When Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari left for Britain in May last year to receive treatment for an undisclosed illness, many back home were not enthused. Due to his prolonged absence from his country, calls were made to him to either return or step down.
After spending over 100 days in London, Buhari returned to the country in August with many still wondering if he was still fit for the job. It’s been eight months and the president is planning another trip to London next week Monday to commence his annual leave.
Sources at the presidency told local media The Sun that Buhari’s decision to leave on Monday was to enable him to have enough rest ahead of the 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, (CHOGM) 2018, to be held at the Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace, and Windsor Castle. The meeting is billed for April 16 to 20.
But already, some Nigerians, particularly opposition members are wondering what the real purpose of the trip is.
The opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party is demanding full disclosure of the purpose of the trip, the direct destination, the duration of the trip as well as the cost and source of funding.
Nigerians have serious issues with leaders travelling abroad for medical reasons after their former president Umaru Yar’Adua died while in office in 2010.
The general public was for months not given details about Yar’Adua while he received treatment in Saudi Arabia. This destabilized the country as people were denied concrete information about their leader and pressing issues bothering on security and the economy were still pending.
Buhari coming into office in 2015 has not changed the situation in any way. In June 2016, he spent nearly two weeks in London receiving treatment for an ear infection. He subsequently spent almost two months in London in January and February the following year and said on his return in early March that he had never been so ill.
This was after his officials have repeatedly refused to give information about his illness and when he was due to return to Nigeria.
There have since been speculations about Buhari’s health and the latest report that he will be travelling again on medical leave has made matters worse. His promise to put an end to medical tourism is also on the line, critics say.