BUA, CACOVID Battle Over Vaccine Donations

Leading food and infrastructure conglomerate, BUA, and the private sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) are currently at loggerheads following BUA’s announcement of the purchase of one million doses of Covid-19 vaccine for Nigeria.

The CACOVID Point Of View

The private sector-led coalition against COVID-19 (CACOVID) on Monday, February 9, 2020, opposed an earlier statement credited to the BUA group that the company had purchased one million doses of COVID-19 vaccine for Nigeria.

CACOVID operations committee denied that BUA singlehandedly secured the said amount of doses, stressing that the purchase of the vaccines in Nigeria must be through the federal government and not by individuals or companies.

According to CACOVID, the committee agreed that $100 million would be “contributed” for the purchase of one million doses, in order to ensure that Nigeria meets up with the February 8 deadline for the down payment on the first batch.

“CACOVID is dismayed to learn of reports on social media today alleging that BUA is singlehandedly purchasing 1 million Covid-19 vaccine doses for Nigeria. 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,” the statement reads.

“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.

“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 subsidised 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 recognised manufacturer.”

The BUA Point Of View

On Monday, the BUA group announced its contribution to the fight against Covid-19 with its purchase of one million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, through the AfreximBank vaccine programme in partnership with CACOVID.

The company also added that purchased vaccine doses would be distributed to Nigerians at no cost once available.

However, following CACOVID’s statement disowning BUA’s collaboration with the committee for the purchase, BUA in a swift reaction Monday night, issued another statement disputing CACOVID’s claim while also posting evidence of payments to CBN.

In a statement titled: “Don’t Play Politics With Nigerian Lives”, the company 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.

BUA’s statement reads: “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 – a 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 totalling US$3,450,000,000.00 which translates to 1.31 billion 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 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 Nigeria to access the vaccines.”

BUA’s Payment Evidence

Patsy Nwogu

Reporting on data-driven featured stories and investigations.

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