Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning has given an indication that the Federal Government will spend nothing less than N296 billion on COVID-19 vaccinations in 2021 and 2022.
Ahmed also confirmed that the supplementary budget for procurement of security equipment and COVID-19 vaccines being prepared by the Federal Government is not ready yet.
She said the government was still waiting for the service chiefs who are expected to aggregate their request and submit to President Muhammadu Buhari who will in turn forward to her ministry.
Ahmed spoke in an interview with State House correspondents after the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Recall that Buhari on Monday told both the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; as well as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Kayode Fayemi, that the government would send a supplementary budget to the National Assembly to cater for the procurement of equipment and COVID-19 vaccines.
The minister, who said the government was still waiting for the service chiefs, however, expressed the hope that the security estimates would be made available soon.
She said, “For the military hardware, we have met with the service chiefs and the Chief of Defence Staff. They are supposed to aggregate their request for review amongst themselves and then pass it to Mr President, then it will be sent to us.
“So, we are waiting for the information of the aggregate requirements.”
On the N296 billion to be spent on COVID-19 vaccination in 2021 and 2022, the minister said the figure was arrived at after the government dropped the idea of building primary health care centres which would have cost N103billion.
She explained, “Sometime in January, the President, based on the request by the Ministry of Health, gave approval in principle for the Ministry of Health to work with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to prepare and take to the National Assembly a supplementary budget for COVID-19 vaccination.
“The submission that was made to Mr President at that time was in the sum of N399billion, but included in this N399 billion was a N103 billion for the building of primary healthcare centres.
“So, we have worked with and met several times with the ministry and we have agreed to back out from this building of primary health care centres. That can wait till later.
“So, there is still a provision of N296 billion for COVID-19 vaccinations for 2021 and 2022.”
Ahmed further disclosed that Nigeria was expecting not less than 43 million COVID-19 doses from donors, adding that officials of the Ministry of Health have been mandated to come up with the total number of vaccine donation being expected to guide the government in its plans to buy more vaccines.
She added, “There have been some delays because we expected the ministry to confirm the vaccines donation that Nigeria is expecting. We are expecting a total of not less than 43 million doses of vaccines.
“So, they are supposed to find out when those ones will come because if we are going to get back the donated vaccines, and at the speed of the current rollout, we have slowed down on what we are buying ourselves.
“So, the ministry is working with partners that are donating these vaccines. So, we see the timelines of the donations and see the gap that the government needs to fill in 2021.
“But we have already provided to the ministry funds to enable them to roll out the four million doses that have been brought already into the country, and the vaccination process is ongoing.
“So, for us, it is still a work in progress. We hope in the next couple of days, we will have clarity on the schedule of vaccines expected from donors, and then we will now be able to firm up what government has to provide for in 2021. And therefore the 2022 component we will provide it during the 2022 appropriations.”