Saratu Audu, Buhari and the Rest of Us: Revisiting Mr. President’s UK Medical Trip, By Ya’u Mukhtar and Jibril Sunusi Hamza

EMERGENCY DIGEST- It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday, 30 March, 2021, jetted out to London for a routine medical check up. He returned after two weeks, in April. The decision did not ring well in the ears of many citizens and thus, received scathing criticisms and condemnations from different angles.

It was not the first time that the President had embarked on a medical trip since he assumed office. He once spent over 150 days in the UK, nursing an undisclosed ailment in 2017.

This is obviously in tandem to the bad timing of the trip, because of the declared intention of  Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors to begin industrial action effectively from Thursday, 1st April, 2021.

Other reasons behind these mixed reactions include the worsening security situation bedeviling the country ranging from the banditry, insurgency, separatist agenda, poor country’s health care sector and high rate of unemployment among host of others.

Nevertheless, while reacting to the development, the Presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, justified the President action saying that the decision to embark on the medical trip is “wise and quite correct”.  He added that Buhari has maintained a cordial relationship with his doctors for the past three decades.

The President landed safely on UK soil, but it was learnt that on Friday, 2nd April 2021, Anti-Buhari protest was conducted in front of the Abuja House in London by some Nigerians led by Reno Omokri, an aide to ex-President Jonathan.

Alas, a very saddening event happened in which a Nigerian-London based artist, Saratu Audu was spotted in a viral video raining malicious abuses on the humble personality of the President thereby using expletives and dare him to take any action on her.

The said Saratu was the daughter of Professor Ishaya Shuaibu Audu, a personal Physician to late Sir Ahmadu Bello, the 1st indigenous Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria (1966-1975). Moreover, he was also the Nigeria’s Minister of External Affairs between 1980 and 1983.

This unfortunate act irked many Nigerians especially Pro-Buhari and thus, retreated to their social media handles and expressed their anger on Saratu. From my own point of view, Saratu like other citizen is free to criticize President Buhari in a well reasonable manner but using harsh words on him is an abuse of his liberty which is uncalled for and this is tantamount to insubordination to the office he represents as the President.

This disgraceful event is reckless, condemnable, and unpatriotic and should not be taken for granted in order to avert its replica in future. Moreover, Saratu should know that this irrational and infantile act is disgrace to the blessed memory of her late father who would have strongly condemned the act had he been alive to witness it.

Subsequently, pro-Buhari supporters have on April 5th 2021 also conducted a solidarity rally at the same venue to showcase their unwavering support and well wishes for the President. The supporters stormed the area with placards bearing inscriptions such as “This Storm Will Surely Pass”, “God Loves Nigeria”, “We Are Stronger Together”, among others.

However, it is good to note that the President was the mastermind of those embarrassments that he received, because He woefully failed to discharge one of his enshrined duties as the Chief Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

This is obvious when looking at the derelict condition of the hospitals in Nigeria as they are not well equipped to provide the adequate health care needed for the wellbeing of the citizens in spite of the huge amount of capital being budgeted to the health sector on annual basis.

For example, since the inception of Buhari’s administration, a whooping total of N13.59billion has been budgeted to the State House Clinic alone, Daily Trust reports. However, it is not clear what percentage of the money has been released to the hospital and whether it has been fully utilized, mismanaged or otherwise.

Also, remember that, during 2015 campaigns, Buhari was the same person who promised to ban overseas medical trips by government officials including himself as well when voted as the president. Did he live up to this campaign promise?

More so, in the current 2021 budget, a total of N1.3billion has been allocated for this same Villa Clinic in which the amount was even claimed to be meager and inadequate as stated by its Permanent Secretary, Tijjani Umar.

So, it is worrisome and disheartening to learn that a state clinic that has been gulping this huge amount of money cannot meet the requirements to attend to the medical needs of the President and the Late Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari of blessed memory, when he got infected with Coronavirus Disease in 2020.

If that is the case, then what do you expect about the condition of ordinary hospitals in rural and remote areas? Recall that, even the co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, has reiterated the need for Nigeria to prioritize development of its health sector rather than focusing on procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.

This statement is enough evidence to expose how awful the state of our hospitals was over the years and without receiving the much needed intervention by the government. Those two London key events have shown that there are section of Nigerians both living  here and in diaspora whom are still patriotic, wishes well for the country and still have hope that the country will one day jump from grass to grace and become much better than the current difficult and unbearable situation, while others hold a different notion.

Nigeria is the giant of Africa and aspects such as regionalism, ethnicity, politics and religion have succeeded in dividing the unity, harmony and cordial relationship existing among the citizens. These varied factors are being employed by mischief-makers especially rotten politicians, as key players in achieving their disastrous act against the country and the populace at large.

In a nut shell, I will conclude this article by reiterating the need for all Nigerians to cast aside all our religious, tribal, regional and political differences whenever it comes to matter of national interest.

Thus, the time is ripe for us to embrace unity and national coexistence so as to rid the country away from its evils thereby making it a better place to inhabit.

Government in its part should also do the needful in fixing the problems engulfing the country, especially issues pertaining to health sector, security of life and properties, education, unemployment and social amenities.

Hamza is a graduate of Mass Communication while Mukhtar is of Botany. They wrote in from Madobi in Kano State. Can be reached via: [email protected], +2348062662147

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