The Joint Committee of the National Assembly on Health on Wednesday directed the Ministry of Health to suspend further action on the N10 billion fund disbursed by the Ministry of Finance for the production of COVID-19 vaccines in the country.
The Joint Committee members expressed their dissatisfaction over the inability of the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, to clarify the utilization of the N10 billion for the vaccines production.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Ibrahim Oloriegbe, had remarked that the committee is not satisfied with the explanation of the Minister, issuing directive that the money should not be spent until the Ministry can clarify what the money will be used for.
Oloriegbe had stated: “This N10 billion is just given to you, with due respect, with what you have given to us, you don’t have a specific detailed plan for it. Our decision, for now, is that you can’t spend it until you provide us satisfactory answer. Once you provide us the details, then, we will invite all the necessary persons.”
The Minister of Health had explained that the money was part of an agreement between the Federal Government and a foreign partner, May and Baker plc, for the production of bio vaccines.
Ehanire noted that the Health Ministry is relying on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) the Federal Government has with the foreign partner for the production of bio vaccines.
While the Senate Committee rejected the Minister’s explanation as unsatisfactory, the lawmakers maintained that the N10billion should not be spent until a detailed plan is made available.
Ehanire was accompanied by other representatives including of the Health Ministry who include the Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora; the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, and the Director-General of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib.