Senators on Monday expressed reservation over the preparedness of the Federal Government to manage the COVID-19 vaccination in the country.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and his colleagues spoke at a meeting with the Minister of Health Osagie Ehanire and Finance Minister, Mrs Zainab Ahmed.
The ministers were in the Senate to brief the leadership of the Red Chamber on the Federal Government’s plans to procure COVID-19 vaccines worth about N400bn.
Lawan said it was a good bargain to spend N400 billion to protect Nigerians from the deadly virus but expressed reservations over the availability of facilities and manpower to manage the vaccine.
“I have not been convinced with your presentation that we are ready to bring in the vaccines.
“You have to do much more to convince me that we are ready. This is a matter of life and death. I am not only a doubting Thomas, I am also doubting Ahmad”
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, also joined in expressing doubt in the ability of the health officials to guarantee the safety of the vaccines.
He said, “I am a doubting Omo-Agege also.”
He expressed worry that the government so far had made preparations for only four cold chains for the vaccines, in Abuja, Kano, Enugu and Lagos and asked why the entire South South region was not included in the plan.
The DSP also expressed worry that the vaccines may lose its efficacy on transit to the South South if no facility was provided.
Other senators also expressed doubts over the presentations of the officials from the Ministry of Health on the facilities that had been put in place to ensure adequate storage protection for the vaccines.
But the health minister insisted that the government was substantially ready for a successful COVID-19 vaccination exercise for its citizens.
He maintained that the country, which has successfully fought polio, would use the same storage facilities (cold chains) to store the COVID-19 vaccines.
He explained that the federal government was in talks with manufacturers and had trained staff as well as put the right cooling infrastructure in place to store the vaccines when they are acquired.
The minister said about N400bn would be required to vaccinate 70 per cent of Nigerians 211 million population, at $8 person.
He said N156bn would be needed in 2021 while N200bn in 2022.