By Deji Elumoye
The federal government yesterday attributed the delay in the submission of a supplementary budget for the procurement of security equipment and COVID-19 vaccines to the National Assembly to the non-submission of the estimates for the purchase of military hardware by the Ministry of Defence.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, told reporters after the Federal Executive (FEC) meeting, presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, that her ministry had met with the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, and the three service chiefs on the need to submit the estimates for the military hardwares so as to include the cost in the proposed supplementary budget.
The minister stated that the security chiefs were yet to furnish her office with the details but expressed hope that the estimates would be submitted soon
“For the military hardwares, 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,” she added.
She, however, said the supplementary budgetary estimates for COVID-19 vaccines prepared by her ministry and the Ministry of Health were ready.
She said: “Sometime in January, the president, based on the request by the Ministry of Health, gave an 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 N399 billion, but included in this N399 billion was a N103 billion for building of primary healthcare centres. So, we’ve worked with and met several times with the ministry.
“We’ve agreed to back out from this building of primary health care centres. That can wait till later. So, there’s still a provision of N396 billion for COVID-19 vaccinations for 2021 and 2022.”
Ahmed stated that Nigeria was expecting about 43 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from donors adding that Ministry of Health officials have been mandated to come up with the total number of vaccine donations being expected to guide the government in its plans to buy more vaccines.
“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 the donated vaccines, and at the speed of the current rollout, we have to slow down on what we’re 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 roll out the four million vaccines that have been brought already into the country, and the vaccination process is ongoing.
“So for us is still work in progress. We hope in the next couple of days, we’ll have clarity on the schedule of vaccines expected from donors and then we will now be able to firm up what the government has to provide for in 2021. And therefore the 2022 component we will provide it during the 2022 appropriations,” she said.