The Republic of Madagascar has asked Nigeria to pay 170,000 Euros (about N78million) for the quantity of its COVID-19 cure drugs sent to the Federal Government.
The quantity of the consignment sent to Nigeria through Guinea Bissau could not be ascertained yesterday.
Guinea Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo, who visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House in Abuja on Saturday, brought the drugs allocated to Nigeria by Madagascar.
President Buhari said Nigeria would take the drug through intensive test to determine its suitability.
A source on Sunday told The Nation that: “For our consignments in Guinea Bissau, Madagascar has asked Nigeria to pay over €170,000 (N78,200,000). We have received the invoice because the African country has made us to realise that the drugs are not being given out free.
“We are being asked to pay for the drugs yet to be validated. Since the AU directed the supply of the drugs to African countries, we may have no choice than to pay for it.
“This payment may, however, be one-off because mass importation of the drugs from Madagascar will not be cost effective. By the time we take into account the cost of freight, the amount will be too high.
“This is why we are looking at local options available to us as a nation.
“Some researchers have told us that we have richer herbs to contain COVID-19. In fact, a shop in Wuse 2, Abuja has been discovered to be selling Artemisia Tea with high potency than COV drugs.
“As a nation, we will leave all options open and look inwards. But, we will subject Madagascar herbal drugs to verification or validation.
“The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 is also thinking of asking the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) to relax the protocols and hasten the validation of local drugs for COVID-19.:
The NAFDAC and NIPRD are awaiting the samples from Madagascar for validation.
A highly-placed source in NIPRD said: “We are yet to get the samples for testing and validation. We are hopeful that this week, we might receive them. Our team is on the alert.”