Going overseas for medical treatment by government officials have almost become a culture among our so called leaders. It’s obviously a status symbol among our past and present leaders. I remembered when the former military leader, General Ibrahim B. Babangida went to Paris for a medical treatment. Even the wife of former President Obasanjo died in a foreign hospital while the husband was still in office. Top ranking government officials frequent overseas for medical attention. This is similar to what is happening in our educational sector, whereby leaders play politics and pay less attention to the problems of striking lecturers and decaying educational infrastructures because their children are studying abroad.
Apologies to Mr President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, you are guilty of this offence (overseas medical treatment). Recently Thisday newspapers of Tuesday 14th April 2009, online version reported that you have approved foreign treatment for ex-governor Turaki of Jigawa State and a serving senator to be flown to Germany. Senator Turaki was involved in a road accident. This accident might have been a function of bad road, failure of either the Federal Road Safety Corps or failure of the relevant government ministry that is in charge of checking the state of vehicles that ply the Nigerian roads. If the answers are in the affirmative, then it’s also a part of negligence on the part of government ministries.
By approving to send Senator Saminu Turaki to Germany for medical treatment, Mr. President has exhibited a bias mind. This is favoritism of the highest order. How many ordinary Nigerians have you approved their overseas treatment due to road accidents which was not their making? Or don’t you know that most road accidents in Nigeria are indirectly caused by negligence on the part government (bad roads etc). Every Nigerian should be equal.
Mr. President recently expressed sadness that Nigeria was not invited to the G20 summit in London. These and many more are most of the reasons why the world leaders do not take us serious. If we cannot treat ourselves in Nigeria then what is the point in answering the giant of Africa. This is also a clear indication that the ministry of health has died. All the yearly budgets allocated to the health ministry are of no use if there are no hospitals in Nigeria to treat our president and government officials. If our president and other top government officials rely on foreign medical treatment then what is the hope of an ordinary Nigerian? This is obviously the reason why the government is never serious with the health of ordinary Nigerians. What happens to the Nigerian masses in terms of what they eat and drink are of very little importance to the leaders.
By going abroad for medical treatments, you are directly and indirectly telling the world that there are no hospitals in Nigeria. This has reached an embarrassing stage. Moreover, chances are higher that when you go abroad for medical treatments you might be attended by Nigerian doctors or nurses. There are too many of them abroad driven by the Nigerian leadership problems.
This culture of going abroad for medical treatment by government officials have to stop. It’s a drain on the purse of the nation. Mischievous government officials will use it as avenue to siphon or launder money overseas. Going abroad for treatment will divert government’s attention from equipping the Nigerian hospitals. It has a multiplier effects on the health system in Nigeria. The best thing will be to put a ban on this habit. I suggest a bill to be sent to the National Assembly banning overseas treatment for government officials. I also advise that a bill should be sent to the National Assembly to ban the children of government officials from studying abroad until when their parents or guardians finish their tenure of office. This will make our government to be serious with issues concerning the health and education of the nation.
Imagine what the nation will be loosing if local, state and federal government officials keep going to abroad for all their medical treatments. If the federal government cannot stop this habit by government officials, then the alternative will be to fly every Nigerian who so wishes for overseas treatment. What is good for the goose is also good for the gander. After all they use the state money for these treatments therefore I see no reason why every person should not enjoy this privilege. May God bless Nigeria.
Chinedu Vincent Akuta
An activist and leader of “Support Option A4 Group” Leicester-UK