Buhari and medicals abroad, By Richard Akinnola II

Just like Emeka Oparah point out this morning, the oft-quoted alleged Chatham House statement of PMB railing against foreign medicals for public officials, is false. No such statement was contained in his Chatham House speech.

Having said that, l guess the allusion to such position could be found in the president’s address at the 56th Annual Conference of the Nigerian Medical Association, held in Sokoto in April 2016.

Represented by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, the president spoke against medical tourism where he said:”While this administration will not deny anyone of his or her fundamental human rights, we will certainly not encourage expending Nigerian hard earned resources on any government official seeking medical care abroad, when such can be handled in Nigeria”.

I recall that when PMB first went to London to treat an ear infection, ENT doctors railed against it, stating that Nigeria had a surfeit of ENT doctors that could attend to the president.

I believe that if the government is really serious in terms of substantially improving our Medicare, it would have it a priority, thereby stopping this regular medical sorties to UK. No matter how we look at it, it’s a great indictment of the current government. It’s even more insensitive at a time Health workers have been on strike for weeks.
In fact, l find it embarrassing, apart from the humongous costs that are still shrouded in secrecy. I believe there are some private hospitals that can adequately attend to our president, the way a private hospital attended to his injured son, who was not taken to the National hospital or Aso Villa clinic for which humongous amount of money was budgeted for in the last two appropriation years. That doesn’t speak well of us as a nation. The same thing with late president, Umaru Yar’Adua. Even during the campaigns in 2007, he was rushed to Germany to treat “cough”.

Despite the length of his illness, Nelson Mandela was never flown out of South Africa. He was treated in the country. Ditto for his wife, Winnie. But here in our clime, we no get shame. The government and its supporters would rationalise it. Is that how to grow a country?

In 2003, when Gani Fawehinmi directed many of us in National Conscience Party to go contest, including himself, there was a Code of Conduct form which all aspirants had to fill and sign. It was mandatory. In that form, it was clearly stated that if any of us got elected, NO FOREIGN MEDICAL TREATMENT; ALL OUR CHILDREN IN PRIVATE SCHOOLS MUST BE WITHDRAWN AND SENT TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS. We all signed. It was a covenant. That is how to change a system.

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