Over N10 billion loans and grants have been approved for various groups and organisations for pharmaceutical and healthcare-related research, under the COVID-19 intervention scheme, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said.
The spokesperson of the CBN, Isaac Okorafor, who confirmed this in Abuja on Sunday, said several other applications were also being processed, pending approval.
Mr Okorafor said the applications covered the two broad categories under the COVID-19 intervention programmes in the healthcare sector.
He identified the two categories as the loan programme and grants and/or loans for pharmaceutical and healthcare-related researches on COVID-19.
The second category announced about two weeks ago by the CBN was aimed at helping the effort to find a local alternative cure to the dreaded coronavirus.
On the loan component, about N10 billion worth of applications have already been approved and many more are being processed.
Mr Okorafor was reacting to criticisms by some groups that CBN and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 was not disbursing the funds to applicants
“Anyone castigating the CBN and the PTF for the grant component is just being mischievous,” Mr Okorafor said.
“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.
Noting that he suspected those behind the criticism to be some persons who have an aversion for due process, Mr Okorafor 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 regulatory body.