President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to London was first
On Sunday, April 8, the president’s trip to London became official.
We have been told by the presidency that Buhari will be in London for the Commonwealth Heads Of Government (CHOGM) meeting.
The problem is that the CHOGM does not hold until Wednesday, April 18. Which means that Buhari has a week on his hands before the CHOGM.
Not to worry, the presidency says. Buhari will hold series of meetings before the CHOGM, seeing as he has plenty of time on his hands.
From April 9 to 17, Buhari will hold meetings with the CEO of Shell oil producing company Mr Ben van Beurden, British Prime Minister Theresa May, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, among others, the presidency says.
“Further meetings have also been scheduled for the president to see some prominent British and Nigerians residing in Britain”, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said in a statement.
Like everything Buhari, this latest trip to London is raising eyebrows in certain quarters and rightly so. There’s some history when it comes to the president’s London trips.
On February 5, 2016, Buhari embarked on a six-day vacation to London.
On June 6, 2016, Buhari flew to London for 10 days to treat an infected ear.
On June 19, 2017, Buhari embarked on yet another medical trip to London.
On May 7, 2017, Buhari took to the skies again for London. He wouldn’t return until August 19, 2017.
It is no longer a secret that Buhari has been battling an undisclosed ailment for a while now and that his doctors reside in London.
It only makes sense to schedule appointments with your doctors when you are in their city for an official assignment.
You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that Buhari will see his doctors in London if only for a routine medical checkup, in the days leading to the CHOGM.
So, why wasn’t that piece of information included in the president’s London itinerary? Why are we told about meetings with this and that without any mention of the president’s meeting with his doctors?
Why has the issue of the president’s health remained a closely guarded secret since he was voted in? Why is Buhari in London a week before every other dignitary who is attending the CHOGM?
Buhari has just announced that he will seek re-election in 2019. Commonsense says before you embark on a grueling electioneering campaign, keeping a date with your doctor is about the most rational thing you can do.
The campaigns for elections will hit top gear in the next couple of weeks. Buhari needs to be fit to hit the stomp grounds because campaigns are physically demanding and rigorous affairs. You hardly catch consecutive nights of sleep as a politician during campaign season.
And what better time to check in with your doctors (ahead of an election campaign that will sap you of all energy), than when you are next door to them?
The presidency didn’t need to exclude Buhari’s date with his doctors from his London itinerary because there’s nothing wrong with falling ill and seeing your doctors.
The longer the presidency plays games with the president’s health, the more the conspiracy theories simmer and boil over.
This latest Buhari trip sure has the familiar “medical vacation” written all over it. Someone just needed to spell that out in black and white in the spirit of transparency and accountability. And trust me, no one would have died.