Olusegun Mimiko, the immediate past governor of Ondo State, has asked Nigeria and Nigerians to look inwards as it faces the COVID-19 challenge.
Mimiko in a statement titled ‘Just thinking aloud’ released in Akure on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 said the time is now for Nigerians to prepare for the worst-case scenario and look inwards to carve out its own peculiar strategies.
Mimiko who said the president’s recent address should give added momentum to the combat against the killer virus added that the most crucial equipment at the clinical stage is the mechanical ventilator, the scarcity of which is now global – “obviously, Nigeria does not have enough to match a population of about 200 million people”
He counseled that Nigeria, while trying to procure more of this life-saving gadget which are hardly available anyway, should “start mobilizing massively for manual ventilators and start training paramedics who may be called to use them as instruments of last resort in an emergency.”
In his words, “Even New York is already making arrangements in case it needs to go through that route.
“I am sure that if we ransack medical stores in hospitals around the country, we may be able to retrieve a lot of old fashioned manual ventilators that can be fixed for use and also importantly to serve as prototype for local production,” he said.
Mimiko further adds that “local companies like Innoson Motors, though may face challenges trying to produce modern type mechanical ventilators because of sofisticated softwares and sophisticated electronic parts, will produce any type of manual ventilators quickly as would other similar or related local industries, if challenged.
“After all, the basic principle of most types of ventilators, positive pressure creators, is more or less the same as that of time honored bellows that our traditional smiths were so dexterous at”
He expressed doubts about any effort by government official to engage Innoson since their reported claim to have the capacity to produce ventilators.
He therefore recommends “immediate engagement of Innoson and such other concern as could quickly manufacture manual ventilators.
“Simultaneously, we must start mobilizing our local capacity and start building oxygen plants for what may turn out to be an astronomical demand”
The former Ondo governor stressed that social distancing is a major way to stop further spread of the virus. “May I state that in light of our obvious limited capacity to test, trace or treat or cope in case of a blowout, social or more correctly, physical distancing remains, the best arrow in our quiver”
He added that the troubling issue is how to sustain a stay at home order when perhaps up to 40 percent of our adult population earn their daily bread on daily basis.
“We are quick to complain of lack of data, but we have BVN. I’m told we have 40billion BVN accounts. Adopting a benchmark of say annual turn over of say below 360,000 Naira needing palliative, and assuming that up to 50 percent, i.e. 20million qualify for palliative, say 20,000 Naira each, that will amount to just about 40billion Naira which we must find! This is without prejudice to other commendable palliatives like cash transfers, Trader Moni etc.
“Alignment of data base, I am assured, will quickly ensure nobody benefits twice,” Mimiko said.
While appreciating governors “that are already trying to provide food palliatives to households, Mimiko said “leveraging digital tech will surely help” saying “In 2016, in Ondo State, we delivered food palliatives to about 150,000 households, seamlessly in 3weeks!”
Mimiko commended frontline workers, the federal ministry of health and the NCDC.