With the news to the nation by Presidential spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, that President Muhammadu Buhari will begin a 10-day vacation to the United Kingdom on Monday and during the period, seek medical attention for a “persistent ear infection”, the lid has clearly now been blown on the contempt and disrespect some members of the President’s team have for Nigerians in the blatant lies they tell.
This is because just 24 hours earlier, it was the same Adesina who told the media that the President is “as fit as a fiddle” as well as “hale and hearty.”
“Didn’t you see pictures of him receiving Anglican bishops yesterday? Did he look sick? The president is as fit as a fiddle. Anyone who says he is sick is telling lies. That is a figment of the person’s imagination. Just yesterday he received the Primate of the Anglican Communion and Archbishops at the Presidential villa. He also received former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He is hale and hearty. The imagination of whoever says that is on overdrive,” Adesina had told TheCable last Saturday.
Even The Nation, a newspaper sympathetic to the APC, the President’s political party, also published a news story on Sunday, “Presidency: Buhari is not sick” in which the President’s spokesman further dismissed and described as false media reports that the President was ill and treating an infection in his left ear known as Meniere Disease. Adesina told the newspaper that Buhari was fine and discharging his duties as President of Nigeria.
But it’s obvious the man lied!
Now, what is wrong with being sick? Anyone can fall sick anytime just as President Buhari himself rightly said. So, why on earth would Adesina lie about the President’s health? In whose interest is it? Why make such statement when the winds of time would expose such hypocrisy? Why the deceit? Just why?
Mr. Adesina said anyone who says the President is sick is telling lies. With President Buhari off to the UK, it’s now apparent who the liar is! Verily, verily I saith unto you, Nigerians, lying is corruption!
For a leading editor and columnist whose writings many Nigerians loved to read while he was at The Sun, it is surprising and shocking to see what being at the corridors of power is turning an otherwise distinguished journalist to. If he doesn’t already know, Mr. Adesina must realise his fans are seriously hurting.
When he told the country that President Buhari was as fit as a fiddle, he knew it was a lie. It wasn’t correct information. Yet he chose to deceive over 170 million Nigerians about the true position of things as if he didn’t know that if a lie travels for 20 years, the truth will catch up with it in just a single day. In his case, the truth caught up with him just the next day.
But be that as it may, President Buhari’s medical trip to London again raises the question about our health care system in the country and particularly the fate of sick but poor Nigerians who are neither privileged to get state-sponsored care abroad like some of our leaders and politicians nor can even afford self-paid treatment for their illnesses and diseases at home. Really, how much is the life of the poor worth in Nigeria?
And why do we allow problems that can be addressed promptly to fester and degenerate out of hand?
For instance, Nigerians now know, through the CBN, that a significant portion of the increasing forex demand in the country is because many of our citizens go for treatments in hospitals abroad and enjoy spending summer holidays overseas. Why do we continue to encourage medical tourism abroad? What stops us from bringing at least other Africans to Nigeria for the best medical treatment when our doctors and nurses are doing wonders in other parts of the world? Where are our thinkers and visionaries in government like the fantastic guys doing wonders in the United Arab Emirates?
Meanwhile, we are a people who seem to forget things so easily and this pattern, despite persistent lamentations by concerned patriots, evidently hasn’t changed. We also don’t quite learn from history. I believe the tragic death of former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in Aso Rock back in May 2010 six months after he was hurriedly flown to Saudi Arabia for medical attention where he was diagnosed of having pericarditis, an inflammation of the lining of the heart, should have taught us some unforgettable lessons as a country.
For instance, after President Yar’Adua’s death, did we bother to even ensure that the federal government build truly-world class hospitals and medical institutions across the country so that leaders and citizens no longer need to spend scarce resources flying to Germany, India, London, Switzerland or Dubai for treatment of ailments that can be handled here if the right equipment are available? And who says state governments in each of the six geopolitical zones of the country cannot pool resources together and build at least a state-of-the-art medical complex that will provide very advanced care for Nigerians in their various zones?
And back to President Buhari’s trip, would it not have even been cheaper for the President’s handlers to fly his doctor and medical consultants to Nigeria than for the President going there to meet them with the number of aides who have to follow him and the associated costs to the country?
In all of these, there are enough evidences of how Mr. Adesina has talked down on Nigerians in the last one year. But with embarrassing lies and rigmaroles that have now been discovered from his mouth as the President’s spokesman, it has only gotten worse. I expected that a media leader like him would have acted better in the circumstance and understood that the President is no longer a private citizen and Nigerians deserve to know about the true state of his health with the scenario one of his predecessors in that office, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, THISDAY columnist and chairman of the newspaper’s editorial board, confronted six years ago during the Yar’Adua saga. Adesina has the duty and responsibility to tell Nigerians the truth at all times in his position. I believe he ought to apologise to Nigerians if he won’t resign.
As humbling as tendering an apology may be for him, it’s an action he owes the country and himself because there will be life after being Presidential spokesman. The country needs to set a standard which no one must breach whoever such is. It’s for Nigeria’s overall good. And lest I forget, as patriotic and godly citizens, we must always pray for our country and leaders. I wish President Buhari soonest recovery and more grace in the task of rebuilding our fatherland. God bless Nigeria.
Kolawole is an award-winning Nigerian journalist and author based in Lagos. You can reach him via [email protected]. SMS Only: 08033983499. Twitter: @ofemigan