Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, on Thursday says the Federal Government is already releasing money to the health authorities to start operation on the first batch of vaccines that is going to arrive the country in one week.
She disclosed that her ministry would prepare a supplementary budget to be sent to the National Assembly to cater for COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination.
She said the fiscal document would be prepared in March.
Ahmed spoke at the maiden edition of State House briefing held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
“There will be a supplementary budget; the first one will be in March relating to the COVID-19 pandemic; but we will also have a mid-year review, like we did last year, of the budget.
“If, at the time we do the review and there is a need to go back to do any amendment for supplementary budget, at that time, we will take that decision; if not, we will just report the review,” she said.
Ahmed gave an indication that the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines will arrive the country next week when she said, “We have a provision in the 2021 budget for immunisation.
“We are already releasing money to the health authorities to start operation in the first batch of vaccines that is going to arrive the country in one week.
“But what we have in the budget is not enough, so we are working with the health authorities to provide a plan that will be taken to the President for approval and to be taken to the National Assembly as a supplementary budget specifically for COVID-19 vaccination.”
Nigeria hopes to get 42 million COVID-19 vaccines to cover one-fifth of its population through the global COVAX scheme, Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, said in January.
Shuaib said the batch of vaccines would come as part of Nigeria’s plan to inoculate 40 percent of the population this year, with another 30 percent in 2022.
By the end of January, 100,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were expected to arrive, he had said. However, Nigeria was excluded from the list of four countries that were eventually listed for the brand of vaccine.
The COVAX scheme was set up to provide vaccines to poorer countries such as Nigeria, whose 200 million people and poor infrastructure pose a daunting challenge to medical officials rolling out the vaccinations as the West African country battles second wave of the virus.
Nigeria will first inoculate frontline health workers, first responders, national leaders, people vulnerable to coronavirus and the elderly, Shuaib said during a regular COVID-19 briefing in Abuja.
(Additional background reports from NAN/Reuters)
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