…Meets with Lawan, Gbajabiamila at Aso Rock
…Security heads meet President on Tuesday
…As Nigeria mulls to bring home her scientists abroad for COVID-19 Vaccine production
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
AS the security situation continues to degenerate on a daily basis, President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to submit supplementary budget to the National Assembly for more funds to be made available for the procurement of equipment to battle insurgents.
Already, the President yesterday met with the leadership of the National Assembly over security matters and also concerns on how to make funding available for COVID-19 vaccination. Besides, the Federal Government is looking at the possibility of bringing home Nigerian scientists outside the country who have contributed in producing the COVID-19 vaccines for many countries to also make their services available to their fatherland.
This is as Vanguard has gathered that President Buhari will be meeting with the security heads today at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Speaking to State House correspondents, President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, said the meeting with the President was primarily centered on how to improve security situation in the country as well as make the COVID-19 vaccine available to Nigerians.
The Senate President said: “You know it is one government, where the legislature is working together and we have come to meet with Mr. President to discuss issues of serious national concern. “One of those issues is the issue of supplementary budget. Both executive and legislative arms believe that we should have supplementary budget to provide for funding of the COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria, as well as security, providing more resources and platforms to our security agencies.
“I am sure in Nigeria, there are no more grave issues than COVID-19 and the security situation in the country. And I want to take this opportunity to say that the security situation is gradually improving.
“I am sure that when we have more resources available to our security agencies, we will see an even faster recovery from insecurity. As for the COVID, I believe that our country should have some resources for our scientists to collaborate with other scientists from across the globe to also have our own vaccine because we can’t rely on what other countries are doing now, every nation to itself, that’s what is happening.
“The US is not allowing vaccines to go out of US. EU is not allowing AstraZeneca vaccine produced in UK to be sent out of EU. India is not allowing AstraZeneca vaccine they produce to be exported out. So where do we go from here? We will have to fall back on our own capacities and abilities. “We have great scientists in this country. We have many Nigerians outside Nigeria, who are also helping developing the vaccines in other countries. So why don’t you bring them home? Why don’t you put some resources so they will also produce ours locally here and take care of our population, and later other African countries, especially our neighbours? “So I believe that we had a very good discussion and interaction with Mr. President along those lines.”
Asked if the National Assembly will consider the request from a vaccine candidate asking for $100 million for trial, the Senate President said there would be no provision for such request, saying things don’t work that way.
He said: “No, we have to have something scientifically proven. There has to be concrete system that you can channel resources into not an individual moving around talking. No, no, no, we should have everything in place.’’
On the kind of intervention Nigerians would hope to see from National Assembly on the security challenges, he said the intervention would be more on the approval of funds.
“Of course, approval of funds for the purchase of platforms, weapons and equipment are essentials we have already approved so much. And that’s why we’re expecting Tucano aircarft to be here. We’re expecting some APCs from Jordan. We’re expecting some APCs from China. And we believe that we’ve not had enough, we still need to approve more sources for the purchase of weapons for our armed forces, because this is the number one priority of government or any government really, to secure the people, and of course later the welfare. “So we believe that we will be doing the right thing, if there is a request through supplementary appropriation bill from the presidency or executive arm of government, and then we approve.’’
On his part, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, while answering questions on the PIB said: “On the PIB, the Senate President has covered the ground or covered the field like we say. We made a commitment to the Nigerian people and that commitment is April, end of April.’’
The Speaker, who commented on the new Service Chiefs said,”The new service chiefs have hit the ground running from what I can see. They were screened and they were screened very thoroughly, and very vigorously. And they come with high pedigree.”
He said the House about a week ago set up a 40-man committee special committee on security led by the leadership of the house, the principal officers and about 30 other members.