A Nigerian-American professor and media scholar Farooq Kperogi has advised the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a 2023 presidential aspirant Bola Tinubu to give up his presidential ambition and take time to attend to his health as the presidency is not a hospice.
This is coming amid speculations that the politician may be suffering from chronic urinary incontinence after a video emerged from his visit to some top traditional rulers in Ogun State over the weekend showed a wet patch around his lower region.
“There is now no doubt that Tinubu is way sicker than we ever thought… and than Buhari has ever been. In a serious country, this should put paid to his presidential ambitions.
“I sincerely feel sorry for the man, but I’m even more sorry for a country that considers someone like that as an option to be President,”.
However, Director of Media and Publicity of the pro-Tinubu coalition Biodun Ajiboye has described the video as ‘evil-minded machinations’ and a ‘distraction,’ insisting that the APC chieftain was fit to run for president in the forthcoming general elections.
Ajiboye’s statement read in part: “The success Asiwaju Tinubu recorded at these high-level visitations to top traditional rulers had again led enemies of progress, the brewers of hate, discord and disharmony to script a dirty tale to discredit this awesome outing. This time it is that he wetted his dress!”
Tinubu has come under public scrutiny in recent times over his frequent medical trips as well as misleading and incoherent comments, raising doubts about his declared age of 69 years and concerns about the state of his health.
For example, while encouraging Nigerians last month to get their voters’ cards to enable them exercise their franchise during the elections, he insisted that the cards were only valid for a period.
“Take one family member, two family members, knock on all doors and make sure that the new registration… Because they may not announce to you on time. The PVCs you have has expired,” Tinubu said.
In another viral video from his address at the 12th colloquium organised in his honour in March, he said that the military were understaffed and suggested that 50 million youths should be recruited to boost the force, irrespective of their educational backgrounds.
“Recruit 50 million youths into the army, what they will eat —cassava, corn, yam, will grow here. Don’t talk about illiteracy, anybody who can hold a gun, who can handle a gun, who can cock and shoot is technically competent to repair a tractor in the farm,” Tinubu stated.
Between July 2021 and January 2022, Tinubu has made several medical trips to the US, UK and France, and reportedly underwent at least two surgeries. Although his media team has stated that the trips and subsequent therapies were for ‘knee injury,’ many Nigerians believe the situation is more dire than he admits.
“I hope people who love him will be kind enough to advise him to stop subjecting himself to further public humiliation by giving up his presidential ambition and going to take care of his health,” Kperogi added.
A bill to curb incessant medical trips by public officials
Former Nigerian President Umar Musa Yar’Adua died in May 2010 after spending at least 109 days seeking medical help for a heart condition known as pericarditis from several hospitals across the continents of Europe and Asia.
In 2015, wife of then Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan disclosed she was flown out of the country after she came under satanic attack. Patience Jonathan did not give further details on the nature of her ailment which kept her in Germany for months.
Nigeria’s current president Muhammadu Buhari has consistently sought medical treatment in the UK for ‘a persistent ear infection’ and other undisclosed ailment since he was elected into office in 2015.
His media aide Garba Shehu has argued that President Buhari is not a medical tourist but has over a 30-year period kept ‘retainership’ with medical experts who examine and advise him concerning his health.
Other major patronisers of medical tourism include governors, ministers, lawmakers, chief executives of departments and agencies, as well as their family members, amounting to a huge drain on public funds.
A bill seeking to amend Section 46 of the Healthcare Act of 2014, by providing sanction of N500 million or seven years imprisonment for using public funds for healthcare abroad, has passed for second reading at the House of Representatives.
Section 46 of the principal act states that “no public officer of the Government of the Federation or any part thereof shall be sponsored for medical check-up, investigation or treatment abroad at public expense except in exceptional cases”. The exception will be based on the recommendation and referral by the medical board which shall be duly approved by the minister or commissioner of health of the state as the case may be.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) lawmaker representing Esan North East Local Government Area of Edo State Sergius Ogun, who sponsored the bill, introduced sub-section 2, which prescribes that “any public officer of the government of the federation or any part thereof who violates the provision of sub-section (1) above shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine of N500,000,000 (five hundred million naira) or to an imprisonment term of seven years, or both.”
Also defending the bill, Deputy Minority Leader Toby Okechukwu noted that the spate of medical tourism ‘offends the public purse’ and Nigeria’s effort to be self-sufficient in healthcare. The lower House of Assembly voted unanimously for the second reading of the bill, which was thereafter referred to the Committee on Health Services.
In addition, what Nigerians want in addition to an optimised healthcare system in the country is a thorough health assessment of all political aspirants prior to the 2023 general elections.