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Nigerian lawmakers approve $2.4 bn funds for security, coronavirus vaccines

Nigerian lawmakers approve $2.4 bn funds for security, coronavirus vaccines

Nigerian lawmakers on Wednesday approved some 982.7 billion naira ($2.4 billon) additional budget funds to help the government buy COVID-19 vaccines, and equipment for its security forces.

Africa’s top oil producer, Nigeria is struggling with the economic impact of the pandemic and a slump in crude prices as well as surging violence from criminal gangs and its grinding jihadist insurgency.

The approved amount is $216.8 million higher than President Muhammadu Buhari’s request made to the lawmakers in June and is expected to be sourced through international and local borrowing.

Most of the funds – around 722 billion naira ($1.8 billion) would go towards the procurement of additional equipment for security forces, Senator Barau Jibrin, chair of the senate appropriation committee, said.

Around $111 million required for COVID-19 vaccine programme would be sourced through an existing World Bank loan as well as other grants with another $92.5 million coming from special reserve accounts, Jibrin said.

Nigeria’s security forces are stretched on various fronts, ranging from mass abductions for ransom at schools in the northwest, conflicts between herdsmen and farmers, an Islamist insurgency in its northeast and separatist agitations in other regions.

Africa’s most populous nation had planned to spend $33 billion in 2021, up 21 percent from the previous year but failed to make provisions for funds for the COVID-19 pandemic as procurement terms for vaccines were unclear.

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