Buhari’s reextended medical vacation sparks controversy


On Monday, February 20, 2017, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari told Nigerians that he has decided to remain in london for longer rest.

In a statement signed by the president’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, the president said he was grateful for all of the prayers, show of love and concern, and reassured Nigerians that there was no cause for worry.

The statement explained that, ‘During his normal annual checkup, tests showed he needed a longer period of rest, necessitating the president staying longer than originally planned.’

The president left 4 weeks ago for a 10-day medical vacation which was extended after that period expired.

Robyn Dixon, an international journalist reporting from Johannesburg, South Africa, described Buhari’s reextended and secretive medical vacation as ‘the latest in a long line of leaders in Africa to travel overseas for medical treatment’. She added that, ‘His month-long trip continues a controversial tradition in Nigeria and elsewhere on the continent: presidents disdaining their own health services in favor of overseas medical trips often shrouded in secrecy.’

This is President Buhari’s second extended trip to London for medical treatment. According to report, last June the president was in London for two weeks to treat an ear infection. Even at that time, critics asked why Buhari couldn’t have been treated for such a simple ailment at the special presidential hospital State House Clinic, Abuja, reputed to be the best hospital in the country.

The government had upgraded the same hospital in 2016 at a cost of $16 million, more than the total capital budget for the sixteen federal teaching hospitals in the country. The hospital provides care for the president, vice president, their families and staff.

This time, several controversies are rising in the country over President Buhari’s extended medical vacation. These include the recent rumour that spread on social media that ‘Buhari is dead’.

Many Nigerians doubt the sincerity of the government about Buhari’s health condition. There is increasing demand that the president should speak to Nigerians directly onTV or in a video to debunk the rumour of his death.

According to report, former Governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa accused the Presidency of taking Nigerians for granted. He said:

‘They are taking Nigerians for granted. Nigerians have to be taken into consideration because for the Presidency to make such statement shows that the situation is critical. It also means they are taking us for a ride.

‘This was the same way the late Umaru Yar’Adua’s health was handled. As for me, I hope the President is aware of this latest statement because as far as I am concerned, he may not have said it. The federal government should make sure that Nigerians know the truth, we cannot continue to be left in the dark. We cannot trust his aides as well. We need the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who claim to have met him, to find out the truth and tell Nigerians the truth.’

A Second Republic lawmaker Dr Junaid Mohammed also said if Nigerians were not careful, the cabal surrounding President Buhari will destroy Nigeria.

According to the former lawmaker, what Nigerians have seen so far shows the Presidency is not being truthful to Nigerians.

He said:

‘What is happening right now is very unfortunate because evidence has since shown that the president’s handlers are not telling us the truth. They are playing on the intelligence of the masses, who took time to register, vote and some even died while voting. I feel Nigerians deserve better than what we are getting right now.

‘The 1999 Nigerian constitution is very clear that should the president be unable to prosecute his work, he should hand over power or resign instead of holding on to power. If the National Assembly does not move to impeach the president, corruption will continue in this government. The plan by the cabal around Buhari is to bundle him into the country and make it look as if he is ruling when he is not actually in charge. The cabal does not mean well for this country and if we are not careful, they will ruin this country.’

Meanwhile, many Nigerians are also angered by the president’s decision to consult doctors in London instead of Nigeria, particularly after he promised last year to stop foreign medical trips by government officials.

The Nigerian Medical Association estimated that wealthy Nigerians spend around $1 billion a year on trips abroad for medical treatment.

After President Buhari’s trip to London last June for treatment of the ear infection, the association said local specialists would have been capable of treating the problem.

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