Femi Adesina, Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari, and Bolaji Abdullahi, spokesman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), say there was never a time during the 2015 presidential campaign when Buhari promised not to embark on medical tourism.
Both men were guests at Thursday’s edition of Focus Nigeria on AIT, where they spoke on the achievements of the Buhari administration so far.
Abdullahi, who worked as a Deputy Director in the Buhari’s presidential campaign team, said it was “one gentleman” who came up with a list containing 100 promises that Buhari was supposed to keep if he emerged President.
“I was the Deputy Director of the policy directorate of the campaign, I was there from the beginning to the end,” Abdullahi said.
“So many people came to join the group, some from even outside the country. Then one day, we were in a meeting, then one gentleman who heads one of the international NGOs in the country brought this list of 100 items that he was proposing that we should push out as the promise of Mr President to Nigerians.
“We circulated and asked everyone to study it and come back the following day so that we look at which ones we can own and which ones we need to reject.
“I recall that Number 1 on that list was to make the President say that ‘when I become President, I will not travel abroad for medical treatment’.
“And I remember we rejected that immediately, because we said we din’t know what this man was dealing with, we didn’t know who his doctors had been, how could we say this for him?
“But do you know what happened? One of us in the group just released the document.”
Contributing to the discussion, Adesina said he could confirm the incident because he had raised the issue with Buhari when he first read it.
“I can confirm that even the President himself, who was a candidate then, was not aware,” Adesina said.
“The very week I resumed this assignment, I raised some things with the President. I said, this and this and this were promised, and the President said ‘when did I promise these things’?
“I said there is a document titled ‘100 things Buhari will do in 100 days’. He never knew about that document. He had to ask people to fetch that document for him, and it was the first time he was seeing it.
“So there were promises that people made during the campaign on his behalf.”
Adesina agreed that a serious government should be able to provide adequate healthcare for its citizenry, but added that at present, the Nigerian government cannot afford it.
He blamed previous governments for not doing anything with the nation’s resources when crude oil sold for more than $100 per barrel.
“There was a time we could have afforded it, but the money was not properly spent,” he said.
“That’s why the President keeps lamenting that for a certain number of years consistently, oil prices stood at $100 per barrel, going as high as $120 per barrel at a time, and we were producing about 2.1 million barrels daily.
“Then when he [Buhari] came, oil prices plunged to $37 per barrel, so he called the Central Bank Governor and said, ‘do we have savings?’ and the Governor said ‘no savings’.
“The question is ‘What did they do with that money? Why didn’t they fix our hospitals in all those years that we had boom?’
“And you know that since 2015, things have been down and they are just looking up now. As things look up, if they ever ever get back to where we were, if we ever get back to $100 per barrel for oil under the Buhari administration, it’s doubtful, but if we ever get there, you can be sure that a lot will get done, because this is a prudent administration and the money of Nigerians will be used to serve Nigerians.”