By Egufe Yafugborhi – Port Harcourt

Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has said its original interest to directly procure ventilators and sundry test and treatment resources to assist its mandate states in the fight against Coronavirus was derailed by setbacks posed by global lockdown on the pandemic.

Managing Director of NDDC, Prof Kemebradikumo Pondei, clarified in Port Harcourt, Rivers state Wednesday that the commission had to simply release funds to the NDDC to spend as deemed fit sensing the difficulties ahead of the initial interest.

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Pondei, a virologist, said, “We wanted to get ventilators. Ventilators use to cost about eight to nine million naira. In one week ventilators have gone to almost N30Million for one. And those who will tell you they have ventilators for sale do not have them in the country.

“Ventilators are in short supply even in the United States. They have converted car manufacturing companies to shift to the production of ventilators. Most times the ones we got in contact with, their delivery date would be the end of April and some in May.

“So why are we to tie up money when we could give it to give to the states which also have made plans to get these things. As per treatment, all the different states have Isolation Units and made plans on how to go about treatment.

“In the long run having discussed with the different states, we didn’t want to duplicate efforts which will end up wasted because we work in synergy.”

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The virologist harped on prevention as the best option to fight the menace of COVID-19 at the moment, urging the people of Niger Delta and Nigerians at large to respect the restrictions being imposed by federal and state governments while also praising efforts of Nigerian health experts at fighting the pandemic.

On the commotion generated by Federal Government’s resolve to bring in Chinese health experts to assist Nigeria in the fight against the pandemic, Pondei objected to the idea, saying there is no justification at the moment as Nigerian health personnel were doing good in their efforts and only need more motivation.



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