Ventilator purchase scandal: FG deletes tweet to US billionaire, apologises to Nigeria

 Ventilator purchase scandal: FG deletes tweet to US billionaire, apologises to Nigeria

The Federal Government via twitter handle on Thursday pleaded with United States billionaire, Elon Musk, for ventilators to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

The government, however, deleted the tweet soon after and apologised to Nigerians.

Musk, who is the founder and Chief Engineer, SpaceX, had tweeted on Thursday that his firm had extra ventilators that had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration in America.

He tweeted, “We have extra FDA-approved ventilators. We will ship to hospitals worldwide within Tesla delivery regions. Only requirement is that the vents are needed immediately for patients and not stored in a warehouse.”

In its response, the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning tagged the billionaire on Twitter, asking him to assist Nigeria.

The ministry tweeted, “Dear @Elonmusk @Tesla Federal Government of Nigeria needs support with 100 to 500 ventilators to assist with Covid19 cases rising every day in Nigeria.”

The President’s Personal Assistant on New Media, Bashir Ahmad, also appealed to Musk for assistance.

Buhari’s aide tweeted, “Hello Elon, I woke up to this your tweet all over the TL, in this period of worldwide emergency getting ventilators is pretty hard no matter how much money you get, and that’s understandable! Nigeria, my dear country, is in need. Kindly send 100s here, we really need them, thanks!”

On Twitter, however, many Nigerians questioned the propriety of the Federal Government appealing openly on social media for ventilators.

@SmartAudi said the N37bn budgeted for the National Assembly renovation could have bought thousands of ventilators.

@taramasalata001 said it was unfortunate that a rich country like Nigeria could stoop so low.

“Nigeria, being the giant and richest in Africa, should be the one shipping ventilators and other equipment to other African countries to help them to cope with Covid-19 but here we are, begging for support after mismanagement and embezzling public funds for decades. What a shame!” she tweeted.

@AriyoJoshuaOlus said the Federal Government ought to have used diplomatic and business channels to get such help rather than go on social media.

Ironically, automobile firm, Innoson Motors, had last month offered to produce ventilators locally if the Federal Government was willing to partner with it.

The ministry, however, deleted a tweet in which it pleaded with Musk for ventilators to treat the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ministry also issued a statement apologising to Nigerians for the error.

The Special Adviser, Media and Communications, to the minister, Yunusa Abdullahi, said in a statement, that the tweet was not done with the permission of the minister.

The statement read, “An unauthorised post was made on the verified Twitter handle of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning. The fact of the post is regrettable because of which it is brought down. We have made sure our internal processes are strengthened that such doesn’t happen again. The error is highly regrettable.”

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