Buhari Not First Head of State Going Abroad for Treatment – Lai Mohammed

  • Says President Has Right to Choose His Physician

THE Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has defended President Muhammadu Buhari’s medical tourism in London by saying he is not the first Nigerian Head of State to have sought for medical treatment abroad.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) also quoted Alhaji Mohammed saying that the President’s medical tourism abroad is not indicative of the poor state of the nation’s medical sector.

Mohammed made the defence in Washington DC during his engagements with international media organisations including the BBC Radio and Television, Bloomberg and Politico.

NAN reports that the minister is in the U.S. to meet with international media organisations and think tanks on the achievements of President Buhari’s administration and efforts made so far in tackling insurgency, banditry and all forms of criminality.

“As Minister of Information and Culture today, if I have had a history of using a particular doctor in my life and I have confidence in him, I don’t think the fact that I am now a minister will change that. Irrespective of the nationality of that doctor, it is my personal decision to choose the doctor to use.

“Like I explained to them, he is not the only Head of State that have gone abroad for treatment. If Mr President has a personal physician for over 30 years, who understands his case and has been managing him, why will it be an issue of contention to seek medical attention from him?

“It will not be right to say that because of what people are going to say, he has to stay in Nigeria to seek treatment,” he said.

The minister berated those who were criticising the president’s action of seeking medical attention abroad stressing that it was an inconsequential attempt to de-market him. He said in spite of challenges, the nation’s health sector is not in comatose to warrant a vote of no confidence on the sector.

Mohammed disclosed that in spite of criticism of the sector, the World Health Organisation had rated Nigeria fourth in terms of national response to COVID-19; although the WHO has since clarified it did no such rating. He said the country attained the feat, notwithstanding the two pronged challenges of vaccines nationalism and hesitancy.

The minister explained that vaccine nationalism was the situation where countries like Nigeria were denied access to procure vaccines to administer to its teeming population.

“In countries where they have less population, they have received tens of millions of doses whereas in Nigeria, we have received just about eight million. This is a far cry from the 70 per cent population that we need to vaccinate before we can achieve herd immunity,” the minister said, adding that vaccine hesitancy, fuelled by fake news and disinformation, was becoming very high in the country.

He said people were misinformed that when they take the vaccine, it had magnetic effect while there was also the fake news that the vaccine was meant to depopulate certain part of the country.

The minister said while the steering committee on COVID-19 continued to strengthen its campaign, the states should strengthen their surveillance system. He enjoined traditional and religious leaders as well as the media to continue with advocacy on the efficacy and safety of the vaccine.


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