“Dear @elonmusk @tesla Federal Government of Nigeria needs support with 100-500 ventilators to assist with #COVID-19 cases arising every day in Nigeria,” the ministry tweeted.
Musk, the founder, CEO and chief engineer and designer of SpaceX; early investor, CEO and product architect of Tesla, responded with his own tweet.
“We have extra FDA-approved ventilators. We will ship to hospitals worldwide within Tesla delivery regions. Device & shipping cost are free. Only requirement is that the vents are needed immediately for patients, not stored in a warehouse. Please me or @Tesla know.”
The shocking tweet triggered disbelief among Nigerians and reinforced the widely held belief that the communication department at the Nigerian ministry of finance had often acted indecently in public.
It also exposed one known fact: Nigeria, like most countries in Africa, does not have the capacity to produce ventilators and should the crisis escalate, the death toll may be high.
But more importantly, it betrayed the unprofessionalism in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in communicating or negotiating with foreign business and political entities.
Even more disturbing, it seemed to show a minister of finance Zainab Ahmed overwhelmed and being given tasks that may fall under the repository of the minister of health at a time of a major health crisis.
Her spokesman Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi claimed the tweet on the verified account of the ministry was an “unauthorized post” and it had been “brought down”.
“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,” he wrote.