Nigerians react to Buhari’s announcement of Ekwueme’s medical treatment abroad

Buhari and Ekwueme 2
President Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President, Alex Ekwueme

Nigerians have reacted to Friday’s announcement by President Buhari that he had approved a foreign medical treatment for a former vice-president, Alex Ekwueme.

Mr. Ekwueme, 85, reportedly collapsed at his residence in Enugu on Sunday morning.

While some citizens praised Mr. Buhari for the move, others see it as having a political undertone and another reminder about the country’s lack of adequate medical services.

For starters, Section 5, Subsections 1 and 2, of Remuneration of Former Presidents and Heads of State Act 1999 allows for free medical treatment for former vice-presidents and their immediate family members:

(1)    Free medical treatment for former Vice-Presidents and their immediate family within Nigeria.

(2)    Treatment abroad for former Vice-Presidents and their immediate family and where necessary at Federal Government expense.

Ahmed Mustapha, a political analyst, said Mr. Buhari’s announcement was “only for the news value.”

“There’s nothing political about it,” Mr. Mustapha, who identifies with the ruling All Progressives Congress, told PREMIUM TIMES by telephone Saturday. “It was appropriate in the context of letting Nigerians, especially the people of the South-East, know that the former vice-president has been flown abroad.”

But a lawyer, Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, said the announcement was patronising and “highly unnecessary.”

“It was a very negative declaration,” Mrs. Ibezim-Ohaeri said. “I think the president needs to stop this eye service narrative to the people of South-East because it’s getting too hilarious.”

“When Mr. Buhari himself was a former head of state and he travelled for medical treatment abroad as par of his entitlements, was it ever announced by those in power then?”

The Remuneration Act gave former presidents and former vice-presidents similar entitlements.

A former head of state, Ibrahim Babangida, was flown abroad for medical treatment on at least two occasions in 2016.

Mrs. Ibezim-Ohaeri said Mr. Ekwueme, who was Nigeria’s vice-president from 1979 to 1983 when Mr. Buhari overthrew the Shagari administration in a military coup d’état, has sufficient resources to take care of his medical treatment anywhere in the world.

“Sir Ekwueme was a man of means who could afford to pay for his own care,” she said.

Mrs. Ibezim-Ohaeri said the decision to fly Mr. Ekwueme abroad should not have been announced because it marked the latest indictment on Nigeria’s worsening public health system.

“The president is basically telling Nigerians that he had lost confidence in Nigeria’s healthcare system,” she said.

Mr. Mustapha also expressed his sadness about the implications of the announcement.

“I’m really sad that our leaders over the past decades have failed to put our healthcare system in a good state,” he said.

Mr. Buhari detained Mr. Ekwueme on corruption charges after the December 1983 coup. The former vice-president has been a member of the Peoples Democratic Party since its creation in 1998.

Mixed reactions have also poured in on Twitter:

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Some people are in the middle:

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Some also see it as a favour for the people of South-East:

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  • Yego V

    Buhari supporters will shamelessly show up to bragg., their oga made the best announcement. This is sad. The man is surrounded by dumb heads as ADVISORS; INFORMATION MINISTER etc. Buhar spent 1/3 rd of the year in London for treatment. This was enough time for Baru and Kyari to award contract for the prototype hospital. The same Buhari campaign to STOP medical tourism. Recently Ashia refused to hop into the jet for Malaria treatment in London. God will continue to exposé the DARK nature of Buhari.

    • C. Elderman

      @yegov:disqus

      The plank of the APC’s insidious plan was to
      tell lies to deceive the people with free school meal in all primary schools
      and with 5,000 Naira dole to the poorest 25 million Nigerians. To avoid the shame
      of being caught out for failing to redeem those bogus promises made to mostly
      illiterate Nigerian voters, the APC party sought to take over the media and to
      control how Nigerians should think. The APC party was in delusion that such a
      plot against the people could ever work, as Nigeria fell apart under Buhari’s
      ignorance, incompetence, and, tribalistic misrule.

  • Mentus

    Buhari’s announcement is simply to salve his conscience, having squandered millions of pounds on medical trips for his own health. He was the one who announced on taking office that he would do away with government-sponsored medical trips.
    Whatever makes these politicians think they have a right to be kept alive at the expense of millions of fellow Nigerian condemned to early death, by choosing to ignore the health needs of Nigerians and use the money for themselves and their families.
    However long their lives are prolonged, we will all surely die one day and they will be held accountable before God.

  • Mohammed Bello

    Nothing in this world would Buhari do and some of the syncs wouldn’t find fault. We are all first human and people should restrain their utterances. Ekwueme deserves much more than this. For a fact he would have been crucified if he has not taking a passing interest.

  • curseless

    The country have become so cynical to the point that if Buhari does something he is damn and if doesn’t do anything he is damn. The ones that are not satisfied are the ones playing politics. Let them come off this high horse and be real.

    • C. Elderman

      @davidsonlawoyin:disqus

      How Nigerians defeated Muhamadu Buhari

      The few intellectuals left in Nigeria
      joined the fray to assail the Buhari APC government as the worst government Nigeria’s
      ever had. The APC party plan to spy on internet users for punishment failed and
      faltered at once against this well-informed intellectual barrage, and the APC
      party skedaddled to take recourse in financial warfare: by
      denying jobs and government contracts to anyone who does not say SAI BABA. But
      in effect of that corrupt cronyism of Buhari, Nigeria’s economy fell into the
      worst ever recession in history, with four banks in severe liquidity crisis
      today and teetering on insolvency.

      Lai Muhammed, the execrable creature who was hired for mind-control as
      Minister for Information, got stranded from day one, without any gumption or
      credibility to even control his own family’s disdain for Buhari’s thoroughgoing
      ignorance and messes. The social media right then sprang to life, to turn the
      sword in.

      The plank of the APC’s insidious plan was to
      tell lies to deceive the people with free school meal in all primary schools
      and with 5,000 Naira dole to the poorest 25 million Nigerians. To avoid the shame
      of being caught out for failing to redeem those bogus promises made to mostly
      illiterate Nigerian voters, the APC party sought to take over the media and to
      control how Nigerians should think. The APC party was in delusion that such a
      plot against the people could ever work, as Nigeria fell apart under Buhari’s
      ignorance, incompetence and tribalistic misrule.

      • curseless

        Sir, if you believe all that, then guess what I have a plot of land to sell to you in never , never land.

        • Law Guru

          @@davidsonlawoyin:disqus

          Garba Shehu himself is best ignored as President Buhari’s lies-telling palace guard.
          President Buhari himself has a case to answer. For four weeks now President Buhari kept quiet
          and hoping that the scandal of his signing away 35 billion dollars’ worth of contracts at NNPC –
          without the knowledge of NNPC Board of Directors or the resolution of the federal executive council – would blow away or simply be forgotten in the noise surrounding the other corruption scandal also implicating President Buhari who was warned since 12th October against the illegal reinstatement of Mr. Maina – a wanted criminal suspect on Interpol red alert – as a Director in the Ministry of Interior; with 22 million Naira back pay for his having been a fugitive from justice for three years, during which he abandoned his duty post in the Ministry and ran to United Arab Emirates to escape court trial for stealing. For so long as President Buhari was implicated directly in both corruption scandals, it does not lie in the mouth of Garba Shehu – his palace guard – to tell
          anyone in Nigeria how to report the news of Buhari’s serial corruption.

  • Lanre

    It is really a pity. The young ones do not know history and so cannot understand that Nigeria is a sad story of pillage and denudation. The rulers taking the people for a ride. No sense of pride in the country. Buhari overthrew Shagari and Ekwueme in 1983 to improve hospitals (according to him, Abacha and Babangida). 34 years after, even Buhari himself does not use Nigerian Hospitals. And yet these rulers keep lying to the people. This show of shame will never stop until the citizens rise up and demand their freedom. Nigerians are enslaved by their rulers.

  • Regardless, Buhari will be voted out in 2019. We need a true democrat that understands the basic tenets of democracy. We need a leader that is true to the oath of the office of the President and holds the constitution in high esteem. Not a tyrant that tramples on the civil and human rights of the citizens. We call on the President to release Dasuki, El-Zakzaky and all the countless citizens in his gulags.

    • tundemash

      Is it from that your illegal immigrant status in US that u would vote Buhari out ? Kid, concentrate on regularising your illegal status first.

  • Dike offor

    All this free for past leaders need to be stop..dem get money to take care of themselves…why dem no build good hospital when dem dey power or after power..this Country

    • Exactly. If only they built good hospitals no one will be using their illness for press statement or making them look like beggars being helped. It’s a shame that our leaders from Local Govt. to State Govt to Federal fail to see that making everyone in the country safe and healthy also guarantees their own and their relative’s safety and health.

  • TAWANDA INCOMMUNICADO

    The existant laws gurantees such trips for all surviving ex heads of state and VPs. Buhari is making it look look like a favour and that is wrong.

    Having made my point, such trips for the privileged strictly classes Nigeria as a glorified zoo.

    • grand maze

      With this provision in our constitution, why should these leaders maintain our hospitals? They should expunge this constitutional provision. It is grossly unfair to the common man

    • persona

      The basis for the announcement is because of the state of his health as at the time.
      Its his privilege to have such treatments BUT no other past leader fell into coma and needed to be evacuated with utmost dispatch.
      If they didn’t declare the dispatch procedure, some will say they delayed and these options existed but because he is not from his region, he is unworthy. He is treated with regard and yet, there is a backlash.
      The treatment given to Dr. Alex is akin to having a driver and same decided to open the door for you. His job is to drive and not to open the door. He chooses or its in his job description from day one.

    • Tunsj

      Agreed. But if you want the laws to be changed, why not call your Reps and Senators.

  • Gary

    It is good that the regime sought to render assistance to a former VP in medical distress.
    It is Pharisaic and smacks of political opportunism to have announced it like it flowed from the kindness of Buhari’s heart.

    Better if it had been left to an appreciative Ekwueme clan to disclose the assistance than Aso Rock issue a press statement about what is actually an entitlement for the former VP.

    Buhari might be unfamiliar with Christian doctrine but Mr. Femi Adesina often cites Scripture in his defense.
    Adesina must have read what Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount about not letting your left hand know what your right hand does, when you do good. So God, not people, will reward your kindness.

  • Gembu

    The enemies of this govt will never see anything good with this govt. They have forgotten that they didn’t vote for Buhari but he won and he will still win without their vote . All their propaganda will not stop Buhari’s victory . It is a known fact that the pdp thieves are sponsoring all this rubbish and it will not change anything .Buhari is our hero.

    • Al

      I pity buhari for over prioritizing them, at end no gain.

  • tsunami1earthquake

    Buhari, thank you for remembering to send Ekwueme overseas for treatment in line with Ekwueme’s right as former vice president.

    We hope that outside this category of untouchables who are more equal than others, you must remember that other 180 million Nigerians could be in jeopardy if their health is not taken care of in well-equipped hospitals all over the country. Many Nigerians are dying from illnesses that could have been adequately treated in state of the art hospitals in Nigeria. I don’t think having well-equipped hospitals is too much to ask for the teeming population of Nigerians.

  • The lesson today’s leaders should be learning from this is that when you’re in power and you don’t build a system of good medical service that outlasts your office, Other’s will use news of your illness for political gains and make you look like a beggar.

  • Abacha was not corrupt and didn’t steal a dime. Mr integrity told us. $2.8billions and $600millions missing when Mr Intercity was at NNPC and PTF. Now $26 billions in secret contracts. Before we could catch our breath, there is Mainagate. Oh God…..save us..

  • We shall never forget the havoc wreaked on us by the 55 yrs of dictatorships. Buhari was a godfather of Nigeria dictatorships. They entrenched corruption and impunity.

  • Otile

    Ogbeni, you have touched the depth of imbecility. Read your trash again and weep.

    • Du Covenant

      With all due respect, I have been compelled to suggest you should read your TRASH and WEEP for you represent the problrms we have in Nigeria. How can you see, hear the truth and turn a blind eye for ethnicity and regional bigotry?. If all Nigerian ellites have done the needfull, 57 yrs post independence we would have been a vibrant and properous country today!. I blame all our past leaders and civil servants who have proved to be the most corrupt in world by today’s standards and what Nigeria has to show to the world!!!!>

      • Amicus Curiae

        I thought Shagari was president then and not Ekwueme!

      • Tunsj

        Always on point. Thanks again.

    • Sir Louis

      Otile, you are on point. This Ogbeni, is actually sick!

  • persona

    Nigerians are very shallow people:
    The announcement included the conveyance via air ambulance: The question is, as much as the perk is guaranteed, how many past leaders actually collapsed and fell into a coma?
    Did IBB fall into a coma? Others have been treated and they were not emergencies of a life threatening proportion…please let us all be reasonable.
    Dr Alex can afford as many have said, does that change the narrative that FG is keeping the promise irrespective of his status?
    Everything is seen from a political, ethnic and religious position. We are indeed in trouble in this country.

    • Gary

      Is anyone questioning the assistance or just pointing out the needless polarization of the action by announcing it?

      You are right that other leaders have been similarly availed of that benefit but no press statements were issued.

      Buhari himself has been similarly assisted in the past and even given bullet-proof cars as a former head of state. We would not have known any of that if Dasuki was not arrested and put on trial for how he spent funds from the Office of the National Security Adviser.
      Helping someone in distress and going to the market square to announce it is what is being criticized.
      Afterall, nobody thought of issuing a press statement about the reinstatement of Maina into the Civil Service with promotion and backpay. Until Premium Times announced it for Aso Rock.
      Hypocrites.

      • persona

        Gary, my point is simple, the issue with Dr. Alex is different, he needs evacuation and he is in a coma…that is different. Politically, those that announced it shouldn’t have done do, those that will attack him should there be a delay that affects Dr. Alex permanently, would also say the much needed order was not done because he is from the SE.
        As regards Buhari and Dasuki, Buhari also never disclosed he was deprived of such privileges while others got theirs as the events turned out to be.
        There is no crime here, i think the announcement became necessary because, SE presents Buhari as someone who does not care for them or the region.
        FG never also indicated that Anambra got more nominees than Lagos and Oyo states combined. The point here is simple, the recent document is in relation to an accusation from Business Times indicating a skewed appointment to a degree of 81 percent.

    • Tare Daniel

      Its not a promise, its a right. Get the difference.

      • persona

        Chief, i believe you read the context that says that the perk is GUARANTEED!!
        I never insinuated its a promise, i said keeping it to illustrate how elitist our leaders are.
        The Dasuki expose let us know that Buhari didn’t get vehicles that should have been his rights also and the man never complained.
        The point i am making is, Dr. Alex, unlike other leaders, was flown because of the medical emergency and not a scheduled one.
        It goes without saying that, the man may have been enjoying the right in the past and we never heard of it.
        Communication has been a major handicap of this administration amongst many other things but i never misconstrued the difference. Read my comment again….FG also guaranteed us security with every president that ever swore, have we got it? The elites have been protected against the rest of us is my point.

  • And when we returned to a democracy, Buhari came and destroyed an elected administration. He’s destroying our democracy again….. the second time.

  • Olatubosun

    Nigeria has been sanitised

  • Amah Jones

    Oh, wait a minute, brother! Janjaweed Buhari approves what? Overseas medical treatment for Ekwueme? Was he, too, injected with the dreaded Monkey Pox vaccine by Nigeria’s Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen-saturated armed forces? What the hell is going on? The other day, Dr. Kachikwu revealed Buhari’s $25 billion oil contract embezzlement scheme. Shortly after that, Buhari asked fellow corrupt politicians to let him borrow “Aso Rock Pocket Money” totaling $5 billion from the World Bank. Guess what? You’ve just watched $30 billion disappear into thin air, but Igbo votes are about to start pouring in, notwithstanding the sorrow, tears and blood still copiously flowing from Buhari’s catastrophic Operation Python Dance campaign of mass genocide.

    Hey, that’s Fulani Magic-2019, folks!
    These men ruled Nigeria from the 1970s through the ’80s and ’90s to the present time, but failed to provide functioning hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they and fellow citizens could have their afflictions treated. Buhari, by his own admission, has been using UK medical facilities since the 1970s, all at Nigeria’s expense.
    Within two years (2015-2017) of being in office, the man has lavished no less than $50 million on personal medical sabbaticals in the UK, all at Nigeria’s expense. Now, he is the merciful political “god”, using his recently strengthened Jihadist fingers to approve overseas medical treatment for an ailing former Vice President Ekwueme–all at Nigeria’s expense. Hey, there are thousands of highly-qualified Nigerian doctors and medical professionals all over the world, couldn’t they be sought, hired and paid competitive wages to return home and provide world-class medical services to fellow citizens? Why even bother training medical doctors if our corrupt leaders have very little faith in them?

    Anyway, what about all those seriously diseased ordinary Nigerians with no money and access to medical services? Is Janjaweed Jihadist Buhari ready, willing and able to approve their overseas medical treatments, too? Or, are publicly-funded overseas medical treatments the exclusive preserve of the rich and powerful so-called leaders whose ineptitude and woeful mismanagement of Nigeria engineered the near-total collapse of the very healthcare system from which they now shamelessly run?

  • Ebuka

    Hahahahahah! So its the Vice president that now develops the Country? Where was Shehu Shagari? Why didn’t he use the money during the 1979 – 1983 Oil boom to build Facilities for better health intervention in Nigeria? My friend you seem like a brainwashed bigot, with no sense of respect for Igbos. Watch your Mouth, you’re on your way to self-destruction.