BUA Group, a member of the steering committee of Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), responded Monday evening to a statement issued by CACOVID earlier in the day, which disowned the press release issued by BUA that the company purchased one million doses of COVID-19 vaccine for Nigeria through CACOVID in partnership with Afrexim.
BUA said it received ‘with utter shock’, reports allegedly attributed to CACOVID, disowning its earlier payment through CACOVID for one million AstraZeneca doses for Nigeria via the Afrexim vaccine platform.
“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,” BUA said as part of the statement.
CACOVID is the Private Sector task force spearheaded by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), 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 Covid-19 in Nigeria through by pulling resources across industries to provide technical and operational support while providing funding and building advocacy through an aggressive awareness drive.
“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 one million doses, provided payment was made today or tomorrow – failure which the opportunity to get those doses next week may be lost,” BUA said a statement released Monday.
“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 one million doses at the agreed rate of $3.45 per dose totalling $3.45m which translates to N1.311bn.
“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 one million doses of the vaccine next week.
“BUA did this gesture in good faith as it has done with its interventions throughout the pandemic,” it continued in the statement.
“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.”
The conglomerate said if found the press 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 let 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,” the company said.