- Says it paid N1.311bn in naira equivalent
- Says it did gesture in good faith as with interventions since pandemic
The management of BUA Group, the Nigerian and African conglomerate, has replied CACOVID, the private sector-led coalition against Covid-19, saying it received with utter shock the latter’s reports disowning its (BUA) earlier payment through CACOVID for one million AstraZeneca doses for Nigeria via the AFREXIM vaccine platform.
BUA said it had actually made the payment to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in Naira equivalent amounting to N1.311 billion, of which the CBN makes the dollar amount to the Afriximbank platform on behalf of CACOVID.
The CACOVID operations committee in a statement on Monday, denied that BUA would singlehandedly secure the vaccine doses, and that purchase of the vaccine cannot be done by individuals or companies, but only through the federal government.
The private-sector led coalition against COVID-19 also said the agreement was that $100 million would be contributed for the vaccine purchase at one million doses, to ensure Nigeria met with the February 8 deadline for down payment of first tranche.
“CACOVID is dismayed to learn of reports on the social media alleging that BUA is singlehandedly purchasing 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for Nigeria. Alhaji Rabiu Abdulsamad must have been misquoted because these claims are not factual, as CACOVID operate on a collegiate fund contribution model. There is no agreement between BUA, CACOVID and Afreximbank,” the coalition said further in its statement.
But BUA in its reply, said, at a CACOVID steering committee meeting held on Monday, February 8, of which BUA is a member, members were informed by the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, that CACOVID had been given the opportunity through the Afrexim platform to access and pay for 1million doses, provided payment was made Monday or Tuesday – failure which the opportunity to get the 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 1 million doses at the agreed rate of US$3.45 per dose totaling US$3.45 million which translates to 1.311billion Naira,” the conglomerate explained.
It said, its chairman (Abdul Samad Rabiu) also requested through the CBN governor that the Naira equivalent be paid to the relevant account with CBN, and that CBN forwards the dollar payment to Afreximbank on CACOVID’s behalf.
BUA, displaying payment confirmation slips, said it made the payment immediately after the CACOVID meeting, transferring the money to the CBN, in order to meet the deadline.
According to the company, “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,” the company said.
The Nigerian and African leading foods and infrastructure conglomerate said it finds the statement by CACOVID to be very petty and unbecoming of seemingly serious corporate citizens, because it tantamounts 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,” the company added.
It said it stands ready to keep supporting, and has 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 COVID-19 vaccines.