The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), has blamed its inability to distribute ventilators and other test kits to its mandate states on global lockdown over the Coronavirus pandemic.
Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, NDDC Managing Director, gave the clarification in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, following his recent promise that NDDC would supply ventilators and drugs to nine Niger Delta states.
The states are, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers.
According to him, NDDC has since released the funds to the nine state governments to support their fight against the Coronavirus outbreak in the country.
“Initially, we wanted to get ventilators but we could not. Ventilators which used to cost about eight to nine million naira for one; in one week went up to almost N30 million.
“Also, we found out that most of the people who said they can supply the equipment, do not have them in the country.
“Again, ventilators are now in short supply even in the U.S. The prices have also skyrocketed,” he said.
Pondei, a virologist, said that ventilators were in high demand globally as many countries continued to struggle with the pandemic.
“Most times, the ones (companies) we got in contact with, told us that the equipment would be delivered to us by end of April, and some in May.
“So, rather than tie up the money, we decided to give funds to the states, since the states had made plans to get the ventilators.
“Having discussed with the state governments, we didn’t want to duplicate efforts which will end up wasted. We are working in synergy,” he explained.
The managing director said the states had all opened isolation centres and were also formulating procedures on treatment of COVID-19 patients.
He dismissed the various conspiracy theorists claims that radiation from 5G network was responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to him, there is no scientific evidence that links COVID-19 to 5G network or that the virus is laboratory engineered.
“Rather than being distracted by this debate, Nigerians should instead focus their attention by following simply health tips, such as social distancing and regular washing of hands with soap, among others.
“We urge the people of Niger Delta and Nigerians at large to respect the restrictions being imposed by both the Federal and state governments. We also salute our health experts,” he added.
Pondei appealed to government to formulate a comprehensive health insurance scheme that would offer all Nigerian citizens universal health coverage.