OP-ED Opinions 

Thinking With You… Where Will President Buhari Receive Next Medical Check Up? By Bayo Oluwasanmi

With the exception of President Nelson Mandela who received treatment and care in his own country until he passed away, no African president received medical treatment in their own countries.

Once African presidents assumed power, they become tyrannical tin gods to be revered, worshipped, and addressed as “His Excellency.” They turn their citizens into paupers at best, and serfs at worst. They become untouchable and invincible.

Public institutions such as hospitals are not suitable or standard enough for them to receive medical treatment. Having turned their hospitals into abattoirs, they make overseas hospitals their permanent medical centres where they receive treatment.

The list of African presidents who died while receiving treatment in overseas reads like a page lifted from the diary of a funeral home.

1. After 26 years in office, President Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea at age 62 passed away in a US hospital while undergoing cardiac treatment.

2. In February 2005, after 38 years in office, President Gnassingbe Eyadema died on board the aircraft that was evacuating him for emergency treatment abroad.

3. In December 2008, Guinea’s President Lansana Conte died in Conakry. As president for 24 years, he received treatment in Switzerland and Morocco throughout the years he was in office.

4. In May 2010, Nigeria’s President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua died at 58 in Abuja. He had returned from Saudi Arabia two months earlier where he had gone for treatment.

5. On September 6, 2019, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe died at Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore. He ruled for 40 years.

6. Zambia’s Michael Sata ruled for three and died at King Edward VII’s Hospital in the UK where he received treatment.

7. Levy Mwanawasa ruled Zambia from 2002-2008. After he was struck by stroke, he went to France for medical treatment. He died at Hospital D’instruction Des Armees Percy, Clamart.

8. Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi Asres was prime minister from 1995-2012. He sought medical treatment in Brussels, Belgium where he died.

9. Guinea Bissau’s Mallam Bacai Santa’ was flown to France for treatment for advanced diabetes. He died in the French hospital.

10. Gabon’s Omar Bongo ruled Gabon for 42 years. He travelled to Barcelona, Spain for treatment of cancer. He died in the hospital.

Most of them died far from home, bitterly, lonely, and humiliated. With massive resources at their disposal, none of them thought it fit and wise to build a world class hospital in one of the African countries. But greed, absolute power, and wickedness informed their behaviour and actions.

In his 2015 campaign, Buhari promised to make “medical tourism” a thing of the past. He vowed that he and other government officials would not seek medical treatment overseas. Since he became president, the opposite is true. No contemporary African president rivals Buhari in receiving treatment abroad. 

We know why the hospitals in Nigeria and in Africa are on life support. According to WHO report, 15% to 20% allocated for healthcare in Africa ended up in private pockets. For example, in Nigeria, corruption and cronyism shifted needed resources from the healthcare sector to the pockets of the president’s men and his party.

President Buhari at this period of Coronavirus, (like other senior citizens) is the one more than any other Nigerian who needs a 21st century hospital at home where he can easily access medical treatment and scheduled follow up appointments. The whole world is literally locked down because of COVID-19. We are immobilized and frozen as it were – for now. President Buhari’s follow up appointment in London is overdue. He can’t travel to London because of COVID-19. His doctors in London cannot come to Abuja. Yes, he can access telemedicine. But there’s a limit that telemedicine can go. His follow up requires his being there physically.

The million naira question is: Where will President Buhari receive the next medical check-up? If Buhari had built just one modern hospital in Abuja during his first term, he’ll have nothing to worry about his medical treatment today. We pray and hope that President Buhari will find equally effective alternative treatment for his long overdue medical follow up appointment.

Mr. President, are thoughts and prayers are with you. May the Lord bless and keep you!

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