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Nigeria: Buhari heads to UK for medical treatment as doctors strike erupts at home

By Jude Michael
Posted on Thursday, 1 April 2021 16:42

buhari
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on 3 October 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

As Nigeria faces down a coronavirus pandemic, and doctors launch a national strike to protest against working conditions and salary arrears, the President has left the country to seek medical assistance in the United Kingdom. An irony that has not gone unnoticed. Buhari has now spent 170 days abroad for treatment during his presidency.

When he arrived in office, Buhari promised to raise the standard of living for the many, with basic healthcare part of the deal.

“I am aware that out of pocket payment for health constitute over 70% of total health expenditure”, said Buhari at the opening of a new healthcare facility in 2017. “My presence here today demonstrates our Administration’s commitment to put [the] health of Nigerians as a top priority”.

Now, in his sixth year in office, Buhari has elected not to risk treatment in a Nigerian hospital. On Tuesday 30 March, just as Nigerian doctors were about to commence a nationwide strike to protest poor conditions, the 78-year-old took off to the UK for his fifth medical trip as president.

do you know how much they pay for hardship allowance at the House of Reps and Senate? They pay N1.2 million ($3,150) and we get a hazard allowance of N5,000 ($13).”

Although the presidency announced it was a routine medical check-up, which would last about two weeks, it appears to be yet another sign that the president does not trust Nigeria’s poor healthcare system and cannot do much to salvage it.

Since his medical to the UK in June 2016, Buhari – who ruled Nigeria as military head of state from 1983–1985 – has so far spent 170 days abroad for treatment. He had stayed the longest in 2017 when he spent 103 days in the UK treating an undisclosed ailment.