Since President Muhammadu Buhari departed Nigeria on a 'medical
vacation ' one month ago, politicians , monarchs and religious leaders
have been entreating Nigerians to pray for his quick recovery and safe
The Buhari administration has also been using the solicitation of
prayers for President Buhari as a tactic to evade citizens' demand for
enlightening information on his state of health. Officialdom tells
Nigerians that the Nigerian people need not know the particulars of
the president's illness. All they need to know is that he could use 'a
lot of prayers '.
Nigerians who believe in the efficacy of prayers would be wise to
ignore the government's prayer solicitation campaign. The people
should not be solicitous of a sick Buhari who is not inclined to
requite the love of Nigerians. He does not deserve the empathy of
Nigerians when he has evinced no concern about the health of the
During his fourth campaign for president, Buhari promised to cause a
significant reduction in medical tourism by improving the quality of
the healthcare infrastructure of Nigeria. He has shown no commitment
towards fulfilling that promise. Instead, he has become a proud
promoter of medical migration.
Last year June, Buhari took a 10 day vacation and spent ' only 20 million
naira' to treat an ear infection in London.
Right now, he is in the same city, racking up medical bills, charging
it to the account of Nigerian taxpayers …and asking them to pray for
his recovery from a nameless illness!
No Nigerian ought to spend the minutest part of their time praying for
Buhari's mending. The Nigerian people should be discussing how to heal
Nigeria of the plague that is 'leaders' like Buhari.
Ours is a hyper-religious country. The ever-increasing mushrooming of
mosques, churches and shrines on our landscape is proof positive of
Christianity and Islam, which majority of the theistic population of
Nigerians profess, enjoin followers of both Abrahamic faiths to pray
for their secular leaders.
But Nigerians must refuse to be guilted into praying for their sick
'leaders'. Nigerians are free of the ''pray for your leaders'' command
in the holy books because those who manage Nigeria fall short of any
serious definition of the word, 'leader'.
The rulers of Nigeria are the reason Nigeria is suffering third rate
power infrastructure, dilapidated public schools and decrepit health
institutions. They are the curse behind Nigeria's degenerative
underdevelopment. They are the very sickness of the body politic.
Nigeria is sick of selfish 'leaders' that care about only their own
health. Nigeria is sick of 'leaders' who can't fix Nigerian hospitals
because they are permanently charmed by the exoticism of foreign
hospitals. Nigeria is sick of 'leaders' who would rather fly abroad
every time they fall sick than develop Nigerian hospitals so they can
be treated on home soil.
Nigeria 'leaders' parasitize the medical civilization of advanced
countries but are too selfish, senseless and slothful to apply
themselves to the task of domesticating the excellence they witness in
The hospitals Nigerian 'leaders' highball out of our country to taste
are the tangible achievements of foreign leaders. Nigerian leaders are
not ashamed they lack the motivation to duplicate such legacies in
When Buhari was walking to board the presidential plane to London, a
journalist asked the president why he was going on this second medical
journey abroad. He retorted: ' What's wrong with going on vacation?
Didn't I go last year at the same time?'
Obviously, Buhari thought it was a foolish question. He missed the
import of the enquiry. The hard-nosed reporter collapsed a lamentation
into a query.
The newsman actually told Buhari this: This is 2017: 103 years after
the founding of Nigeria and 57 years after her independence. Yet, the
president of Nigeria strips naked before the medical technology of
Britain, Nigeria's former colonial master, because Nigerian hospitals
are good for nothing!
Something is wrong with Buhari going on medical vacation abroad. Last
time he returned from vacation, he did not start to overhaul Nigerian
hospitals with a vengeance. He only readied himself… for the next
The foreign trips of Nigerian 'leaders' never benefits the Nigerian
people. The so-called leaders do not permit themselves to be permeated
and inspired by the philosophy of development that is at the heart of
governance in the developed world. They are poor hostages of
self-defeatism. They are racists who believe they are incapable of
building world-class facilities in their native country.
Buhari's wife, Aisha, returned from Saudi Arabia the other day. On her
arrival at the airport in Abuja, she thanked 'all Nigerians for their
goodwill and support for my husband' and implored them not 'to relent
in prayers'. A few days ago, Buhari himself tweeted a message of
appreciation to 'Christians and Muslims alike, for their prayers and
kind wishes for my health'.
Nigerians must not be deceived. Our very religious president is no
believer in faith healing. In spite of his dissembling, he won't trade
one checkup session in a London hospital for the intercession of 175
million Nigerian prayer warriors. He is a believer in cutting-edge
If he believed in faith healing, he would have stayed back in the
Villa and surrendered to our 'prayer treatment'. He would not have
traveled halfway around the world to enter the refuge of the
healthcare system of the United Kingdom. He wouldn't have been
'receiving' our ''prayers and kind wishes'' from a distance!
There is a hospital in Asokoro area of Abuja called the State House
Medical Centre. That facility is meant to serve the families of the
President, the Vice President and other senior government officials.
Buhari abandoned that hospital and fled to London to take care of
himself. It's from the comfort of that faraway hideaway that Buhari
has been soliciting prayers from wretched Nigerians who have nowhere
to go when they fall sick.
Last year, Buhari voted for more money for capital projects in the
State House clinic than he proposed to spend on 16 teaching hospitals
owned by the federal government. In spite of this lopsided
distribution, he would not subject himself to this best funded federal
government owned health facility in Nigeria. He won't participate in
the healthcare system he presides over.
A budget of 3.87 billion naira was approved for the State House Clinic
in 2016. Yet, The PUNCH would later report that the State House Clinic
lacked basic equipment and even 'ordinary malaria drugs'. The
presidential hospital was a hollow edifice. An empty, boasting name.
Now, that's the picture of the state of the most important hospital in
Nigeria. The condition of less known public hospitals is more
appalling by a long way. And it is those substandard hospitals that
majority of Nigerians are condemned to relate with.
Buhari's elastic stay in London has forced the analogizing of his
condition to that of the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua . Buhari's
protracted vacation is solidifying doubts about his fitness for
office. Given that each vacation day abroad is eroding his support
base, it would have served him well to return quickly to Nigeria to
juggle recuperation and work.
But he cannot. He so dreads the unknown that may befall him if he
rushed home ahead of a clean bill of health that he is now trying to
make the best optics out of his medical hibernation.
He makes out time for photo ops . He holds court every day . He
receives visitors on homage. He even talked foreign policy on the
telephone with President Trump though there was an acting president in
London has become the new Mecca because of his 'indefinite medical
vacation '. Nigerian officials are traveling on 'solidarity
vacations', at public expense. They are going to show their loyalty to
This farce is not worthy of Nigeria. Nigerians must begin to demand
that Nigerian public office holders be prohibited from seeking medical
treatment abroad during their incumbency. The so-called leaders of
Nigerians should not have the liberty to excuse themselves from the
rot they helped perpetuate.
If it was unlawful for Nigerian 'leaders' to check into foreign
hospitals, on our dime, they would be constrained to pursue the
upgrading of Nigerian health facilities as a matter of self interest.
They would know that they have to raise our hospitals to international
standards or they would be liable to be trapped by the consequences of
their own neglect.
The ban will stop the elitist escapism. It will end the detachment of
Nigerian 'leaders' from Nigerian health institutions. It will compel
them to address our broken healthcare system because they are
partakers in our common vulnerability.
Right now, it is the lot of Nigerian 'leaders' to enjoy world-class
health facilities abroad and it is the destiny of Nigerian taxpayers
to pay for the elopement of the jet-set 'leaders'!
Every day, countless Nigerians die of diseases can that be easily
cured or managed. They die because Nigerian hospitals are too poorly
equipped and they can't afford overseas medical treatment. They die
because their panacea is holy water, roots and herbs.
President Buhari mocks humanity when he tells Nigerians who are sicker
and infinitely poorer than him to forget about their precarious
condition and concentrate on praying for his own healing!
You can reach Emmanuel at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter