Tuesday, November 27, 2018

If we had to crowdfund President Buhari’s next medical trip

If we had to crowdfund President Buhari’s next medical trip
January 24
10:48 2018

Health is a very sensitive issue to address in this clime; it is a matter of nobody wants to die, but everyone wants to go to heaven. Nobody wants to confront the really tough issues facing quality and affordable healthcare in Nigeria, yet everyone wants quality and affordable healthcare in the country.

For decades, we have seen our one percenters, AKA the privileged few, or if you like, you can call them the political elite, jump from west to east, Europe to Asia, UK to India, in search for the best of treatment, no matter the cost. You remember Maryam Babangida, Stella Obasanjo, Umar Musa Yar’Adua, Patience Jonathan and most recently, Godswill Akpabio, who built a multi-billion naira hospital in Akwa Ibom, but ran abroad to treat himself after a self-inflicted auto crash.

When President Muhammadu Buhari was to come on board, he promised to be different, to improve healthcare in the country, to put a leash on medical tourism, to ensure better healthcare for every Nigerian — especially the masses, who have no abroad to fly to.

In fact, according to the APC manifesto, the deal with Nigerians was to “increase the number of physicians from 19 per 1000 population to 50 per 1000; increase national health expenditure per person per annum to about N50,000 (from less than N10,000 currently); increase the quality of all federal government-owned hospitals to world-class standard within five years; Invest in cutting-edge technology such as telemedicine in all major health centers in the country through active investment and partnership programs with the private sector”. It has been 31 months, we have no signs of these.

Within that period, the president himself had gone on two notably-long medical trips, and God spared him. But since then, we have not seen a massive improvement in the nation’s healthcare system, particularly on “increasing the quality of all federal government-owned hospitals to world-class standard”.


Despite the president’s ill-health for a great deal of 2017, one would expect an emergency declaration for healthcare in Nigeria, but that is not the case, healthcare is still business as usual. The medical centre next to the president’s nose, the Aso Villa Clinic, lacks paracetamol, cotton wool, syringes, and the least of medical necessities, despite receiving over N3 billion in 2016 and N331 million in 2017.

We have seen bouts between Aisha Buhari and Jalal Arabi, the state house permanent secretary on the state of the clinic, but much is still desired in that medical “centre of excellence”. This is only possible because the president and his one percenters have alternatives.

So let us turn things around a bit. Imagine if our political elite did not have access to the funds they use in travelling overseas for medical treatment. For instance, if President Buhari had to issue a national address to Nigerians abroad and at home, to donate their pennies and kobos to fund his medical trip abroad, will things not be different?

If presidency had to set up a gofundme account so the president can gather enough money to get treatment abroad and live in good enough health to contest in 2019? What if the tables were really turned, if we had to crowdfund every foreign trip embarked upon by our one percenters?


This is the dilemma of the average Nigeria. Week in, week out, Nigerians have to run fundraisers to get enough money to treat another Nigerian in dire need of quality medical treatment at home or abroad. It was the story of Mayowa of the #SaveMayowa campaign, it was the same for veteran actor Sadiq Daba, who through the help of well-meaning Nigerians got medical treatment abroad and now defies cancer.

The Nigerian survives, not on the strength of the country’s medical system, but on the backs of the resilience and kindness of millions of other Nigerians across the world, on the blood, sweat, and tears of the overstretched Nigerian doctor, on the patriotism of unsung heroes. The Nigerian survives, he defies the ills of the system by riding on the wills of his family, friends and total strangers who put $10, N1,000, just any amount to save a soul. Yes, the Nigerian survives.

Today, it is personal for me; a friend from the University of Ibadan, who was a large-hearted lover of students, a former general secretary of the Students Union, and a qualified Engineer, Abiola Abdulwaheed Abimbola, has been let down by the failed promises of the one percent, and has to leverage of the goodness of the 99 percent. Abiola is battling cancer and has been receiving treatment in Nigeria over the last two years with little or no improvement.

He, like the president but without the arms of the state, needs to survive. He, like Sadiq Daba, needs the warm embrace of the people, he needs the true love of never-say-die Nigerians, he needs the blessings of our unbreakable spirits as a people to beat cancer, and I believe that we, again, can save one of us.

Abiola needs in excess of N14million to get treatment at a specialist hospital. Students and alumni at the University of Ibadan have gone from hall to hall in the university, seeking funds. Well-meaning Nigerians have sent their thousands, and today, Abiola has about N7million. Abiola needs more, we need more, we need your goodwill, your kindness, and your prayers.

To save yet another Nigerian, donate via his gofundme account or directly to his fundraising account 0693199843 with Access Bank.

Until the Tiger can scratch its back with its own claws, it will be at the mercy of trees. Until we get healthcare right in Nigeria, we would be at the mercy of fundraisers and treatments abroad. But while that discussion continues, let us save Abiola; let Nigerians save Nigerians.

Reach Tijani across major social media platforms @OluwamayowaTJ


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