By Ismaila Chafe, Abuja.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the commencement of a process that will enhance the indigenisation of vaccine production in Nigeria.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, made this known when he briefed journalists at the end of the FEC’s meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday in Abuja.
Ehanire said: “The Council considered a memorandum from the Ministry of Health today, which has to do with the first stage in indigenising vaccine production in Nigeria, the standard programme on immunization, not COVID-19 vaccine.
“As you know, the government has a joint venture agreement and formed the company called Bio-Vaccine Nigeria Limited, which is to start producing vaccines domestically.
“Now, they are sourcing for international partners, who will join them and give them the technology transfer that they require.
“And after going to various countries, South Africa, Indonesia, they settled with a Serum Institute of India, which will now be the technical partner to support them in setting up the vaccine production plant in Nigeria.
“But of course, the Serium Institute of India they have engaged is the largest vaccine producer in the world, and it also has vaccines that are approved by World Health Organization.”
The minister also disclosed that with this development, Serum Institute of India would join hands with Bio-Vaccine Nigeria to build their manufacturing plant in Nigeria.
The plant is to be located in Ogun State, with the Nigerian company having 15 per cent of the market share.
“So, who will buy it? So, government now has approved 15 per cent of the vaccines that UNICEF normally supplies us for Bio-Vaccine to supply to through contract manufacturing, Serum Institute of India.
“And with this, Serum Institute of India will now be comfortable enough to come and join Bio-Vaccine of Nigeria, in building their manufacturing plant here in Ota, Nigeria.
“So, that arrangement has now been approved by the Federal Executive Council for Bio-Vaccine Nigeria to have 15 per cent of the market share.
“It will be used for contract manufacturing of those vaccines as an initial step, over the next few years when the plant in Nigeria starts to work.
“So, that was the approval that the council gave today,” he said.
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Muhammed Bello, who also spoke on the outcome of the meeting, said the Council approved N28 billion for the provision of roads and other infrastructure in Wasa District in the fringes of the FCT
He said: “I presented a memo for the augmentation of the contract sum for the development of the Wasa affordable district in the southern borders of the Federal Capital City, Abuja, and the augmentation was in the sum of N28, 117, 904, 027.
“The initial contract for that project was awarded in 2014 at the sum of N56 billion.
“But as time went by and due to inflation and some other factors, we had to vary the contract and the price in order to reflect current realities.
“That is the reason why the augmentation request was presented to Council and Council approved that.”
Bello added that the completion period for the contract had also been extended to 42 months.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Timipre Sylva also told the correspondents that the Council approved N2.044 billion for the provision of internal roads and drainages at the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board’s Gas Hub in Bayelsa.
According to him, the gas hub is meant to encourage the development of companies that will process the Nigerian gas for export as well as promote the use of gas internally.
“Council today approved the contract to construct internal roads and bridges in the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board’s Gas Hub located at Polaku in Bayelsa, and the contract sum is N2.044 billion.
“The gas hub is to encourage the development of companies that will process and develop our gas for export and try to deepen the use of gas internally as well as construct gas cylinders.
“Already there are companies that are in the gas hub.
“So, these drainages and roads and the entire development of that area is to encourage more companies to come into the area. in furtherance of our commitment to the Decade of Gas from 2021 to 2030, as declared by the President,” Sylva said.