LONDON seems to be a place of choice for prominent Nigerians to die.
In the past three years, death of five foremost Nigerians took place in London hospitals where they were receiving treatment before their passing.
Last week Tuesday, renowned Kano businessman and philanthropist, Sheikh Isyaku Rabiu, died in a London hospital after a protracted illness.
Rabiu, a leader of Islam’s Tijjaniyya movement in Nigeria and patriarch of the Isyaku Rabiu Family, died at the age of 93.
Barely six months earlier, former Vice-President of Nigeria, Alex Ekwueme, also died in a London clinic.
He was flown abroad for urgent medical attention after spending days at the Memphys Hospital in Enugu. But he eventually gave up the ghost on Sunday, November 19.
Ekweme’s death was followed by the passing of another prominent Nigeria, Ambassador Oluyemi Adeniji, former Minister of Foreign Affairs during Obasanjo administration. He died at the age of 83 in London after a brief illness.
Three weeks after his 78th birthday, former Biafran leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, also succumbed to the cold hands of death at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, London.
In 2015, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade died at the age 85 in a London Clinic, located at 20 Devonshire Place. He was flown to the UK when he became critically sick, and died four days later.
The only exception was the former emir of Kano, Al-Haji Ado Bayero, who died in 2014 shortly after he returned home from London where he had been receiving treatment.
Most Nigerian politicians including the affluent lack faith in Nigeria’s health systems, the reason many of them seek medical treatment abroad where they eventually pass away at ripe age.
According to Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, Nigeria loses billions of naira yearly due to medical tourism abroad, but he was referring to the middle-class Nigerians who seek medical care in India, not members of the upper crust who go for premium medical treatment in Europe.
Though data for medical spending in the United Kingdom by the Nigerians elite is unavailable, it is a fact that that the spending is huge. And Nigerian healthcare system could use the bounties going to the London hospitals on a yearly basis.