“In the face of abject poverty and national insecurity, Britain is entertaining Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari to squander more public funds for his own health care”
LONDON – In May 2016, the then British Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron called Nigeria and Afghanistan ‘fantastically corrupt’. We know that Mr. Cameron is somewhere kooling off after the heat of Brexit. However, in view of issues concerning Nigeria at the moment, permit me to call to attention how the current British Prime Minister, Mr. Boris Johnson, and his government, have allowed and are entertaining the presence of Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, who is said to have come into the United Kingdom (UK) for ‘medical check-up’.
By keeping quiet, the UK makes herself complicit in Nigeria’s woes. So far, she has remained tight-lipped, and continues to turn blind eyes, thereby allowing President Buhari to squander more of Nigeria’s taxpayers’ money and that of the poor Nigerian masses! Is the thinking that, the current situation in Nigeria – gross insecurity, banditry, striking medical doctors, and poor healthcare/medical facilities – are Nigeria and Africa’s problems? No! PM Mr. Boris Johnson. Although I share some similarities with Mr. PM, as our surnames, we are very much dissimilar. Not of the same pedigree, and definitely of very divergent views in this matter.
As a Nigerian-British Citizen, I do not love Nigeria any less than I love the UK. Fellow Nigerian citizens in the diaspora, like myself, represent stable bridges to facilitate enhanced mutual respect of both countries. We bring forth better understanding and links for human and international development projects. It is thus, quite disheartening to see how comfortable the UK, under the administration of PM Mr. Boris Johnson, and the UK Press, have stayed mum amidst protests of some patriotic Nigerians in the diaspora, who have called urgent and proper attention for Buhari to go home.
It is quite pertinent to direct the attention of Mr. Boris Johnson to this ugly situation, even doing so in the background of his predecessor, Mr. David Cameron’s description of Nigeria as ‘fantastically corrupt.’ By doing nothing to send Nigeria’s President Buhari home, the UK is making herself an accomplice in this corrupt and ugly situation. President Buhari has repeatedly left his country and the healthcare services which he, as President, provided and made fit for Nigerians, to source high-standard healthcare services for himself.
This situation posits that not only Nigeria and Afghanistan merit the description, but this great nation, the United Kingdom, has also become one of the most ‘fantastically corrupt’ nations of the world by its own standard.
With this write-up, I invite the very honorable UK public to take note of this too. There does not seem to be much sense in describing any one country as ‘fantastically corrupt’ when our Prime Minister is permitting the details of that corruption to be played out within the borders of our country. We, as a nation have always led by a good example – I pray that we do not slack now.
President Buhari’s Dossier of UK Healthcare Shopping and Trips
President Muhammadu Buhari was active in the Nigerian government as a Military General in the 1980s. This gives ample time and resources for his government to have gathered intelligence and established world-class-standard hospitals in the country and develop a proper healthcare system. Upon taking power as an elected President in March 2015, President Buhari traveled to London UK, for a health check-up in April 2015. His other healthcare shopping trips which he has made in a 6-year period are as follows:
- February 5, 2016 for 7 days
- April 25, 2019 for 10 days
- May 13 to May 15, 2016 in UK for an international summit and health check-up
- July 6 to July 19, 2016 for healthcare shopping and check-up
- May 7 to May 13 and in August 2017 for sick leave in London
- September 21 to 25, 2017, for sick leave in London
- May 1 and 2, 2018 in London on transit
- April 9 to 19, 2018 in London for Commonwealth meetings and healthcare trip
- May 8 to 18, 2018, healthcare shopping to see his doctors
- August 3 to 13, 2018, holiday in London
- April 25 to May 5, 2019 in private trip to London
- November 2 to 17, 2019 in private Trip to London
- January 20, 2020 in London for UK – Africa Business Summit
- March 30, 2021 to currently in UK for Healthcare shopping/check-up
We are all called to patronise the National Healthcare System (NHS) in the UK. This was well exemplified when Mr. Boris Johnson suffered the COVID-19 viral infection back in 2020. He was never flown out of the UK but was treated in a London NHS trust hospital. How is it then, that for all the years President Buhari has been at the helm of government in Nigeria, that the government of the UK permits and affords him preferential treatment at the expense of poor Nigerian taxpayers?
This, in contrast to the wellbeing of poor Nigerian masses, is further enriching the United Kingdom and its populace, yet Nigerians are looked down upon? Some quarters believe that the UK spends huge money on foreign aids, when 8% is allotted to such. Perhaps, they spend 8% but at same time, collect 81% back. I will like Mr. David Cameron, in such hypothetical calculations, to kindly let us know which country, indeed, is fantastically more corrupt.
How long will such ugliness go on before President Buhari is made to understand that whatever is good for the goose, is also good for the gander? President Buhari needs to go home and patronise the hospitals in Nigeria. Let him be taken care of by Nigerian doctors there, even in the provisions he has made for the common Nigerian. If the UK public will not entertain Mr. Boris Johnson flying out of the UK for private healthcare trips, it is pertinent to say that the UK government has no business allowing these healthcare shopping trips by President Buhari to continue within her borders.
It is also double standard for the UK to impose the Magnitsky sanctions against some corrupt foreign leaders, maybe Russians, while allowing similar corrupt Nigerian politicians to use the United Kingdom as a safe haven to enjoy special healthcare services. As a committed Christian, the Word serves reference in Proverbs 31:8 saying: ‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.’ It is unfair and unjust that, while Nigerians are being killed at their farmlands, roads, and places of daily work by various acts of banditry, terrorism, and wanton discharge of weaponry, her President, who is supposed to be the prime patriotic citizen, is relaxing and receiving excellent healthcare provisions that he did not avail his own people – throughout the 1980’s and since year 2015 till date that he has been in government.
A Protest at the Wrong Embassy and Government House
Some Nigerians in the diaspora have made efforts to bring to attention this ugly situation of President Buhari being lodged at the Abuja House in London. They have done well.
However, they will do better in carrying these protests to 10 Downing Street, to Westminster Parliamentary House, and also to the Home Office. The presence of President Buhari in the UK is with the full knowledge of these institutions and arms of the UK Government. The quest there will include reasons for allowing President Buhari to outsource his healthcare services at the expense of Nigerians, and to insist that the UK government instead, pay for the cost of the healthcare bill.
An irony may even be that President Buhari is being treated in UK by a Nigerian medical doctor. NHS Trust workforce have a reasonable percentage of Nigerian doctors. In any case, special doctors from the UK, can easily and quietly fly down to Nigeria to review the President and his healthcare needs, thus, save a lot of the public funds and help check corruption. The alternative would be the President flying out on a public airline (not the Presidential jet) and paying for his health trip out-of-pocket.
Corruption and funding the State House Clinic at Aso Rock Presidential Villa
Here is a breakdown of the costs of ‘refurbishing’ the State House Clinic at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja, Nigeria:
- 2015: N3.94 billion
- 2016: N3.87 billion
- 2017: N3.2 billion
Comparing these financial investments with the amounts spent on Teaching Hospitals nationwide we have:
- 2015: N1.424 billion
- 2016: N3.333 billion
- 2017: N1.943 billion
These are the comparative values of the budgets which have been spent only at the Aso Rock State House Clinics, against the amount spent over the nations 36 Teaching Hospitals. For context, President Buhari abandoned the use of the Aso Rock State House Clinic, where much money -greater than the spread over the whole Teaching Hospitals- has been spent, to visit London for his medical check-ups. Is it possible that Mr. Boris Johnson MP and Home Office Secretary Ms. Priti Patel MP can, by any measure, begin to appreciate the outrage of Nigerians home and abroad in calling out for President Buhari to go Home? He can return to Nigeria and complete his medical check-up, and also desist from such trips in the future.
The UK should do well within its powers to ensure that politically ill-gotten wealth from Nigeria is returned back to the Nigerian people. That of James Ibori which was celebrated a few weeks ago, is just chicken feed of what has been fantastically corruptly brought into the UK by Nigerian politicians.
Access to Health care, a Human Right Provision
According to the United Nation’s factsheet on health, “the progressively realisable right includes basic things like access to healthcare and hospitals, as well as underlying factors necessary for a healthy life, such as safe drinking water and sanitation, food and adequate housing. The right to health contains the freedom to say no to medical treatment. It entitles people to a system of health protection, including the prevention, treatment and control of diseases and access to essential medicines. The right to health means that functioning public health care facilities, goods and services must be available and accessible, equally, to all. States must do everything they can, within their available resources, to provide all these things.” The Federal Government of Nigeria is a full signatory to this UN provision, and has agreed on the politics of the factsheet for access to healthcare for her citizens.
President Buhari must lead by example and ensure that there are no different strokes for different folks, but that all Nigerians have equal rights of access to health and healthcare by providing similar standards of quality healthcare and access to health for every citizen of Nigeria.
The government of the UK, led by PM Mr. Boris Johnson and his predecessors, knows her responsibility to provide standard and excellent access to healthcare as the National Health Service (NHS) and the rights and enactments of legislations governing these rights to the patients, public and workers within the NHS are consolidated within the National Health Service (NHS) Act 2006 as amended. The existence of this body, the NHS, in providing access to health to people of the United Kingdom came by rule of law and good legislature, through hard work and good governance. President Buhari, having been in Nigerian government since the 1980’s, sees it fit to leave his country to the UK to enjoy the good works of other politician, who clearly understand that they have been elected to government to serve their nations and not be served as ‘gods’ or given preferential treatments.
These monies being spent, belong to every Nigerian, and not a personal expense borne by President Buhari. The UK immigration offices, thus, have no right and true justification to continue detaining any Nigerian, as their rights to come into the UK have been indirectly paid by the political excesses allowed for President Buhari.
Some argue that President Buhari had been attending health check-ups in London prior to 2015. Well, from March 2015 when he became the President of Nigeria, he became a public figure and Nigerians are entitled to be told what his health situations are, and what he needs to travel to UK repeatedly for.
The cries and wailings of Nigerians are too loud to be ignored by the British Press and Parliament. Their silence has promoted such excesses from President Buhari, and I maintain here that they are complicit in their silence. This makes the UK a ‘fantastically corrupt’ nation, as aiding such excessive squander of public funds by President Buhari, should have long attracted some Magnitsky Act-type sanctions against him. Let PM Mr. Boris Johnson, understand that these excesses allowed to President Buhari is causing mass hunger, poverty and hardship to the Nigerian populace. If the United Kingdom government continues to stay silent and accommodate this, there should be a call to bring such stark disregard of the rights of the people of Nigeria against the UK (as an ally of President Buhari) to international recognitions.
Things need to change. Until the anomaly is corrected, let former PM, Mr. David Cameron, appreciate the understanding that the UK remains the 3rd ‘fantastically corrupt’ nation after Nigeria and Afghanistan.
A lot of money is being squandered by these UK trips and should not be so.