The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has advised the federal government to provide the needed resources for Nigerian scientists’ resident abroad to come up with a vaccine that would serve not only the country’s population, but that of other developing countries.
This is important if the government is to achieve its goal of providing ‘herd immunity’ for the country’s over two hundred million population.
Lawan, gave the advice on Wednesday at the Public Presentation of a Research Work on the Legislative Efforts and Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic by the Young Parliamentarians Forum in collaboration with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy in Abuja.
Lawan said that the federal government must explore the option of collaborating with international bodies especially seeing the difficulty posed by the refusal of the European Union and countries such as the United States of America and India to sell vaccines to developing countries.
“Nigeria has the Human Resources to mass produce the quantity of vaccines needed to achieve ‘herd immunity’ for the country’s population and that of other developing countries in need of the vaccine.
“Let’s also for example consider the vaccine production that today is becoming a necessity for almost every country.
” Today, the United States of America (USA) is trying to ensure that no vaccine leaves its shores until it is able to vaccinate its citizens to provide herd immunity.
” The European Union is doing the same thing, India that produces quite a lot of vaccines with over one billion population is also controlling and stopping exports. Where does that leave us?” he asked.
Insisting that the government stands a better chance of cashing in on the patriotism of Nigerians abroad, the Senate President said that Nigeria must look for ways to collaborate “with citizens who are now either holding dual citizenships in other countries, or are simply our citizens who have gone to other countries for greener pastures for us to have our own vaccines.”
If this is not done, he said Nigeria may not achieve the herd immunity in the next four or five years with her 200 million population.
He also regretted that in the next two or three years, and at the rate of interventions by the government, Nigeria may not be able to vaccinate up to 70 per cent of her citizens with the Corona-Virus antidote.
“With our two hundred million and even more, so far, we have only about four million, I don’t know how we can get seventy percent of our people vaccinated, and that will translate to about one hundred and fifty million or even more to vaccinate them in the next two years or even three years.
“So, we need to work hard, provide the legislative intervention in terms of resources and environment for our scientists to work.
“I listened to a Nigerian scientist who is based in the US yesterday, and he said it’ll require only one year for a Nigeria project to get its own vaccine. And the vaccine is not supposed to be for Nigerians only, and that is why we need international collaboration.
“It’ll be a vaccine that can be easily used by other countries, even though when we are able to achieve that, we also target our population first like all other countries are doing.”
Also speaking at the event, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who was represented by the Chairman of the Young Parliamentarian Forum, Hon. Kabir Ibrahim Tukur, said the Covid-19 pandemic created unprecedented challenges to legislative duties across the world.