The latest vexatious medical tour of Great Britain by President Muhammadu Buhari which he started today says a lot about two major natiknal issues in Nigeria. Number one is about the Deplorable and collapsed state of public health care system in Nigeria since the current government began in 2015.
Before he got elected, during the campaign, the then APC Presidential candidate Major General Muhammadu Buhari(rtd) made a very heavy weather of “his resolve” to end medical tourism in Nigeria which he had said was costing Nigeria so much of the much needed foreign exchange to develope Nigeria. He also criticised medical tourism abroad by politicians as one practice that has undermined the growth of the practice of medicine in Nigeria leading to brain drain.
But since coming on board in 2015, the few health care facilities that were put in place by previous government even the federal medical centres that were hitherto functioning optimally have all become moribund largely die to mismanagement of funds for public healthcare by officials at various levels.
The health care system has also witnessed several industrial actions and strikes by medical staffs and non medical staffs. But President Muhammadu Buhari has spent over two hundred days on foreign medical trip with our money.
President Muhammadu Buhari is billed to leave for London, United Kingdom, today October 31, 2022, for routine medical check-up.
A terse statement by Femi Adesina on Monday, noted that Buhari will return to the country in the second week of November, 2022.
Secondly, the most significant lesson Nigerians should learn from President Muhammadu Buhari’s medical travels that are obviously unending and massively capital intensive draining public funds, is to never again elect someone who is medically unfit to govern or someone who has so much questions to answer about his medical fitness. The same 2015 scenario is playing out today as the same APC has elected someone who is medically unfit as their candidate for the 2023 presidential election in the person of Bola Ahmed Tinubu who has been on different medical trips even before INEC did blow whistle for the commencement of the electionary campaign.
Even before the campaigns that are energy saoping began, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has gone to London, France and USA over five times for alleged medical tours, one of which has his media propaganda team put out a video of him on a stationary bike to prove to Nigerians that their master is fit to govern since he can pedal a stationary bicycle.
Nigerians must have it at the back of the minds before casting their votes, with few weeks to the end of his first term in office, President Muhammadu Buhari has spent a total of 404 days (a year and 39 days) travelling to 33 countries on four continents in about four years of his first term in office, as captured by a media report recently.
The country he visited the most was the United Kingdom where he spent 217 days mostly on health grounds and meetings of Commonwealth Heads of State and Government.
His second most visited country was the United States where he spent a combined 41 non-consecutive days.
He met ex-President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump at different times and also attended the 70th, 71st, 72nd and 73rd sessions of the United Nations General Assembly.
France was the third most visited country with Buhari spending 14 non-consecutive days there. China came fourth with 13 days and Jordan occupied the fifth position with eight days.
Other countries the President visited during the over 46-month period under review included the United Arab Emirates (seven); Morocco (seven); Germany (seven); South Africa (seven); Saudi Arabia (six); India (five); Chad (five); Kenya (five); Turkey (five); Poland (five); and Malta (five).
Others were Senegal (four); Ethiopia (four); Mauritania (four); Netherlands (four); Togo (four); Republic of Benin (four); Côte d’Ivoire (three); Iran (three); Equatorial Guinea (three); Cameroon (two); Ghana (two); Niger (two); Gambia (two); Egypt (two); Qatar (two); Mali (one); and Sudan (one).
Incidentally, the President did not visit any country in South America.
Apart from medical reasons, the President was out of the country to seek security assistance, improve on the nation’s economy and trade, and seek support for his fight against corruption.
Findings showed that while the President was able to build an alliance with neighbouring countries to curb the activities of Boko Haram, his travels did not translate much to Foreign Direct Investment except in 2016.
Nigeria attracted $3.4bn in FDI in 2015 and saw a huge boost in 2016 with the nation getting $5.1bn.
However, in 2017, the nation’s FDI took a sharp decline, dropping to $3.5bn, and to $2.2bn in 2018. Ghana surpassed Nigeria in 2018 as it drew $3.3bn.
Breakdown of Buhari’s travels in 2015
Shortly after his inauguration, Buhari on June 3 and 4, 2015 travelled to the Republic of Niger and Chad Republic for consultations on how to tackle terrorism in the country and the region.
On June 7, 2015, he travelled to Germany to attend the G-7 summit and returned on June 9. He proceeded to South Africa on June 13, 2015 for the African Union Summit in continuation of talks on anti-terrorism fight and returned on June 16.
On July 19, 2015, the President embarked on a four-day official visit to the United States and after he returned on July 23, he proceeded to Cameroon for a two-day visit on July 29 and returned on July 30.
He went for the Republic of Benin’s Independence Day celebration from August 2 to August 3, 2015.
In September 2015, Buhari embarked on a one-day visit to Ghana on the 7th and a three-day official visit to France on the 14th, returning on the 16th of September.
The President travelled to New York for the 70th United Nations General Assembly on September 24, 2015 and returned on September 29.
From October 26 to 30, 2015, he travelled to New Delhi in India for the Indian-African Forum and on his way back, he made a technical stopover at Khartoum, Sudan.
From November 22 to 24, 2015, the President travelled to Tehran, Iran for the third Gas Exporting Countries’ Forum.
From November 26 to 30, 2015, the President was in Malta to participate in the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
From Malta, he travelled to France on November 30, 2015 for the UN Climate Change Summit and returned on December 1.
On December 3, 2015, he departed for South Africa to attend the China/Africa Summit. He returned on December 5.
On December 10, 2015, Buhari attended the last rites for the late former President Mathieu Kerekou of the Republic of Benin.
Travels in 2016
Buhari’s first foreign trip in 2016 was to Benin Republic on January 8 where he attended the 11th Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Niger Basin Authority.
From January 17 to 20, 2016, he attended the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
From January 27 to 29, 2016, the President was in Kenya on an official visit. From Kenya, he headed to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for an African Union meeting and returned to Nigeria on January 30.
From February 2 to 4, 2016, the President visited France to attend the Special Session of the European Union Parliament.
From February 5 to 10, 2016, barely eight months into his tenure, he travelled to the UK for his first vacation.
On February 18, 2016, he departed for Egypt to attend the Sharm el-Sheikh ‘Africa 2016’ Business Forum and returned to Abuja the following day.
From February 22 to 29, 2016, the President visited Saudi Arabia and Qatar. He met with government officials and also visited Medina and Grand Mosque in Mecca, where he performed prayers for the peace and unity of Nigeria.
Most of these travels are said to be coded medical tours costing Nigeria so much in foreign exchange.
*Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko;
HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA).
31ST OCTOBER 2022.