THE Senate has doubted the ability of the Federal Ministry of Health to effectively store and distribute the COVID-19 vaccines when they arrived in the country.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and his colleagues expressed the reservation when its leadership met with the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, and his counterpart in the Ministry of Finance and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed.
The ministers were in the Senate to brief the leadership of the upper chamber about the Federal Government plans to procure COVID-19 vaccines worth N400bn to save the lives of Nigerians.
The President of the Senate expressed lack of confidence in the preparedness of the Federal Government to manage the COVID-19 vaccination in the country.
Lawan said the National Assembly was ready to support the funding of adequate vaccines to save Nigerians but that the officials of the Ministry of Health must convince the Parliament that they had adequate facilities and manpower to protect the preventive substance.
“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’m also a doubting Ahmad.”
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, also joined in expressing concern in the ability of the health officials to guarantee the safety of the vaccines.
He said, “I am a doubting Omo Agege also.”
The Health minister, Ehanire, however, insisted that the country, which had successfully fought polio, would use the same storage facilities (cold chains) to store the COVID-19 vaccines.
Ehanire urged the Senate to have confidence in the plan for COVID-19 vaccine campaign.
The minister said about N400bn would be required to vaccinate 70 per cent of Nigerians 211 million population, at $8 per person.
He said N156bn would be needed in 2021 while N200bn in 2022.