By Divine Nwaoguji-Nweke
The Director of Corporate Communications, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Isaac Okorafor has reasoning why the Bank approved over N10 billion loans and grants to facilitate pharmaceutical and healthcare-related research by groups and organizations under the COVID-19 intervention scheme.
Okorafor, who disclosed this in Abuja said several other applications were also being processed, pending approval.
He said the applications covered the two broad categories under the COVID-19 intervention programmes in the healthcare sector.
He explained that the two categories were grants and/or loans for pharmaceutical and healthcare-related researches on COVID-19.
Okorafor who was reacting to criticisms by some groups that CBN and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 were not disbursing the funds to applicants said, “anyone castigating the CBN and the PTF for the grant component is just being mischievous,”.
“Grants are guided by procedures and not a free for all. The grants and loans have to be applied for and processed. There are guidelines which must be followed.
“There are qualifications for grants, and they have to be met, which in this case must include authentication by relevant government agencies such as the Nigerian Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on the scientific foundation of such research,” he said.
The CBN spokesperson said even where grants may be seen as free, they are not just handed out to anyone who stretches out their hands.
“Applicants must have a plan detailing demonstrable and genuine scientific efforts, intentions, and above all, accompanied by a formal application requesting for the loan,” he said.
Okorafor who noted that those behind the criticism to be some persons who have an aversion for due process, said the CBN would not be discouraged from following the right procedures in the disbursement of the loans.
He advised those interested in the facilities to follow the due process and submit applications for the grant and stop using the media to ridicule the good intentions of the apex bank.