The Guardian
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With powerful backers, controversial vaccine bill defies resistance

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Contrary to insinuations in some quarters, the decision to set the legislative term plate for the administration of COVID-19 preventive vaccine predated the death of President Muhammadu Buhari’s former Chief of Staff (CoS), Mallam Abba Kyari.

Some commentators had claimed that the bill, which has gone through a second reading in the National Assembly, was prompted by the death of the former CoS, who allegedly contracted the deadly virus after his travel to Germany on a national assignment.

But confidential sources in the presidency disclosed that lobbyists working for an influential international business conglomerate had initiated discussions with two prominent Nigerians who are at the commanding height of manufacturing and banking industries in the country.

One of the sources disclosed how a high-powered delegation visited the Villa towards the end of January 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 anxieties in the international community, noting that the idea of having a legislative framework for the vaccine was mooted at the meeting with the former CoS.

“After the visit, the former CoS recalled the speech of the former Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi at the 64th United Nations General Assembly in 2009 and was actually discussing how Gaddafi accurately understood the mentality of the western nations with some of his aides.

“Those who say the bill is a recent development do not know how the journey started. The former CoS was involved at some point. He had a well known businessman from the north and a top banker as part of those pushing for strategies to adopt for Nigeria’s buy-in, especially given that one of the sponsors have made tremendous contributions to the nation’s socio-economic well being,” he explained.

Gaddafi had at the 64th UNGA stated in direct allusion to the industrialised western capital, “they will create the viruses themselves and sell you the antidotes. Thereafter, they will pretend to take time to find the solution when they already have it.”

Another source, a senior civil servant attached to the Villa clinic, said the only way to ascertain those involved in the vaccine legislation was to look into the office of the late CoS, pointing out that when one of his friends was talking about how he (the late CoS) was working tirelessly to see how to protect Nigerians from the coronavirus scourge, “it is possible that he was referring to meetings he had with the Americans.”

As the bill continues to generate controversies, it is unlikely it would not be passed into law, given the level of background work that went into its formulation and the high-profile individuals behind its journey to the National Assembly.


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