“President Buhari’s oversea medical vacations an insult on Nigeria and Nigeria’s facilities.”
It’s once again on the news since yesterday, that President Muhammadu Buhari would be leaving the shores of the country to that of Britain, for what the president’s special adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina would describe as “Medical Review”.
Social Media is once again busy with tongue-wags on this thorn-on-the-flesh interminable and lingering issue: – “The presidential medical vacations”.
9News Nigeria have gathered more details on the recent impromptu supposed medical trip by Nigeria’s president. We have as well gathered counter-views in order to keep our readers in a balanced knowledge, dissect stories and bare the truth.
In an interview over the telephone, Channels television Sunrise Daily presenters had chatted with Femi Adesina to find out facts bordering on the reason for the President’s sudden trip back to London and his health conditions. The presenters also had a chat with an international lawyer, a professor for that matter to balance the stories of Mr. Adesina with what is attainable elsewhere in developed countries.
Question: What is the president going to London to do? What is his itinerary?
“This morning the president is going to receive letters of credence from some new Ambassadors posted to the country, that will last till early hours of the afternoon, and after that he will be on his way to London just for a medical review, and he will be away for four days. He will be back in the country on Saturday by the Grace of God. And on Monday and Tuesday he will visit Jigawa state which had been penciled down to hold. So that is the itinerary.”
The Question is : What guarantee do we have that the president will stick to the time frame given for this medical trip and return to the country after four days as said, judging from the past history where the president was expected to be back in days as the country was told, and it turned out not to be so, and the trip dragged for weeks, and even months.
Mr. Adesina replied that there is no guarantee that the president would strictly return within the stipulated time frame. He said that no one could give guarantee on health issues, not even the doctor. “Hmmm! When you know..when you talk of guarantee, man can not guarantee anything, man can not even guarantee life, because somebody that is here in the morning could be gone in the afternoon. So in terms of guarantee, no body can guarantee anything. But then in terms of the health of Mr. President, I will just say, there is no cause for alarm”
Mr. Adesina was further asked to correlate the medical situation in Nigeria today with a quote from President Buhari which he made in 2015 about medical tourism where he said Why should leaders of the country be going abroad for medical attention when they can fix the hospitals back home” How would that play out against him going abroad for treatment, medical holiday or as you said, medical review.
Mr. Adesina replied in denial of the quotes saying that he has seen the quote, and that there is no way that can be authenticated. He said he has not started working with the president as the time of the said quote, but even at that, he doesn’t think the quote was originated from the president’s mouth. He added that social media could manipulate anything and assert whatever they want on it in order to create publicity. “I doubt if that quote ever came from Mr. president”, Mr. Adesina concluded.
The president’s Media Special Assistant was further asked if there is any plan or he does have any idea of the president’s plans, if any, as regards enforcing improvement in Nigeria’s medical sectors.
The question was focally on whether there is any plan the president has, as to revitalizing the medical system in Nigeria, other than creating oversea medical vacation precedence.
Mr. Adesina replied that even himself is baffled that there has not been any thing done to improve the medical system in Nigeria, but he blamed it on the already existing system. He argued that it is impossible to enforce an improvement on a system that refuses to improve.
In his words “ehhh, there are certain things you can’t enforce. You can’t enforce medical improvement”.
On the medical situal of the president, following Nigerians curiosity to know the exactly ailment the president is suffering:
Mr. Adesina said that the president’s medical conditions and ailment reports are private and personal. Mr. president’s privacy can not be disclosed to the public. “He owns his rights and privileges to privacy”. He also added that it’s only the president himself that owns the prerogative to say what is ailing him. “Unless Mr. President comes out voluntarily and willingly to tell the country, this is what I have suffered from, this is what I’ve been treated for. Without him saying it, it will be unethical for anybody to say it” , Mr. Adesina concluded on that aspect.
Contrarily, another speaker held a different view to that of President Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media matters saying that the Nigerian president’s interminable oversea trips to seek medical attention has become a sheer disgrace and insult on Nigeria and Nigerians.
Professor Akin Oyebode, a professor of International Law was speaking via a telephone conversation and was asked on what he makes out of President Buhari’s incessant shuttles to overseas for medical treatment or vacation.
The prof responded by saying that he first of all sympathises with the president for his health conditions. He continued to say that he finds it unacceptable that the doctors involved are putting up all manner of turns and twists regarding his health condition without really letting Nigerians know what is ailing their president. He said Nigerians by right, deserves to know the medical condition and circumstances of their president no matter what it may be.
“It’s actually contemptible off the right of Nigerians to know how fit their president is, if his health is held hostage to the intentions of his doctor”, Professor Oyebode said.
“And I think it’s a massive vote of no confidence in Nigeria’s health situation, for the country’s president to constantly have to go abroad for medical review or treatment as the case may be”
The Prof also made reference to the American president, Donald Trump, who he said, has made his medical report available to the people of United States of America.
“ We could do better in this country, a country that produced, once upon a time, the deputy director general of the World Health Organization”
“So I find it most embarrassing and unacceptable that the president has not deemed it fit and proper to disclose his health condition”
In negation to Mr. Adesina’s claim that it’s the president’s privacy and exclusive right to hide away his medical reports from the people of Nigeria, Professor Akin Oyebode said “ He’s no longer a private person, he’s a public servant, and Nigerians pay for his upkeep, they pay the cost of his flights, they pay the cost of his treatments, I think the least the president owes Nigerians is to disclose what is his actual state of affairs”
On the Right of the president to privacy.
“I thought I responded to that, that because he is a public official, he is in public service and to that extent, his rights to privacy has become circumscribed. If he was a private person and not acting as president, of course, he has the right to privacy, but as soon as you enter the public space, your rights to privacy will now be subject to the rights of Nigerians to know how fit you are. More so, as Nigerians are paying for his medical consultation, they are paying for the transportation, they are paying for all sorts of things, so the least the president owes Nigerians is to disclose what is actually afflicting him”
“I’m aware that he is a man of advanced age, and so there could be all sorts of things that could afflict him. I don’t know how old the president is, there is a dispute as to his age, but having said that, I think that we should not treat Nigerians with contempt by declaring that they do not have the right to know how well that their president is ”
Asked on how the International communities view on Nigeria’s health care system and reliance on oversea medical vacations by its leaders would effect positive or negative results on Nigeria as a country, Professor Oyebode said:
“No, as I said, it’s a massive non confidence on the health care situation in Nigeria. All the time that president Mandela was ill, we didn’t have the story of his being flown abroad for medical consultation.”
“And if you’re a real Nigerian patriot, then you must live and die with Nigerians. That’s why, I don’t buy that excuse, that he has to be flown abroad when we have numerous professors of medicine in this country, who can play the role of diagnosis, of prescription, of advise. He has a professor of medicine, and I think, another medical doctor even within his cabinet. I don’t know how well staffed the Aso rock clinic is, but there is nothing wrong in bringing the medical supremo from England or Germany or wherever, to come to Aso rock and consult ”
“Why should the president of the world’s largest black nation be held hostage by some medical practitioners based in England. ”
“I think it’s an insult on Nigeria and the facilities available”, Professor Akin Oyebode concluded.
By Obinna Ejianya
9News Nigeria @9newsng