As Nigeria poises for a growing pandemic with the potential to wreak havoc to its fledgling healthcare system, it appears no measure is off the table. Begging a US billionaire for instance.
Just days after the Federal Government reassured Nigerians of its preparedness for the crisis, billionaire US inventor and founder of the popular electronic car company Tesla, Elon Musk, tweeted “We have extra FDA-approved ventilators. Will ship to hospitals worldwide within Tesla delivery regions. Device & shipping cost are free. Only requirement is that the vents are needed immediately for patients, not stored in a warehouse. Please me or @Tesla know.”
The tweet would have gone unnoticed by most Nigerians had the Twitter handle of the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning not gone under it to comment:
“Dear @elonmusk @Tesla Federal Government of Nigeria needs support with 100-500 ventilators to assist with #Covid19 cases arising every day in Nigeria.”
The comment has sparked a Twitter debate on why Nigeria should be caught dead doing such a thing. The country has proven for years that it is capable of budgeting thousands of US dollars to purchase the latest car models for its senators, while still paying those senators a whopping 450,000 USD annually.
A baffled Naija Twitter has been going back and forth, first berating the country’s leadership for a clear demonstration of failure, then agreeing that indeed, the nation can use the intervention.
Major private sector players have contributed a total of 15bn Naira as reported by CBN earlier today. Enough to equip the nation with nearly 10 times as many ventilators as the government parastatal is begging for under Mr. Musk’s tweet.
A ventilator is estimated to cost no more than 15000 US dollars, and with reports coming out that Nigeria as a whole has no more than 300 ventilators nationwide, this is the best time for the nation to invest its resources in procuring these machines as it prepares to face the pandemic.
The numbers of Coronavirus cases in the country continue to rise even as 3 states are in the 3rd day of lockdown. Whether the lockdown is all that the government is doing to curb the spread of the virus is yet to be ascertained, but it can be conjectured that it could be considering that the parastatals in charge of handling this crisis appear just as helpless as everyone.
As we hunker down to help flatten the curve, and stem the rising crisis, the need to maintain unwavering hope in the fact that we will in fact get through, With or without Mr. Musk, is ever more paramount.