Coronavirus Updates

April 2, 2020

COVID-19:  Twitter followers berate FG for begging Elon Musk for ventilators

Giving is for the needy not the greedy, says Apostle Suleman

Bashir Ahmad’s tweet.

By Prince Osuagwu, Hi-Tech Editor

The Federal Government has come under attack for going on social media to beg Elon Musk, the United States billionaire, for ventilators to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.”

Ministry, presidential aide beg

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.”

However, it is not only the ministry that saw begging Musk for ventilators as imperative, Personal Assistant on New Media to President Muhammadu Buhari, Bashir Ahmad, on his  twitter handle, @BashirAhmaad also escalated the ministry’s effort.

He 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.”

ALSO READ: Elon Musk offers to make ventilators to help coronavirus patients


Although the Federal Ministry of Health had, subsequently, denied the report, it did not stop many Nigerians twitter followers, angered by such move, to berate the federal government and questioned the propriety of appealing openly on social media for ventilators.

They used their twitter handles to vent their anger.

Deji Adeyanju, @adeyanjudeji said: “One ventilator is around$10,000 which is approximately N3.5M. 500 ventilators which the government is begging Elon Musk for will just be N1.7 billion. They claimed to share N5 billion to their so-called poor people just yesterday; hopeless and heartless government”.

@SmartAudi said: “The N37bn budgeted for NASS renovation should be used to purchase ventilators. They won’t have constituencies to provide over if people die out of lack of equipment. This country under you people is in a mess because you have no priority at all,” he tweeted.

@AsiwajuLerry tweeted, “Are we that broke in this country? All those billion naira donations, wetin una dey take am do (sic)?”

@taramasalata001 said: “Nigeria, being the giant and richest in Africa, should be the one shipping ventilators and other equipment to other African countries to help them cope with COVID-19 but here we are, begging for support after mismanagement and embezzling public funds for decades. What a shame!”

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

@Kcnaija tweeted, “With a budget of over N10tn and borrowings of $22.7bn, we are begging for 100 to 500 ventilators. Nigeria as a country is a mess, a total potpourri of jokes. So, we didn’t have ventilators and our President and public officers go abroad for medical tourism?”

BBOG, too

Bring Back Our Girls co-convener, Aisha Yesufu, said it was ironic that Nigeria, which had not been encouraging tech companies could beg a tech billionaire for help.

She tweeted, “The same Nigeria that is begging @elonmusk is the same Nigeria that has been harassing and killing young tech people in Nigeria. They bullied everyone with laptop and did everything to kill their dreams. They refused to heed citizens shouting end SARS.”

Apostle Suleman

Apparently in explaining that this is why he has never donated to government towards COVID-19, a popular religious leader, Apostle Suleman @APOSTLESULEMAN said: “I hear people are calling me out for not giving money to government to combat COVID-19.

“Government is not hungry, why should I give them? God will reward my wife and I for the hundreds of millions we have given this period. We give to the poor directly. Giving is for the needy not for the greedy.”

Meanwhile, same Elon Musk is being criticised for appearing to send BiPAP machines, not life-support ventilators, to a hospital in New York.

In a tweet, New York City Hospitals thanked Musk and Tesla for sending “40 ventilators” to Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, New York.

But the photo appears to show a BiPAP machine, which is more commonly used for problems like sleep apnea, rather than one of the larger, more expensive life-support ventilators that hospitals around the country are asking for to treat coronavirus patients.