIM Bank with the dollar equivalent.

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The conglomerate added that it took the initiative to ensure the country does not miss out on the delivery of the vaccine next week as the CACOVID meeting held on Monday could not immediately reach an agreement on the vaccine procurement.

The statement reads, “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. 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.”

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BUA who claimed that a prominent member of CACOVID was critical of the company’s initiative, warned the coalition against playing politics with Nigerian lives amid the pandemic, noting that the coalition’s reaction was “petty and unbecoming of seemingly serious corporate citizens”

“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.”

It would be recalled that on Monday, a BUA was reported to have singlehandedly purchased one million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for Nigeria.

BUA also stated that the vaccines are expected to be delivered next week, hoping it could be the first Covid vaccine delivery to the country since the breakthrough was announced.

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