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Nigeria president asks lawmakers for funds for Covid-19 vaccines, military

23 June 2021 - 10:08 By Reuters
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. File Photo
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. File Photo
Image: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Nigeria's president asked parliament to approve 895.8 billion naira ($2.18 billion) as extra budgetary provision to fund the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines and military equipment, according to a letter seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

The government has said it will draw up a supplementary budget to cover the cost of COVID-19 vaccinations, for which no provision was made in the 2021 finance bill adopted in December.

Nigeria had planned to spend 13.6 trillion naira ($33.10 billion) in 2021, up 21% from the previous year.

President Muhammadu Buhari proposed to fund 45.63 billion naira of the 83.56 billion naira required for the COVID-19 vaccine by drawing on existing World Bank loans as well as other grants totalling $113.22 million.

"The availability of COVID-19 vaccines and the procurement terms were still uncertain at the time of finalizing the 2021 budget," Buhari said in his letter to parliament.

Nigeria plans to issue $3 billion or more in Eurobonds as international capital markets (ICM) open up and interest rates decline, after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted markets last year.

Buhari said the health ministry and primary healthcare agency has developed a COVID-19 program for the country that intends to vaccinate 70% of eligible Nigerians this year and next.

In addition to purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, the president asked for more funds for the military.

"Our security and law enforcement agencies urgently need to procure additional equipment and other resources in response to the prevalent security challenges across the country," he said.

Nigeria faces rising insecurity - ranging from mass abductions at schools, kidnappings for ransom, armed conflict between herdsmen and farmers, armed robberies and various insurgencies - that has been a drag on growth and job creation.