A former Governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa, has condemned the plan of the federal government to buy COVID-19 vaccines for N400 billion.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, Bafarawa asked the government to use the said amount to tackle insecurity in the country instead of “wasting” it on vaccines.
The PDP chieftain alleged only about 2000 people have died from the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria but within a year, over 300,000 persons have lost their lives to insecurity.
Bafarawa noted that the federal government prioritizes the pandemic more than the insecurity ravaging the North and the country at large.
He said: “Like any other country across the globe, Nigeria, sometime in March 2020, quickly put in place a committee known as presidential task force headed by the secretary to the government of the federation, Boss Mustapha.
“The committee is supposed to order for basic health measures bordering on hygiene, washing of hands, wearing of face masks, social distancing, closure of schools including tertiary institutions, airports and host of other measures.
“Indeed the task force still deals mainly with such measures. But come to think of it, within the period under review, which is about nine months period now, not even up to one year, a whopping sum of N3.5 billion is said to have been spent. This is without funding for research or other related efforts on drugs purchase or drug research findings for their manufacture.”
Bafarawa asked the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) to give Nigerians a transparent breakdown of how the N3.5bn expended on the management of the virus was spent.
He faulted the government’s proposal to spend N400 billion on COVID-19 vaccine when “almost 60 percent of Nigerians do not believe there is COVID-19 and are not even convinced to take the vaccine”.
He said: “We need to know; Nigerians need to know how this N3.5 billion was spent not just to hear figures. We need to have a breakdown, they should be transparent and tell the public what they have done.
“Look at the amount they are proposing to buy the drugs, almost 60 percent of Nigerians don’t believe in this coronavirus and for the PTF to recommend N400 billion, you have to sensitise the people on the vaccine.
“These vaccines have a lifetime by the nature of our weather, maybe after some time, they will be of no use. Now, these vaccines have been meant for Europe. So, how do you expect to spend N400 billion to bring the drugs when people are not even convinced to take the drugs?
“Supposing people refuse to take the vaccines, the N400 billion becomes a waste. So, we have to sensitise people to agree that this coronavirus is real and the vaccines are real; let them be convinced. Remember what happened with the polio vaccine.
“Why can’t we divert this money for security? I’m saying this because the insecurity is Nigeria’s coronavirus. We don’t have much COVID -19 in Nigeria. It is my advice though that the federal government should pay even more attention to the issue of insecurity in the country and the north in particular, instead of emphasizing and spending huge sum of money on coronavirus.”