Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria, HURIWA, has berated President Muhammadu Buhari for his failure to stop the members of his inner caucus from embarking on medical trips abroad.
HURIWA also lamented Buhari’s lack of political will to set up a panel to investigate the allegations of corruption at the State House clinic.
According to the rights group, the President Muhammadu Buhari government has shown no interest into investing massively in reviving the moribund health sector despite the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The group pointed out that annual budgetary allocation of the State House Clinic is a lot more than what is allocated to each of the 16 major teaching hospitals across the country with over a total of N13.59 billion having reportedly been budgeted for it since the administration came into being.
“In 2017, the wife of the President; Aisha Buhari had attacked the management of the State House Clinic over poor equipment and non-availability of drugs. This attack by the Wife of the President had followed the earlier criticism by her daughter; Zara Buhari, who took to one of her social media accounts to criticise the Permanent Secretary of the State House; Jalal Arabi, for his inability to provide even Paracetamol tablets to the clinic despite a budget of N3 billion for the provision of drugs to the hospital.
“Although in October 2017, the House of Representatives said it would investigate the “deplorable condition” of the State House Clinic but till date the outcome of that inquiry remains unknown.
“Again, President Buhari in the build up to his election in 2015, had on his campaign trail, itemized the abolition of medical tourism as one of his key objectives in government.
“Although his administration officials vowed to put an end to the practice, Buhari has been Nigeria’s most prominent medical tourist. He has visited the United Kingdom for at least five medical trips since becoming president, including an extended stay of more than five months in 2017.
“According to the calculations made in one of the editions of Saturday Punch Newspaper, in the first three years of his first tenure from May 2015 to May 2019, President Buhari was outside the country for a combined 404 days (one year and 39 days) in 33 countries.
“In 2016, President Buhari spent a total of 17 days in a London hospital treating an undisclosed ailment. Shortly after that, in 2017, he reportedly spent a total of 152 days in London on medical vacation when he became inaccessible, except for a few politicians. He equally made frequent trips to the UK on ‘private visits’ believed to be for medical reasons. On May 8, 2018, he again embarked on a six-day medical vacation to London.
“More worrisome is that the medical treatments of the President are still an official secret as Nigerians are not told how much of their cash has been deployed for the medical treatments of the President for months.
“Apart from the Nigerian President, his son; Yusuf, in December 2017 was flown to Germany after suffering injuries from a bike accident in Abuja. These trips were embarked upon despite a huge sum of above N10bn allocation to the State House Clinic from 2015 to 2018.
“In a recent development, the Wife of the President; Aisha Buhari, and a Nephew and close confidant of the President defied the lockdown and the shutdown of airports to gallivant all over UK and Dubai for the so called medical tourism.
“That of the first lady is more shocking because she was said to have neck pains and that was the reason for deploying a presidential jet to jet off to Dubai for weeks at public costs.
“HURIWA is pleased and indeed happy that God was on our side to have stopped an unforeseeable air disaster from ever happening following the reported incidents with the homebound Presidential jet in connection with the weather, but to convey the idea that the First Lady had to fly out to treat neck pain is to tell the World that the Nigerian health sector has totally collapsed. This is sad and unfortunate,” he said.