Labour and Employment Minister Chris Ngige said on Friday that President Muhammadu Buhari’s has the right to seek medical treatment in London.
He said Buhari’s current medical trip to the United Kingdom (UK) is to enable him seek a second opinion on his health as he has been doing in the last 40 years.
But the minister, who is a medical doctor himself, did not say what ails the president.
Overseas treatment, according to him, is part of the perks of office of a sitting President, former presidents and some judges in the country.
Ngige, who spoke exclusively to our correspondent, said Buhari’s shuttle to London has nothing to do with the sorry state of Nigerian hospitals.
He said: “Buhari has the right to travel for medical abroad for three reasons. Number one, you don’t constraint people on their choice of who will treat them for any ailment or who will be their doctor. That is number one. You have a choice there.
“Buhari is the head of the government of Nigeria and he has a physician attached to him as per the office. And if he runs test or does any diagnosis with his physician, he has a right to what we call ‘Second Opinion’.
“I, Chris Ngige, as small as I am and a medical doctor, I have been doing a Second Opinion on my health in the last 30 years.
“The third reason is that Buhari, as a head of hovernment, there are certain perquisites/ perks of office and conditions of service attached to offices and appointments in Nigeria.
“Some government officials and members of the Judiciary have in their appointment free medical treatment at home and abroad there. And the only thing you need to qualify for this is to do what is called Medical Board Evaluation. It is in our government books.
“So, Buhari has been doing Medical Evaluation for himself at home and abroad in the last 40 years, even as an army officer and a former head of state. In fact, all former heads of state, by our books, are entitled to free medical treatment abroad.
“So, the thing Buhari is doing is right.”
Asked why Buhari cannot fix Nigerian hospitals for a second opinion on his health at home, Ngige said: “It is because he has been going there in the past 40 years. He has his doctor there. And don’t forget that he has the right of choice.
“It is not because of the state of our hospitals that he went to London. He has been going there for the past 40 years. It is not that.
“Let me tell you. I use National Hospital for my First Line treatment. If you go there, you will see my chart there.
“If you also go to the State House Clinic, you will also see my chart for my eyes. I have some eye problem related to cataract for my age but I take second opinion from abroad. It is within my right,
“It is not a luxury for the President at all. If it is not a luxury for former Presidents, how can it be a luxury for a sitting President. He qualifies on both sides. He is a former head of state and a sitting head of government. So, in all categories, he qualifies.
“Much more importantly, he has the right of crosschecking and that is what we call medical check. He has the right to crosscheck with his doctors or a doctor that has his medical history. It is allowed.
“Or are you in the group which says he should not go abroad for medical check because he is now the President?
“When he was a private man, he was taking the bills. What should stop him from taking it now?”
Buhari, on his return home from a 49-day medical vacation in the UK in March 2017, said then that he had never been so sick in his life.
He did not specify the nature of his ailment but said he went through series of tests and even had a blood transfusion.
He said: “I have rested as much as humanly possible, I have received I think the best of treatment I could receive. I couldn’t recall being so sick since I was a young man, including the military with its ups and downs. I found out that technology is going so fast.
“?Blood transfusion, going to the laboratories, and so on and so forth, but I am very pleased that we, when I say we, I mean the government and the people all over are trying to keep with technology.
“I couldn’t recall when last I had blood transfusion, I couldn’t recall honestly, I can say in my 70 years, I can’t remember this drug that Nigerians take so much, very common.? I think one of our terrible things is self-drug administration.
“We have to trust our doctors more and trust ourselves more, the places I visited they only take drugs when it is absolutely necessary, they don’t just swallow everything.”
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