The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says the insinuation in certain quarters that Nigeria is going cap in hand seeking donations for COVID-19 vaccines is incorrect.
The minister made the clarification during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
According to him, Nigeria is expecting a large number in batches of doses of COVID-19 vaccine brands in a few weeks, which are being paid for.
The minister said some of the vaccines were procured through the African Union (AU) which had signed a COVID-19 Vaccine Procurement Agreement for 400 million doses for member-states funded with loans from African Export–Import Bank (Afreximbank).
“It is not correct that we are going cap in hand relying on donations; vaccines are not like bread that you can go to a shop and buy.
“There is what is called Vaccine Rationalisation. Even those countries that have the vaccines are not ready to sell.
“That is why we have to go through the AU to negotiate globally for the 400 million for the whole of Africa.
“We are not just expecting large number of doses of the vaccines which the government is paying for, but working toward the development of our home-grown vaccines.’’
The minister recalled that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in June approved N83.56 billion to purchase 30 million doses of the vaccines.
He said there was a lot of cooperation between the Federal Government and various research institutes for the development of locally-made vaccines.
“Don’t forget that Nigeria is the first country in Africa that did the sequencing of this virus a long time ago.
“We will be very proud to have our own home-made vaccines and that is why we are giving support to all our various research institutes to have a breakthrough on this.
“We have been told that this may not be the last virus or epidemic we are going to have, therefore, working toward vaccines must be a continuous one.
“The Federal Government is doing everything possible to support and encourage our scientists.
“Hopefully, in a few years, we will be able to develop our home-made vaccines which will be administered globally.’’
The minister admonished people with negative view points, stressing that receiving donations while waiting to take delivery of its own should not be a basis for vilification.
“They should know that while we are looking on how to get our own vaccines, whatever vaccines that are available now we should acquire.
“People must be alive first before they can take the advantage of making their own vaccines,’’ Mohammed said.
Some critics had alleged that Nigeria was depending on donors for its COVID-19 vaccines, in spite of huge funds committed by the public and private sectors.
They contended that the first and second batches of vaccines brought into the country so far were through donations. (NAN)