Nigerians have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to disclose how much he spent abroad for his medical treatment so everybody can see if indeed he truly sticks to his transparency promise to Nigerians at the inception of his administration.
It would be recalled that President Buhari came back to the country on 10th March, 2017 after almost 50 days medical leave abroad.
However, having spent almost a week after his return without disclosing his medical bills abroad, some Human Right experts have cited the Freedom of Information Act as a basis, demanding the President to tell Nigerians how much it cost him to get the treatment he got in London.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP; Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), and the Campaign for Democracy, among others, have mounted pressure on the President to disclose his medical bill in the UK because his administration rode to power on the pedestal of transparency, anti-corruption promise and change.
This is sequel to speculations that Buhari might have allegedly spent between £200 and £250 per hour for medical services in the UK.
However, Executive Director, SERAP, Mr. Adetokunbo Mumuni has said that Nigerians have the right to know how much tax-payer’s money their president spent abroad on medical treatment.
“Pursuant to the FOI Act, which was signed into law in 2011, every Nigerian has a right to know from any public office holder any information they think they must have. So, the Presidency should provide categorical answer to the question as Buhari’s medical bill abroad. This is a democracy and in democracy, there can be no opaqueness, everything must be clear and open.”
Lending credence to SERAP’s stand, Executive Chairman, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Mr. Debo Adeniran said, “If the money with which the President treated himself abroad did not come from his purse, then he is under obligation to disclose to Nigerians how much he spent from our money on his health care.”
He added that, “As the results of the tests he had are out and the treatment has been done, there is no reason why the President should not tell us what was wrong with him and how much was spent on him. I believe that the President will not want to dent his image with this. When his aides said he was hale and hearty, he came back to say that he was indeed very ill. And he has said many things different from what his lieutenants want us to believe.”
“We want to know how much he has spent except if the money came directly from his pocket. If it was from the purse of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, then he is under obligation to disclose the cost of his treatment to Nigerians.”
Also, President, Campaign for Democracy, Bako Usman, said, “Whenever you are presiding over a set of people, irrespective of how large or little they are, there is nothing as good as having a very prudent housekeeping. That will add value to your credibility and transparency as regards the leadership role you are playing over such people. With the change mantra, we expect things to be done differently and more transparently. We expect more openness in governance.
“So the President should make available the cost of his medical treatment abroad. Someone advocating for a corrupt free society is supposed to be open. This government’s ‘Change Begins With Me’ campaign will be appreciated by the citizens if the President is open and transparent.
“It started as a vacation for 10 days and then extended to two weeks, three weeks and eventually to about 50 days. Nigerians have a right to know much the president spent and he should give Nigerians such information and let there be transparency and openness as regards whatever the administration is doing.”
In his own comment, Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), said “while the President cannot be compelled to disclose the nature of his illness, if public funds are spent (on his health care), Nigerians are entitled to know how much was spent.”
He also said that, “Nigerians should know how much has been spent on the medical expenses incurred by the President in the United Kingdom since according to him; he has had the best of medical treatment.”