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Dear Ignorant Nigerian, Yes We Should Beg For Ventilators

By Umar Sa'ad Hassan


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For the umpteenth time, coronavirus is real. It is not an illusionary tactic of the illuminati neither is it an enrichment ploy by politicians as a man recently accused Governor El-Rufai of in a video.

The very first problem to the effective tackling of this health crisis is getting all Nigerians to understand this illness and the grave danger it portends.

If there is anything to be made of the massive outcry that greeted the tweet by the Federal Ministry of Finance pleading with American billionaire Elon Musk to send 100-500 ventilators he offered to giveaway to countries that needed it,it is that majority of Nigerians are yet to fully understand what they are dealing with.

The author, Umar Sa’ad Hassan

The man doubting the existence of coronavirus on the streets is no different from the ‘enlightened’ mind on social media criticizing the plea for medical ventilators.

According to the World Health Organization, 80% of people with Covid-19 (the disease caused by Coronavirus) recover without needing hospital treatment and also that 1 out of 6 persons becomes very ill and may experience breathing difficulties.

This on the mere surface, appears to be soothing but you only need to check the reality on ground in places ravaged by this ailment to understand why ‘1 out of 6’ and ‘may’ should not give anyone a false sense of relief.Covid-19 is a respiratory illness which in severe cases collapses the lungs; a patient’s hope of survival from that point on depends entirely on the ability to pump oxygen into their system; that is where a ventilator comes in.

The demand for it right now is so high it isn’t just lying around to be bought. There is a shortage and countries right now are either forcing or pleading with car manufacturing companies to partner with health experts to produce them.

There was a very touching story about a week ago of a 72 year old Italian Priest who died after leaving his ventilator for a younger person to use.

At the moment, Italy which has recorded 13,915 deaths so far from Covid-19 has been forced to improvise with 3D printed scuba masks because there aren’t enough ventilators.

Its order for 4,000 to a medical company in Switzerland, Hamilton Medicals ended with only 400 being sent over due to a scarcity. Spain has also joined Italy now in improvising with scuba masks. These are all countries much richer and better managed than Nigeria.

With all the money at their disposal, they can’t procure ventilators because there is a global shortage. The person managing the twitter handle of the Nigerian Ministry of Finance deserves a national award for spotting an opportunity to help this country and moving fast.

Right under Elon Musk’s tweet the last time I checked were replies from the Ukranian embassy, a former Ukranian Minister of Health and the leader of a province in Argentina all begging him to send ventilators their way.

But No, the enlightened moron from Nigeria is asking why we should be begging for ventilators while Buhari has amassed billions for the fight against coronavirus. They were very loud.

The finance minister who doesn’t quite have a reputation for being fore-sighted and hasn’t impressed with a single fiscal policy so far, agreed with them and through her media aide, announced that the tweet was unauthorized, highly regrettable and had been deleted.

Are we cursed? Say the billions at Buhari’s beck and call could actually get us enough ventilators at this time, wouldn’t it be better if we saved money by getting 100+ free from Musk and diverting the sum to something else like adequately catering for the poor, helpless Nigerians that have been asked to stay home?.

If you say we should have been more ‘professional’ about it, don’t you think indicating interest in public before doing so in private will prove to the man how badly we need them or that Ukraine and others that did so publicly too may have an edge over those that didn’t need it enough to do so?.

You lose every right to blame Buhari when you are a part of the problem yourself.

We wouldn’t have been in this mess today if the President had responded to the numerous calls to restrict travels from coronavirus hot spots after the very first case for the simple reason that what more advanced nations are struggling to contain would do much more damage in a place like Nigeria.

We are currently at 190 cases; a figure many say is so only because a lot of persons that had contact with index cases are unaccounted for. Just like those they have also had contact with.

Such persons and perhaps other people they may have infected can only be rounded up when the illness creeps in.

Buhari delayed the needful but anyone under-playing the importance of procuring ventilators is just as short-sighted as he is. Anyone thinking America and others will rush to our aid if things get worse better make out time to find out the situation in the US at the moment.

President Trump had to force General Motors, a private company to make ventilators under the Defense Production Act after it demanded $1 billion for its troubles.

This is a country whose hospitals have a combined 160,000 ventilators and the government another 12,750 it has saved for national emergencies. THAT IS NOWHERE NEAR ENOUGH.

Right now, the Federal government along with a few states have received billions from well-meaning individuals and corporations but all they seem to be concerned about is building isolation centres.

Ventilators? Maybe when people start dying in numbers.

Nigerian car maker, Innoson motors is seeking a N4billion loan from government to start making them and even the man has admitted that he lacks the resources to produce the amount required to get us through a critical stage.

If we had proactive leaders, they would have been the ones making enquiries from Innoson and not the other way round.

By now, NAFDAC and other regulatory agencies would have either approved his ventilator and started storing them or advised government to look elsewhere for the right quality.

The glorified vegetable at Aso Rock who weighs it an achievement to just show us he is alive and well has proven right from the onset that he doesn’t move till things get out of hand.

Right now Nigerians true to the saying ‘you get the leaders you deserve’ are castigating a laudable attempt to get us free ventilators. They obviously don’t know as much as they should. God help us.

Umar Sa’ad Hassan is based in Kano; Twitter-@Alaye_100; Email-uhassan077@gmail.com.

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