BY EMEKA EJERE
BUA Group, one of Nigeria’s largest business conglomerates, has taking its fight against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with a payment for one million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines for the country, with a commitment to buy additional four million doses – all to be distributed to Nigerians at no cost.
The vaccine purchase is being undertaken through BUA-CACOVID-AFREXIM partnership, a coalition of private sector operators helping governments and championing the fight against the pandemic.
The first batch of one million doses of the vaccine, which is expected to be delivered by next week, will be the first delivery of inoculations to Nigeria since the COVID-19 vaccines became available.
Philanthropist and Founder of BUA Abdul Samad Rabiu said the vaccines will be distributed free to Nigerians at no cost.
He hailed the President of the Afrexim Bank, Prof Benedict Oramah for making the purchase possible and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, for coordinating the process through the CACOVID private sector partnership.
“BUA decided to secure these one million vaccines by paying the full amount for the vaccines today because these vaccines became available only last week through AFREXIM. We expect the vaccines to be delivered within the next 14 days and hope priority will be given to our frontline workers who have committed their lives to managing the pandemic,” Rabiu said.
He added that BUA is committing to purchase five million doses for Nigeria as soon as they become available through the same arrangement.
This development effectively pushes Africa’s most populous nation to the front of the queue in vaccine procurement.
Recall that Rabiu had at the heat of the first wave of the pandemic made a cash donation of N1 billion through the BUA Foundation and took it a step further by placing orders for additional equipment and medical supplies, including testing kits and protective gear to nine states across the country: Lagos, Kano, Adamawa, Edo, Kwara, Rivers, Abia, Akwa-Ibom and Sokoto.
Rabiu is the founder of BUA Group, a conglomerate that engages in the sugar refining, cement manufacturing, real estate, and port operations. He is the third richest man in Nigeria, according to Forbes with $3.13 billion net worth.
“Each of these nine states will receive about 100,000 protective facemasks, 1000 high-grade medical protection and isolation gear, 2000 protective goggles, 1000 gloves and 1000 testing kits among other things,” Rabiu had stated.
The BUA Group also made a separate donation of N300 million to Sokoto, Edo and Ogun States to help trigger a coordinated response in the fight against COVID-19. BUA Cement has its major operations in the benefitting states, even as Ogun State was selected as a beneficiary due to its proximity to Lagos, the epicenter of the pandemic in Nigeria.