Pulse Opinion Alex Ekwueme getting medical care abroad is shame on us

Former VP Alex Ekwueme will be flown abroad for medical care. Bow your head in shame if you're Nigerian.

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Alex Ekuweme is Nigeria's former VP play

Alex Ekuweme is Nigeria's former VP

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On October 29, Chief Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme, slipped into coma following a chest infection and was rushed to the Memfis hospital in Enugu for neurosurgery.

“Ekwueme had a quiet celebration of his 85th birthday on Oct. 21 in the company of his family members and he remained in high spirits up till his recent health challenges”, said Prof Laz Ekwueme.

“His doctors confirmed that he is stable, but he will remain under close medical attention in the meantime.

“The family requests the sustained support and prayers of Nigerians as he continues to make a full recovery,” Ekwueme added.

play Ekwueme and former President Olusegun Obasanjo (Punch)

 

Alex Ekwueme was Nigeria’s first elected Vice President from 1979 to 1983 under Alhaji Shehu Shagari. He’s also played a prominent role in the nation’s political evolution and was a founding member of what we refer today as the PDP.

Articulate, suave and perspicacious, 85-year-old Ekwueme is a statesman extraordinaire. Someone you could refer to as the role model godfather.

It is perhaps because of his larger than life persona that President Muhammadu Buhari immediately ordered that Ekwueme be flown abroad for medical care.

"President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the immediate medical treatment of former Vice-President, Dr Alex Ekwueme, outside the country”, read a November 3 statement from Aso Rock.

Mohammadu Buhari (R) defeated Nigeria's former president Goodluck Jonathan in March 28 elections -- the first time in Nigeria's history that an opposition candidate had beaten a sitting president play President Buhari and his predecessor Jonathan (AFP/File)

 

"The approval followed a brief the president received Friday on the medical condition of the former Vice-President.

"The approval covers the immediate charter of an Air Ambulance for the emergency movement and the cost of treatment.

"President Buhari prays that God will grant the elder statesman speedy recovery."

This is worthy of some praise because Ekwueme is that exemplary and deserves the care of the state. He was never indicted for corruption as Vice President and has lived an austere life. However, this could also be viewed as what it is—an own goal from the presidency.

An indictment of some sort on everyone who has ever led this country at all tiers of government since 1960.

The president’s directive means that in 2017, there’s no health facility in this country equipped enough to look after Ekwueme in his prime. It’s a national shame and embarrassment for the Buhari led federal government which has been investing scarce forex on medical tourism since 2015.

Alex and Mrs Ekwueme play Alex Ekwueme and family in church (Gallery)

 

The president himself has been flying abroad at the slightest hint of a health relapse. Meanwhile, we’ve had billions of naira allocated to the health sector since the return to democratic rule in 1999. Where has all the money gone?

Recently, First Lady Aisha Buhari lamented that the Aso Rock clinic which is supposed to take care of the First Family, has no syringe or X-ray equipment within its bowels.

ALSO READ: Former VP in stable condition, says aide

Every year, doctors and other medical professionals announce one imminent strike action or the other no thanks to poor remuneration, infrastructure decay at the hospitals and inability of government to honour agreements reached with medical professionals.

play Chief Alex Ekwueme is far left (The Nation)

 

Politicians and public office holders have stolen monies that have been allotted to fixing our decrepit healthcare sector. The world must be having a good laugh at our expense.

Flying Ekwueme abroad is therefore a metaphor. He belongs in that privileged class of persons who can be flown abroad. What of the millions who can’t? What happens to the rest of us without international passports to our names?

The decay of the Nigerian healthcare sector is an emergency that hasn’t been treated as one.

If Alex Ekwueme’s ailment has taught us anything, it is that we are one huge joke amongst the community of nations.

One shameless joke, I beg your pardon.

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