Reps summon finance minister, DG budget over ‘controversial’ waivers

Says FG earmarks N396bn for COVID-19 vaccination

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru 

ABUJA–THe Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, yesterday attributed the delay in sending supplementary budget to the National Assembly for the purchase of military hardwares to the delay by the Military to submit the aggregate amount required for the purchase of the needed equipment. 

The Minister also said that the Federal Government has budgeted N396 billion for the provision of COVID-19 vaccine in the 2022 Appropriation. 

Mrs. Ahmed stated this while fielding questions from State House correspondents at the end of the virtual Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja. 

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Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the National Assembly led by the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila met at the State House to agree on raising supplementary budget for the military to execute the fight against banditry and insurgency. 

Besides, the Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, and governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi also met with the President on Monday where he expressed the worry of State Governors over the worsening security situation in the country. 

Fielding question on the amount expected to be forwarded in the supplementary budget request for the purchase of military equipment, the Minister said that both the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor and the Service Chiefs were yet to put the total sum required together which will be forwarded to the President for approval. 

She said, “For the military hardware, 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.” 

Also commenting on the supplementary budget for COVID-19 vaccine, she said, “Sometime in January, the President has based on the request by the Ministry of Health given in principle approval 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 have worked with that and met several times with the ministry, we have agreed to back out from this building of primary health care centres, that can wait till later. 

So there is still a provision of 396 billion for COVID-19 vaccinations for 2021 and 2022. 

“There has 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 back the donated vaccines, and at the speed of the current rollout, we have to slow down on what we are buying ourselves. 

“So the ministry is working with partners that are donating this vaccines. 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 u, it is still work in progress. We hope in the next couple of days, we will have clarity on the schedule of vaccines expected from donors, and then we will now be able to firm up what government has to provide for in 2021. And therefore the 2022 component we will provide it during the 2022 appropriations.”

Vanguard News Nigeria 


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