Buhari’s Frivolous Medical Trips Abroad
When the presidency announced that the out-going (thank God) President Muhammadu Buhari would be visiting the United Kingdom for the coronation of Charles III and his wife, Camilla, as King and Queen Consort of the United Kingdom penultimate Saturday, something told me that the presidency was telling its usual lies and that the president ultimately was going for a medical trip. And I said that openly to those around me.
Now, the president is human and like every other human being, is liable to fall ill and deserves all the best the country can give as a nation to its president. But I dare ask, must the best healthcare be delivered outside this country? What image is the president portraying of Nigeria to the larger world? That we can’t even treat his dental challenge locally?
Sadly, last week on this page we had admonished the Nigerian government for its total failure in the area of healthcare delivery. We also attributed the fate of Senator Ike Ekweremadu to the fact that their regular recourse to medical tourism is the reason healthcare delivery in Nigeria has remained in its poor state. Now, what can be more ridiculous than the report by the presidency that the president is staying back, at tax-payers expense just to see a dentist?
This is the same Buhari that the presidency wants Nigerians to believe is leading a Spartan life. How can anyone reconcile the fact that a president who has travelled abroad for all of the eight years he has spent would again travel to London just to see a dentist?
A statement signed by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, last Tuesday, explained that the specialist required seeing the President for a procedure already initiated.
In June 2016, President Buhari flew to London for a visit to treat an ear infection.
In July 2021 while trying to rationalize the president’s frequent trips abroad for treatments, Adesina had said one of the reasons the president constantly travels to the United Kingdom for his medical needs is that he has over 40 years of patronage with his doctors.
Adesina noted that it was advisable for the president to stay with those with his medical records since he could afford it.
“It is advisable that he continues with those who know his medical history and that is why he comes to London to see them. He has used the same medical team for over 40 years. Once you can afford it, then stay with the team that has your history,” Adesina said.
Meanwhile, when former President, Umaru Yar’Adua, fell sick in 2009 and left the country for medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, Buhari, then a presidential candidate, said Yar’Adua should be declared incapacitated and unfit to rule the country and further called for the late President’s resignation or impeachment.
Similarly, on January 4, 2010, during the same period of Yar’Adua’s illness, the Action Congress of Nigeria, which later merged with Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change and others, equally demanded a “visual” proof that an ailing President Yar’Adua was fit enough to govern the country after weeks in the hospital overseas.
The party, in a statement by its then-National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, now Minister of Information, had specifically demanded “concrete” evidence of Yar’Adua’s physical condition, suggesting a dated video recording of the former president in his Saudi Arabia hospital room.
Mohammed had said, “Since the president left these shores over 40 days ago, we do not know who has really seen him or who has not. Information on the state of health of the president should not be left in the hands of unscrupulous spin doctors, the Aondoakaas and the PDPs [Peoples Democratic Party] of this world, who have been muddling the waters just to serve their own selfish purposes.
“It is clear to discerning Nigerians that those pretending to speak authoritatively on the President’s health are deceiving the public since they are neither well informed on the issue nor competent to speak on it.
“Therefore, a daily briefing by the Minister of Information, based on authentic details provided by the president’s doctors, should start forthwith. As we have said many times, the health of the president, as a public figure, can no longer be of interest only to his family and friends. Nigerians have a right to know.”
Whatever goes around indeed comes around. While we can excuse Yar’adua, God rests his gentle soul, what do we make of the Buhari experience where all manner of flimsy reasons have been given for his frequent trips abroad.
One thing this Buhari’s presidency has achieved is that it has successfully exposed the president for who he really is. It has exposed the fact all the positive attributes ascribed to him were indeed misplaced. It would have been better if he did not return as president.
Under the same administration, in July 22, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, underwent a surgical procedure on his femur at the Duchess International Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos. The VP treatment at the hospital was carried out by about seven local doctors. Imagine what that singular action would have done to the image of the hospital and the country. Even though the hospital is a private hospital it is still better compared to the president who has never been seen in any local hospital all through his eight-year reign.
If the argument by Adesina is anything to go by, Osinbajo too could have gone abroad since he too could afford it.
Our consolation is that exactly two weeks from today (Monday, May 29) it will be good riddance to bad rubbish.