What can deliver Nigerian leaders from UK hospitals? By Martins Oloja
Who will set some Nigerian leaders free from their liking for U.K. Medical Doctors? Who will be paying for the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari’s medical treatments in U.K after May 29, 2023? Will Buhari curb Buhari’s obsession with the U.K universities (for his children) and healthcare system for more than 40 years? When shall we begin to get answers to our questions on what really ails our leaders who continue to travel abroad for even dental and ear problems?
When should we the people insist on getting answers to the questions on whether we have the right to know the health status of our leaders and public servants generally? When can we know the nature of the health challenges of our leaders? When shall we have a National Assembly that will take newspaper editorials on accountability, responsibility, public good, pubic interest seriously on the day of publication? Will President Bola Ahmed Tinubu sign a covenant with Nigerians that he too will not be travelling to United Kingdom and France for medical examination from May 29, 2023
When will all medical professional bodies in Nigeria stir the conscience of our leaders by robustly protesting irresponsibility, hypocrisy and corruption of our leaders who continue to shun healthcare system they pretend to be funding? Why do our leaders continue to set up even Universities of Medical and Health Sciences when they know that they don’t expect any good out of them?
When will the Office of the Citizen begin to set up mobilisation committees to begin to organise civil actions against all these spineless members of national and state assemblies who cannot question executive rascality and excesses all over the country? And this: how many newspaper editorials, and special documentaries and commentaries should the mainstream and social media do before the federal and state governments can show responsibility to develop the Nigerian healthcare delivery system to serve the country? Who will deliver us from our reckless dealers who call themselves leaders who always meet even their waterloo in U.K?
Is there any takeaway for them that one of our leaders and his wife are currently in jail in the same U.K because they went there to look for a medical service that should have been provided at home if the leader had done well as a leader of the legislature where they have approved billions of naira for healthcare in the last 24 years?
These questions became germane again at the weekend when it was clear that our leader who was in the United Kingdom for the coronation of King Charles 111 on May 6 is still spending time with his dentist in the same U.K where he had in 2017, spent 104 days on health grounds. What is more curious, our President-elect we would not like to be infected by this very reproachful Buhari’s passion for medical tourism in the U.K is in Europe too.
The Nigerian leader who left the country on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 joined others for coronation of Charles III and his wife, Camilla, as King and Queen of England on Saturday, May 6.
The Presidency had earlier been silent on Buhari’s date of return. But a statement signed by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, on Tuesday last week noted that the President could not return because of a dental care. Adesina told the nation that the President would still be in the United Kingdom for another five days for a procedure already initiated.
The presidential spokesman had, in an earlier statement, said: “Ahead of the coronation, the Commonwealth Secretariat would take advantage of the gathering of leaders in London to play host to a summit for Presidents and Heads of Government of Commonwealth countries on Friday, May 5.” The President participated in the summit, which deliberated on future of the Commonwealth and role of the youth.
His entourage includes Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, his Information and Culture counterpart, Lai Mohammed and National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd). Others are Director General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Amb. Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, Chairperson/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, among other senior government officials.
As people were still smarting from the news that our out-going leader who is generally believed to be very close to the Archbishop of Canterbury was still in the U.K for five more days, there was a newsbreak within the same week that the President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu too would be in Europe on investment drive and fine-tuning of the transition details.
According to a statement by his media aide, Tunde Rahman, the President-elect, was on an investment drive to Europe. Mr. Rahman said the former Lagos State Governor was billed to hold business talks with multi-sectoral players in manufacturing, agriculture, fintech and energy. The statement noted that the trip would also create a conducive environment for the president-elect to fine-tune his transition plans and programmes, as well as policy options without unnecessary pressures and distractions
The statement reads: “During the visit, the President-elect will engage with investors and other key allies with the goal of marketing investment opportunities in the country and his administration’s readiness to enable a business-friendly climate through policies and regulations…Already, meetings with multi-sectoral actors in Europe’s business community including manufacturing, agriculture, tech and energy have been lined up.”
They added this: “Asíwájú Tinubu hopes to convince them of Nigeria’s readiness to do business under his leadership through mutually-beneficial partnerships premised on jobs creation and skills acquisition…Reviving the country’s economy forms a major plank of Tinubu’s Renewed Hope agenda and the meeting is part of his efforts to re-establish Nigeria’s importance in the global economic chain and create empowering opportunities for the country’s huge youth population.” Who will set us free from this “modern-day slavery” that our leaders’ recklessness has triggered? When shall we be set free from the United Kingdom, after all?
On August 15, 2021, in the heat of COVID-19 ambush, I wrote an article here tiled, ‘Buhari and Tinubu in London: The significance’ https://guardian.ng/opinion/buhari-and-tinubu-in-london-the-significance/|. In the article, I lamented the fact that President Buhari who was then on a medical vacation in the United Kingdom actually met Bola Ahmed Tinubu who had then reportedly displayed a walking stick. This is an excerpt from the Inside Stuff then:
…That is why I would like to repeat the point I have been making since 2017 here when our elected leader on whose table the buck should really stop that it is not gratifying to note that the leader of the most robust economy in Africa has been flying to London for medical examination more than 60 years after the same London granted us independence and republican status.
The other day some cheeky and unchiselled commentators on digital platforms were even arguing that it is not good enough for us that our leader has been travelling to London for medical check-up; when his only son had a power-bike accident, he was flown to Germany for proper treatment and whenever his wife isn’t feeling fine she always flies to the United Arabs Emirate (UAE) where another great man and our former vice president, Atiku Abubakar prefers as his Plan-B home. Great men’s charity should always begin from abroad.
The other big man, whose cognomen is Oba l’ola, Yoruba people’s metaphor for ‘tomorrow’s king’ wasn’t around in his domain at the last Sallah celebration. He wasn’t in his empire a few weeks ago too when the crucial local government council elections were held. Yet his absence wasn’t noticed as they, as usual, won all the Council seats. Anyway that was how his supporters and indeed his people confirmed his rumoured medical condition, which has just been confirmed that it wasn’t a big deal, after all. He was seen with the commander-in-chief he assisted to seize, I mean return to power in 2015.
It can now be seen by all of us who have been circulating some dangerous intelligence that despite the secret pact so many eye-witnesses have hinted at, the lanky beneficiary of his 2015 stratagem would not honour the covenant to hand over to him, after all. We have all seen the great friends, political mentor and mentee together in London where it is said they have always met to renew their loyalty to each other concerning that #Covenant-2023. All doubting Thomases have thus seen that the two friends are as fit as fiddle.
Don’t misconstrue the walking stick you thought you saw: it is a symbol of wisdom, which comes with old age. It is also a badge of royalty for Oba l’ola (Furure King) in the old Western region. Don’t read their body language anyhow in the United Kingdom. They are great men and we have all felt great seeing them together in high spirit. They need our great prayers for good health and indeed healing too for our great nation as Nigeria’s leader returned home at the weekend. It wasn’t clear whether Oba l’ola too returned home at the weekend.
And so as our leader has returned to his kingdom after the great summit on education and examination of his health in the United Kingdom, he should listen to the voices of wisdom and reason, which most of us have been reiterating since 2017 that Nigeria’s commander-in-chief should take advantage of his summits and health-care experiences in London to invest purposefully in even a few hospitals where our leaders and our people and indeed Africans can also be cared for….’
This is the conclusion of the article then, which I still believe in:
…And so the urgent task before Buhari and Tinubu who rule Nigeria from Abuja and Lagos is that next time, we would like to see them after their medical examination in a Nigerian hospital. As they return home, the two great men should note that their greatness will be diminished by their abysmal failure to invest in even two British-class hospitals in Abuja and Lagos where they rule Nigeria.
We don’t want to see them abroad together again on any health grounds. They need to pay attention to at least the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH), National Hospital Abuja, (NHA), University of Lagos Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH). These are the low hanging fruits they can easily invest in to prevent the reproach of a great nation whose great leaders always fly over ill-equipped hospitals to get treated in great hospitals abroad. Who will tell our leaders to remove this reproach from Africa’s most strategic country?
Martins Oloja is a columnist with The Guardian